OBU Theatre will present “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” April 30 to May 2 in Shawnee Hall’s Craig-Dorland Theatre on the University’s campus in Shawnee. Showtimes include April 30 and May 1 at 7:30 p.m. and May 1 and 2 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are now on sale online. Adults are $12 and students are $5. Advance purchase is required as seats will be assigned in family/friend groups to maintain physical distancing.
In the play, Edward Tulane, a toy rabbit made of china, becomes unwillingly tossed into a journey he didn’t plan on taking. Yet, through this miraculous journey, Edward learns what it is to love, the sorrow of losing that love, and how to find the courage to love again. Adapted by Dwayne Hartford from Kate DiCamillo’s beautiful novel of the same name, this music-filled play for children and youth is adult-friendly.
The play is under the direction of Dr. Hephzibah Dutt, assistant professor of theatre and director of theatre, with original music by Dr. James Vernon, Burton H. Patterson Professor of Music. The cast is comprised of OBU students including freshman graphic design major Natalie Bright, sophomore theatre major Nathan Goforth, senior theatre major Garrett Wheeler and junior theatre major Erin Wilson. Anna Smolen, junior theatre major, is the understudy.
Dutt is directing the performance to focus on the theme of love and hope.
“Who knew learning to love would take an entire journey and years and years of waiting,” she said. “Edward Tulane gets a lifetime to learn this. But maybe we don’t need our entire lifetime, and can instead learn from Edward’s journey – that loving others and letting others love us is not always easy. Sometimes, it even seems like a bad idea because loving others means it hurts when you lose them.
“And yet, as we shall see, learning to love, and letting others love us, is what gets us through the ups and downs of life. Whatever the last year brought you, and whatever changes are ahead, I hope you can learn from Edward’s journey – take every opportunity to love those around you. And never, never give up hope. You are remembered, wanted and loved.”
Vernon described how he created the music to complement not only the action in the play but also the progression of emotions Edward experiences throughout his journey. This is the eighth OBU Theatre production for which Vernon has composed original music.
“This script has cues for musical events to happen, but Professor Dutt wanted more. So the combination of creating ‘live’ music as well as ‘background’ music made the challenge even more interesting,” he said. “Edward, the ceramic rabbit, is at turns sarcastic, gentle, loving, anxious, angry and depressed. His character is us. I hope the music reflects ‘us’ in our various ways of existing and coping. But at the heart of it all lies a small, simple melody which expresses all the love that Edward could generate. This music is his music.”
Catherine Burgess, Cristian Celis, Cale Sugg and Sydney Hampton of the OBU Division of Music join the actors on stage with the piano, clarinet and a plethora of percussions. Together, the four musicians help the actors bring the story, and Vernon’s compositions, to life.
The ensemble was also coached in choreography, stage-combat and stylized movement by teacher-artist duo Scott Russell, currently a stage combat instructor at the University of Oklahoma, and Jaddy Ciucci.
The band is on stage the entire time and integrated into the action of the show, making this show a sensory delight of dance, music, movement and storytelling that is sure to please audiences of every age.
The production crew includes Danny Halminiak, technical director; Emili Ramos, stage manager and assistant technical director; Rachel Hauser, assistant stage manager; Anna Smolen, assistant stage manager and fly crew head; Annalise V. Caudle, scenic designer, scenic charge artist, lighting designer, and master electrician; Larashleigh Wallace, assistant scenic designer and props master; Emma Greathouse - assistant lighting designer and assistant master electrician; and Nathan Goforth, assistant props master.
Additional production crew members include Maritza Jaimes, costume designer; Zoe Burdess, assistant costume designer and costume coordinator; Erin Wilson, assistant costume coordinator; Jordan Evans, sound designer and sound board operator; Rachel Campbell, wardrobe crew head and wigs and makeup; Emily Russell, wardrobe crew; Augie Mathews, follow spot operator one; Gracie Jackson, follow spot operator two; Bayleigh Platter, front of house manager; Amber Rodriguez, box office; and Kendra Johnson, dramaturg and public relations coordinator.
Senior Kendra Johnson, in her role as the PR coordinator for the production, created a family activity and discussion guide to accompany the performance. Parents may use this guide to prepare their young audience members for theatre etiquette, share a sneak-peak of the story, and begin to discuss some of the deeper themes found in the play.Tickets are now on sale online. For more information, call (405) 585-4350.