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SCR announces children’s series

South Coast Repertory’s first “Theatre for Young Audiences” series -- an attempt to instill the playgoing habit in kids via productions using professional casts and established designers -- will feature a new, musical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows” as well as a 1980s-vintage musical version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” that was the first professional effort by the Tony-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Ragtime”).

Rounding out the three-play series, which debuts next season in the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage, is “Sideways Stories From Wayside School,” a comedy by John Olive that adapts a series of children’s novels by Louis Sachar.

Each show will have a three-week run, with weekends for the general public and weekdays for school kids. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” runs Oct. 31-Nov. 16, “Sideways Stories From Wayside School” plays Feb. 6-22 and “The Wind in the Willows” premieres June 4-20, 2004.

“Willows,” with book and lyrics by Richard Hellesen and music by Michael Silversher, is the first show to result from the commissioning program South Coast has launched to generate new plays for family audiences. Others currently engaged are Pulitzer Prize-winner Donald Margulies, Anne Garcia-Romero, Tazewell Thompson, Quincy Long and Carol Hall.

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The annual budget for the youth series, including production costs and commissions, is about $450,000.


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