“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” it’s true. But that truth comes to the fore in a multi-layered visual feast of The Little Prince on Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m. at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. The classic story of a little prince learning lessons of love, loss and laughter from a pilot, a fox and assorted others in a strange world is adapted from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in this Bristol Riverside Theatre of Pennsylvania production.
In a new take on the storybook that launched 80 million copies in 200 languages, the BRT rendition employs inventive puppets, live actors and magnificent music. The production is done in association with Emmy Award-winning puppet designer Michael Schupbach and Monkey Boys Productions, the puppet builders on the West End production of Avenue Q and the recent Broadway production and tour of Little Shop of Horrors.
The 1943 book, masquerading as a children’s story but full of wisdom for all ages, was based on Saint-Exupéry’s time as a pilot before and during World War II and his relationship with his wife, Consuela, personified by the Rose in the story. The pilot crashes in the Sahara desert and, while stranded and distraught, is interrupted by the Little Prince asking him to draw a sheep. He complies and the two become fast friends.
The pilot learns of the Little Prince’s beginnings on an asteroid, where he loved a rose, but left his home to cure his loneliness and visit other planets. In his travels, the Little Prince learns about the narrow-minded world of grownups and eventually lands on Earth. He continues his adventures and the getting of wisdom: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” The Little Prince decides he must return home to his Rose.
The Little Prince is directed by BRT founding director Susan D. Atkinson, who has 40 years experience in theater, including directing the premiere of Larry Gatlin’s Texas Flyer in 1998. She won the Drama-Logue Award in Los Angeles for her direction of the musical The Fantasticks. Original music is by Rick Cummins. The BRT has received 61 Barrymore nominations and nine Broadway World Awards and has premiered 23 plays and musicals.
You will enjoy The Little Prince, whether you’re in the flush of childhood or a grownup who has trouble telling a hat from a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. In the latter case, it might be time for a reminder. As Saint-Exupéry writes, “All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”
This performance of The Little Prince is sponsored by Bank of America. Jorgensen was named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers’ Poll for 2012, and was recently named a Reader’s Choice Winner by the Mansfield-Storrs Patch.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs."
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Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $13 for children, with some discounts available. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., or order online at www.jorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient, free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.
Disclosure: I was given a family four pack from the vendor as a thank you for promoting this show. The views I share on this show are mine and mine alone.