It is very hard to find a good family show that has something for everyone, young and old. A show that is intelligent enough for adults, yet completely engaging for children. After our amazing success with Because of Winn Dixie, I have been trying hard to find such plays and bring families back to the Delaware Theatre Company.
A producer friend of mine told me of a play in London that he was considering bringing to the U.S. and thought it might be just what we were looking for – an irresistible story of looking for love and finding it in unexpected places, (sound familiar?) full of adventure and romance, heartbreak and humor, and set in the conceit of a circus.
HETTY FEATHER originated in Great Britain as a piece of “devised theatre” where producer of family shows, Kenny Wax, reached out to the incredibly clever director, Sally Cookson, about adapting the novel Sally met with writer, Emma Reeves, composer Benji Bower, designer Katie Sykes and a few very talented actors and they improvised and collaborated for several weeks to come up with this wonderful piece of theatre.
When I reached out to Kenny about DTC doing this production, he asked if I wanted the British cast and director to come over and mount it on our stage. But I was so intrigued by the production that I wanted to re-create Sally’s work and assemble a wonderful American cast and produce the show ourselves with me directing, and present the first American production of the play. Having never done aerial work before, I sought out an aerial choreographer, Kendall Rileigh, and reached out to the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts to learn more. Kendall told me to think of aerial work like I think of a musical. If we think we can tell the story better with a song, then we sing. The same holds for “going in the air.” We decided it best to cast two actors that were very experienced aerial artists, and then four great, athletic actors who would train for several weeks to gain the skills.
With Hetty’s fiery red hair, lively imagination, defiance of authority and complete intolerance of injustice, we know she is destined to take us on a remarkable journey. Thanks to Scott Landis, Bob Bartner, and Kenny Wax for trusting us with this magical show. Hetty Feather continues the great tradition of taking a very successful children’s book, and converting it into a terrific family musical. A tradition we hope to continue at DTC. Our final show of the season continues through Sunday, May 14th. Enjoy.
Photography by Matt Urban, Mobius New Media.