2021/22 Season Family Guide

Parenting is different for everyone, and we want to keep that ball in your court. We always welcome parents to do their own research, but we've also taken the liberty to create a handy guide for each one of our shows in the 2021/22 Mainstage Season. Our aim is to provide you with more information and guidance to help you make informed choices you're comfortable with for your whole family, and prepare you for what to expect when you come through our doors.

Because education is central to our mission, we have also provided some questions that can be discussed after the performance. We encourage you to check back periodically as opening day approaches for updates on possible staging choices that could change the content of these guides. We hope this guide will enrich the learning experience of all our patrons both young and seasoned.

—Melissa Rivera
Producing Director of Education & Mainstage

Into the Woods

November 19 - December 23, 2021

At a Glance:
Into the Woods is a beautifully clever yet somber take on classic Brothers Grimm fairy tales by genius composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. We see familiar characters such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack, and the Wicked Witch; however, their stories are much more humanized and feel less like a fairy tale. They all venture into the woods to seek their "wish" but are confronted with unexpected visitors and forced to tackle moral dilemmas. Their separate storylines are masterfully woven together and heightened by Sondheim's complicated and witty music. Though there is no strong language, the lyrics can be tricky to follow. This show teaches a number of nuanced life lessons such as the value of teamwork, yet others are more emotionally complex. Children are separated from parents, some audience-favorite characters die, and there is no promise of a happy ending for anyone, yet the ultimate message of the show is one of hope and optimism.

NOTE: Act I is narratively self-contained. If there is concern about content and length, leaving during intermission is a suitable option.

Discussion Questions:
1. Do any of the characters actually live happily ever after?
2. Are any of the characters role models? Can you relate to their dilemmas and problems? What do they learn over the course of the plot? What choices and mistakes do they make, and how does that affect their story?
3. How are parents depicted? Are the mothers and fathers in the story good parents? What does it take to be a good parent?

Head Over Heels

February 25 - April 3, 2022

At a Glance:
This funfilled jukebox musical featuring the songs of The Go-Go’s based on Philip Sidney’s The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia is the story of what happens when the royal court of Arcadia is threatened by the mystical non-binary Oracle of Delphi with the loss of its divine “Beat.” Their hilarious journey to avoid the fulfillment of the prophecies ultimately leads them to self-discovery and acceptance, teaching us all that love is love and that we should not be afraid to be our authentic selves. "We meet our destiny on whatever road we take to flee." Themes of female empowerment, gender, sexual identity, love, and romance are intricately woven throughout this dance heavy story. Though the script is immensely witty and laden with sexual innuendos, some of these wordplays could be difficult to decipher for younger audiences due to the use of Elizabethan prose in all spoken dialogue. However, some audience members who do catch the suggestive language may find these double entendres too blatant or shocking while others may find the colorful language clever and humorous. Although there is no real nudity, it is suggested when a character urinates behind a bush and later when two other characters engage in a faux sex scene.

Discussion Questions:
1. Is withholding information the same as lying? Why do you think King Basilius kept the oracle's prophecies to himself? Did this ultimately protect the family members?
2. In your opinion, why were King Basilius and Gynecia both attracted to Cleophila (Musidorus in disguise)? Did they no longer love each other? Could their "affair" have been avoided?
3. If Pamela is attracted to women, why do you think she was upset when Mopsa kissed her?
4. What does this musical teach us about the meaning of love? Is it possible to avoid your destiny? Is it ever helpful to hide who you truly are?

Little Shop of Horrors

May 27 - July 3, 2022

At a Glance:
The creative minds of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin) bring us this charmingly tongue-in-cheek comedy with a campy noir twist. This dark cult-classic musical follows a meek floral assistant, Seymour Krelborn, who stumbles across a new breed of plant who he names after his co-worker (and crush) Audrey. Seymour tries to impress Audrey and his degrading boss, Mr. Mushnick, by showing off how well the plant thrives under his care. However, Seymour soon discovers that the plant has an insatiable thirst for blood. This show uses stylized humor and camp throughout the music and storyline, but it is important to note that murder, a sadistic dentist, scenes of domestic violence, mild drug use (the dentist uses laughing gas), and mild off-color language occur in the story. It is also worth pointing out that the ending of this show is different (and darker) than the movie adaptation.

Discussion Questions:
1. Why do you think Audrey is dating someone who is abusive to her and others? Is Seymour right in wanting to get rid of the dentist?
2. What could have happened to Audrey if Seymour had not "saved" her from the dentist? How does her treatment in the show make you feel?
3. What do you think Little Shop of Horrors says about love?
4. What are the dangers of compromising your morals or ethics in order to become famous, rich, successful or happy?

School of Rock

July 16 - 23, 2022

At a Glance:
This Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is based on Jack Black's hit film by the same name. The story follows Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who finds himself in desperate need of some cash to pay rent, and decides to pose as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. There he turns a class of straight–A pupils into a mind-blowing rock band. But he needs to get them to the Battle of the Bands without their parents and the school’s headmistress finding out. Dewey's character can be problematic in that he uses deception as his primary tactic to achieve his goals. He is crude, immature, has complete disregard for authority, and makes a comment about being hungover. But ultimately we find that he has a good heart and sincerely cares about the children and the music. This show is a hilarious channel for delivering a positive message about developing self-esteem and being true to yourself. It's an enjoyable way for families to learn about music and talk about the amount of work and personal satisfaction that results in creating something with a team.

Discussion Questions:
1. Why is music so important to Dewey? What does it allow him to express?
2. What's the most important thing Dewey learns from the kids, and what is the most important thing they learn from him?
3. How do the characters demonstrate self-control, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?