“The Emperor’s New Clothes” gets a fashionable makeover in an updated version of the classic children’s story being staged by Johnny Appleseed Children’s Theatre at Apple Hill Playhouse.
“Cool Suit,” which will open Tuesday, presents the same story as the Hans Christian Andersen tale about the pompous monarch who was promised a new suit of clothes that was better than any other. Unfortunately, he was dealing with an unreliable tailor, and the apparel turns out to be much less than the emperor expects.
In this musical version by Lauren Mayer, a score featuring rap music and tunes that resemble familiar pop songs will keep young audiences entertained, director Meghan O’Halloran says. But even those who are older than the elementary school set should have a good time.
“This show is written for a young audience, with small elements that won’t leave the adult audience wishing they had the sitter bring their kids,” the director says. “The rap song is played up a bit in the beginning of the show to get the energy of the audience — and cast — up to speed for the rest of the performance. The rap is very ‘Fresh Prince-esque,’ which should appeal to the 20-somethings in the house.”
O’Halloran says youngsters performing in the show are enjoying the experience, learning a variety of musical numbers and accompanying dance moves for every song, even if they aren’t in some of the scenes.
Kevin Adamik, a vocal performance major at Slippery Rock University who portrays the emperor, says the production gives him an opportunity to hone his acting skills. His singing experience includes a recent performance with his university’s tour choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
“Every chance to get on stage is a great opportunity and a great experience for me,” he says.
Maria Bruno, a senior costume-design major at Point Park University, is playing her first bad-guy role as the tailor in “Cool Suit.”
“I have never played a villain before, so it is quite a fun challenge for me,” she says.
The cast also includes Stephen Young, narrator; Olivia Lantz, mother; Megan Swift, page, and an ensemble of six children.
Candy Williams is a freelance writer.