Kids’ stories come to life at NCC
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media March 15, 2011 5:36PM
IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE
When: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. March 19
Where: North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville.
Cost: $10/adults and $5/children under 12.
Contact: 630-637-SHOW or visit
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
TheatreworksUSA presents “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books” for two public performances March 19 at Pfeiffer Hall.
The title story, by Laura Joffe Numeroff, is a lesson in cause and effect when a boy shares his snack with a hungry, demanding mouse.
Quinn Patrick Shannon stars as the boy in the mouse tale, who gets his cookie stolen by the mouse. He wasn’t familiar with the book before landing the role, but thankfully his target audience doesn’t have that problem.
“It’s refreshing because a lot of kids know these books we’re performing,” he said. “It’s nice to learn what different generations like.”
The other stories include:
“Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman, about a girl named Grace who wants to play the title character in her school’s production of “Peter Pan”;
“Borreguita and the Coyote” by Verna Aardema; a Mexican tale of a lamb (borreguita), who uses her wits to escape a hungry coyote;
“Imogene’s Antlers” by David Small; about a girl delighted to wake up one morning with “cool” antlers;
“Martha Speaks” by Susan Meddaugh; about a family dog who literally becomes outspoken after dining on alphabet soup;
“Master Man” by Aaron Shepard; a Nigerian tall tale about a man who gets his comeuppance after he claims to be the world’s strongest man;
“Math Curse” by Jon Scieszka; a story that pokes gentle fun at the fear of math;
“Owen” by Kevin Henkes; about a boy who can’t seem to part with his blankie when it is time to start kindergarten.
“The main one is about the mouse, but a lot of the stories are based on television — ‘Martha Speaks’ is a television show about a talking dog,” he said. “We do a story called ‘Borreguita and the Coyote’ — that one is nice because it integrates and promotes bilingual speaking. There’s a little Spanish in there, so that is fun. That, I think, is the most well-written one in the show. It’s very clever and funny and musically very smart.”
“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books” is a revised version of “Reading Rainbow,” a previous TheatreworksUSA musical revue. This revised production features the original revue’s direction and choreography of David Armstrong, plus additions by Kevin Del Aguila.
Shannon is doing his second tour with TheatreworksUSA, having performed the title role in “Nate the Great” a couple of years ago. The kids, he said, love the production.
“The style is very over-the-top and comical, almost cartoony in a way,” he said. “There’s always a moral in every story and an element of education attached, as there is with all of TheatreworksUSA productions. It’s entertaining and fun for adults, too. My friends haven’t seen the show yet, but I think they will think it’s hilarious.”
The show lasts about an hour, and there is a lot of music, he said, with “very little dialogue.”
“There’s a lot of singing; sometimes we’ll tell a story in four minutes,” he said. “Like ‘Math Curse.’ We just perform it in a song. ‘Master Man’ is another one. It’s a seven-minute-long song.”
Actually, “Master Man” is his favorite story, he said.
“The story is a seven-minute-long rap song. It’s really fun and well-written and clever,” he said. “There are a lot of technical aspects. I don’t have a big part in it … but I get to be a hip-hop star for seven minutes. It’s kind of awesome.”
They get a big response to that story, he said, so much so that he is surprised at how many kids know that story.
The kids, he said, are the most interested in the technical aspects of the theater. They want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, and try to catch them changing the scenery.
“The real little kids ask questions to the characters — a lot of them don’t know we play different roles,” he said. “We all play eight or nine different roles. Of course they always have a favorite story.”
A native New Yorker, Shannon said he loves touring with the company and seeing America.
“It’s gets really hectic in the big city. Being on the road with a small group of people is a great learning experience. I treat it like a little vacation. I see the country and do theater, which is what I love to do.”
People should expect a quality theater production, he said.
“I think a lot of people think it’s just a kids’ show, but we’re all professional actors and we treat every performance seriously.”