by Larry Austin
Seventy students at Connor Middle School will present another musical based on a popular children's book this week.
"The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Jr." opened Thursday night and continues Friday and Saturday, directed by Andrew Boron and Sarah Russo from the school's music department. In the spring, VCMS brought "Willy Wonka" to life with a successful show.
Eighth-grader Sam Sommer said his title character in "Flat Stanley" is an "average 10-year-old, who wishes to do amazing things." Stanley aims to "travel the world, do something no one has ever seen before."
"In a way it comes true, but with a twist," Sommer said of the wish.
A shooting star helps make Stanley's wish come to fruition. As he sleeps, Stanley is hit with a bulletin board and wakes up flattened, in fact thin enough to fit in an oversized envelope.
Eighth-grader Marina Wittmann plays Mrs. Cartero, who works for the United States Postal Service "at your service." Director Andrew Boron said Mrs. Cartero is the "quirky neighborhood postal lady that sends Stanley on his adventures." Stanley doesn't take a jet or drive a car. He lets the USPS do the work for him.
"She's the one that mails Stanley everywhere," Wittmann said of her character. Stanley can travel from Hollywood, Hawaii and Paris, to name a few destinations where he enjoys his adventures, such as making a movie and saving a couple of paintings in the Louvre, among other things.
"She is a bit kooky," Wittmann said of her character, comparing Mrs. Cartero to Alice from "The Brady Bunch." In fact, the show is full of characters who are a little bit off and is based on the children's books by Jeff Brown that many middle school classmates have read.
"I read the books," Sommer said. "The funny thing is, that was actually my favorite childhood book when I was little."
"It just seemed so fun and amazing and imaginative."
Though they share a spirit of imagination, the books and the musical are not identical.
"The book is still in there, but more details have been added," Sommer said, calling the musical "like a cartoon comedy."
"It's very animated," Wittmann said. Likewise, the music encompasses a broad range of genres, such as calypso, country and Broadway. "I really like the songs. The songs are great. The music is really, like, bright and happy, and the songs get stuck in your head easily."
Parents will enjoy the message "to encourage children to explore their world," Russo said. "But at the end, Stanley comes back home and he says he misses his family. It's no fun to be all by himself without his family. So it also goes into how home is not a bad place to be, either," Russo said.
"I can't wait for everyone to see it actually. It's pretty fun," Sommer said.
"The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Jr."
•Date: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Oct. 11, 12 and 13.
•Show times: 7 p.m.
•Where: Grand Island High School auditorium, 1100 Ransom Road.
•Tickets: $5 or $3 for children under 10.