This interview got me thinking back to how I came to write the little musical based on the Aesop fable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" also based on an ancient Greek story with ancient Greek characters and setting. In those days, I was frustrated trying to find a suitable vehicle for our youngest actors. We wanted a play with music that told a good story with meaningful parts for all of our little actors. Because we had very young actors, mostly ages 5-7, we needed very simple lines and short catchy songs and movement that made sense to little people. We wanted them to each feel that they could contribute to telling the story through their lines and their singing and dancing. We did not want a play that relied on explaining things to the audience through a narrator, choral readers, or adult "helpers." And we especially did not want an over-produced accompaniment track that over-powered the little voices.
"The Boy Who Cried Wolf" was a good choice because it told a story with the possibility of many characters (including non-human fantasy characters), it had very simple costume and set requirements, and the show could promote a wholesome message. The biggest problem was how to infuse comedy into this story where the protagonist learns a life lesson through tragedy. We found that the children themselves brought delightful comedy to the show through their own "cute" factor. The interaction between the Boy and the darling little lambs was fun to watch. But the little lambs wagging their tails during their dance, "Little Lambs Pastorale" had the audience rolling in the aisles with giggles. I had parents and guests comment that their favorite part of the show was seeing those adorable little lambs dance. And then when the youngest boy comes out as the wolf and chases the little lambs around and off the stage... well, let's just say that the poor Contrary Boy had a difficult job to act anguished that he had just sent them to their demise.
Simple lines. Catchy songs. Good message. These are all very important ingredients to a Children's Theater success. But you should never underestimate the power of the "cute" factor.