Well, this is a tough one. I have been thinking a lot about my Musicals as I have been rebuilding my website. Each of the shows has been given an updated "look." These are still my "children" and it would be unethical to pick a favorite. Still, I look back on creating each of them with fondness for different reasons.
"Stone Soup," "Momotaro," "The Empty Pot," "The Ants and the Grasshopper," and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" were written for very young (5-7 yr. olds), very small casts (fewer than 15 kids). My options for creating dramatic moments, developing 3-dimensional characters and using sophisticated music were slim to non-existent. Everything had to be simple. Nevertheless, there were charming moments that delighted the audiences with "cute factor."
When I had the chance to create expanded versions of "The Empty Pot" and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" I got to write for older, more experienced actors and singers and dancers. I also got to collaborate with terrific choreographers, scenic artists, stage managers, musicians, and parental supporters. "A Successor to the Throne" and "Never Cry Wolf" blossomed into 60 minute main stage productions that boasted satisfying moments of storytelling, drama, musical sophistication, as well as comedy.
Then there were the shows that didn't start out as shows at all. They started out as a project for a company that provides reading materials to classrooms in Asia that teach English as a foreign language. They chose famous English language stories as a basis for teaching culture and heritage, as well as entertainment through reading. This company wanted songs to go along with their simplified reader's theater scripts. I was given permission to use the SONGS for my own purposes, as well. Naturally, as I was writing the songs, I started visualizing the storylines --- soon those became my own scripts, and then they had to become shows. "The Tale of Chicken Licken," "The Tale of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse," "The Tale of Dick Whittington and His Cat," "The Tale of the Musicians of Bremen," and "The Tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff."
The great thing about owning the rights to your own work is that you are not bound by any restrictions. Nearly every time I have personally directed one of these plays, I have had reason to modify the script and add new songs. If I had a particularly talented cast, I could add more colorful characters and give them more interesting songs to sing. That's how "The Tale of Chicken Licken," "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse," and "The Adventures of Dick Whittington" became full-length musicals. Even "Momotaro" got some upgrades and a new song "Hero."
What I discovered is that each of these stories really had an overarching CHARACTER VALUE. Even though these theater pieces don't overtly preach morals, the values are plainly there. The parents and audience members were the first to point this out to me. And they were grateful to have vehicles that their children could be part of that would promote good works.
"Parizade's Quest" came about very differently. I needed a show that could feature 5 LEAD ROLES for GIRLS. (I had promised the 6th grade girls at the Elementary School a show where more girls could shine.) A friend mentioned a story from "The Arabian Nights" that she had recently read, "The Tale of the Speaking Bird." It turned out to have just the right qualifications, it even had a good value -- REUNITING A FAMILY. Not a ROMANCE, but a Love Story, nonetheless. This show is perhaps the most sophisticated of my Musicals. It is obviously targeted for an older cast -- ages 10-14.
Enjoy this VALUE song "Let Kindness Begin with Me" from "The Adventures of Dick Whittington."