The Little Show That Could
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 18, 1994
CONTACT: Nina Lynn 773/465-8668

   

Mickey and Judy have nothing on us . . .

Our story begins almost 25 years ago when ABC children's programmer Michael Eisner green-lighted the Schoolhouse Rock Emmy award-winning cartoon series that seeped its way into the consciousness of an entire generation.

Fast forward 20 years when five young Northwestern and Theatre School at DePaul graduates realized the series would make a great stage show. We formed the not-for-profit company Theatrebam Chicago and, after two years of frantic letterwriting, acquired the rights to adapt Schoolhouse Rock. Schoolhouse Rock Live! opened in 1993 in the basement of Cafe Voltaire in Chicago where the actors shared their "dressing room" with frozen tomatoes and lettuce.

The show quickly became a cult favorite and attracted the attention of reporters and critics. SRL! had to move to a larger theatre to keep up with growing audiences and took up residence at the Body Politic Theatre. After a two-year sold-out run in Chicago, the company decided to hook up with another young company and move Schoolhouse Rock Live! to New York for the summer of 1995.

In an effort to retain creative control of SRL!, we financed the production ourselves and avoided more established producers who didn't understand the spirit of the production or wanted to turn our arts and craft project into a spectacle and a parody of itself.

Producing in New York was a maze of unwritten codes and policies. "We not only successfully mounted the show, but brought the impossible-to-reach couch potato generation into the theatre," says New York producing partner, Michelle Cohen. As in Chicago, we carved a niche. We were both children's fare and a late-night adult attraction. We gained national media attention, appearing on Good Morning America, MTV News, National Public Radio, and CNN.

Just as we were gaining the momentum we needed, our short-term New York lease ended and we found ourselves without a home. Enter the Lamb's Theatre, a theatre complex and community center owned and operated by The Lamb's Manhattan Church of the Nazarene. Our missions complimented eachother. The generous staff at the Lamb's offered us their theatre and would not take no for an answer. Their support made it possible for us to reopen in November of 1995.

The show triumphantly returned to Chicago in 1996 and ran at the Victory Gardens Theatre and the Theatre Building until it closed on March 2, 1997.

Theatrebam Chicago has always been dedicated to reaching out to school audiences and our abbreviated version of SRL! has been on the road at least eight times a month since 1993. The production's diverse audiences have included students from the Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, and 3,000 high school students at the Illinois High School Theatre Festival at the University of Illinois.

ABC has finally begun to realize the potential of their own cartoon and the Schoolhouse Rock phenomenon is in full force: CD-ROMs, a cover album with bands like Blind Melon and Pavement, greeting cards, toys, hats, and brand new songs on Saturdays along with the release of remastered cartoon videos.

Theatrebam Chicago is thrilled that SRL! is now also available to other theatre companies and school drama departments through Music Theatre International. Productions for 1997 include a national tour, the Canadian premiere, and even a production in London's West End.

We think we can... we think we can...

 


©2005 Theatrebam Chicago