Feb. 23 2011 12:00 AM
A kindly bull prefers picking flowers to picking fights in "Ferdinand the Bull: A Musical." Courtesy Photo
It’s a bull market for theatergoers

He’s been smelling the flowers and charming audiences for decades, and now children’s literature favorite Ferdinand the Bull is about to truly find his voice.

His singing voice, that is. Arizona’s Childsplay, the nationally recognized theater company for young audiences and families, returns to Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre Sunday with “Ferdinand the Bull: A Musical."

Founded in 1977, Childsplay was awarded the 2010 Medallion Award from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.

Munro Leaf created the iconic character, a gentle, loving bull that prefers smelling flowers to facing bullfighters in the ring in the 1936 book, “The Story of Ferdinand.” Walt Disney Studios famously adapted the story of Ferdinand and his human counterpart, the reluctant matador, Danilo, into an Oscar-winning animated short two years later.

Karen Zacarias wrote the stage play and lyrics, with Deborah Wicks La Puma providing the melodies for this musical adaptation.

It’s a story perfectly suited to the talents of the Childsplay troupe, according to Bob Hoffman, Wharton Center Public Relations Manager.

“They create theater
that really instills a love and respect for theater in young people,”
Hoffman said, “and they’re really helping preserve theater for future

’Ferdinand the Bull: A Musical’

1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27 Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center $8 all seats (800) WHARTON www.whartoncenter.com

Stormfield Theatre classes start in March

Kristine Thatcher, Lela Ivey, Lynn Lammers, Rico Bruce Wade, Dana Brazil and Aral Gribble are among the theater artists who will be teaching classes in the Stormfield Theatre’s new Educational Outreach Program, which will run from March to June.

The six-week-long classes meet once a week. Topics include training in voice and articulation; directing; playwriting; improvisation; acting for the camera; children’s acting; acting in comedy; and Shakespeare study. Brazil, an Equity actress and the associate director of the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts & Creativity at Wharton Center, will teach a two-day audition workshop in April.

For times, prices and registration information, call (517) 488-8450 or visit www.stormfieldtheatre.org.