Earlier this year, Lawrence audiences got to see Stephen Sondheim's unusual take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale in the musical "Into the Woods" as a special event in the Kansas University Concert Series.
Now, younger Lawrence audiences will get a another off-beat look at the folklore heroine in Seymour Barab's opera "Little Red Riding Hood." The opera will be performed at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the West Junior High School auditorium.
The production is co-sponsored by Concerts for Young People and the Kansas University Opera Workshop. The production will be directed by John Stephens, a KU associate professor of voice, along with musical director Mark Ferrell.
"We have a long-term commitment to stage local productions of opera," said Mike Shaw, the president of Concerts for Young People. "We're always looking for operas aimed at children."
SOME OF those works have included "Cinderella," "The Magic Flute," "Don Pasquale," "Hansel and Gretel" and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. In addition, the group has brought companies such as a youth ensemble from the Joffrey Ballet and the American Youth Ballet in for performances.
"The Joffrey had a group of six 16-year-olds who were just out of sight," Shaw said.
Concerts for Young People began in the 1972-73 school year, Shaw said. For this year, the group decided to take advantage of the Opera Workshop to provide a locally produced performance.
"The Opera Workshop is limited in where it can perform," Shaw said. "We decided to make a deal: if they would stage an opera for children, we would provide them with a performance space, in this case the West Junior High School auditorium.''
IN THIS version, Little Red Riding Hood has an unusual characterization, and she is paired with an unusual wolf, according to Barbara Stephens, a member of the Concerts for Young People board. For example, the wolf takes on an aversion to childish sweets, and Little Red manages to exploit that.
In addition to the weekend performances, the group sends the production into area schools; for example, the opera was performed last Wednesday and this morning at the Riverside and Wakarusa schools.
The group also has an outreach program that brings performers into the schools. For example, John Stephens, pianist Jack Winerock and marimbist Linda Maxey have ventured out to perform in the schools over the past three years. Maxey has performed this year as part of that program.
Tickets for the weekend performances of "Little Red Riding Hood" area available at the door and at Alvin's IGA, 901 Iowa.