Performing arts

Multiple actors rehearsing for the production of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus: The Musical."

Inspired by the children’s book bearing the same title, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus: The Musical” written by Mo Willems and performed by the Kennedy Center will take place Friday at Wright Auditorium.

Willems is the writer of the #1 New York Times best-selling Pigeon series, which has also been awarded the Caldecott-Honor award along with writing numerous other children’s books. Willems has also accrued six Emmy awards for writing, has created two animated series and was a head writer for “Codename: Kids Next Door”.

While “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus: The Musical” is primarily aimed towards a younger audience, Debora Crabbe, the actress playing the Bus Driver, explains that the play drew her in because of its joy and message.

“Everything the bus driver does is about bringing joy to people, and throughout the piece, you see that,” Crabbe said. “This musical is different than others because of the message it sends to people: finding what makes you unique.”

Crabbe explained her love for the arts and its ability to bring people together and find common ground no matter the form.

“We all come from different walks of life, but theatre and arts bring us together. Whether it’s a song, a painting, a play, or a show, we all find common ground in the world of arts,” Crabbe said.

The musical combines acting, puppetry and music to create a one of a kind musical performance. It all starts when the Bus Driver has a crisis that could cause turmoil for her passengers and cause them to be late. The performance also includes music from award winning composer, Deborah Wicks La Puma, and a puppetry collaboration with Mr. Warburton, Disney Juniors Muppet Babies executive producer.

Associate Dean of Research, Marketing and Outreach for the College of Fine Arts and Communication, Michael Crane, is one of the people responsible for bringing the musical on campus. This will be the eighth play that has been brought to ECU from the Kennedy Center.

Crane explained that this play will be a part of the Arts Smart program, which “exists to introduce children from 13 countries in grades Pre-K to fifth to the power of professional, literature based, dramatic and musical performances.” The program serves many children who haven’t been on a college campus before and allows them to watch a live theater performance.

“Hopefully, the power of live theater, coupled with the great big open door of possibility will bring hundreds of first generation college students to ECU. That’s part of the power of the arts,” Crane said.

Crane is naturally a lover of the arts, and within his role, he aims to find performances, experience them, and decide whether they fit ECU’s constraints.

“I’ve had a few experiences with performances and performers at ECU that were truly sublime,” Crane said. “My role is to find exceptional performances and then facilitate a great experience for our guest artists and our patrons. Most of the feelings I get through this work is when an artist connects with a single individual. That’s something you can’t plan for.”

The musical will take the stage at 10 a.m. this Friday, in Wright Auditorium. Seating is reserved and tickets can be purchased online through the College of Fine Arts and Communication website under programs and Arts Smarts.

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