East Carolina University’s College of Fine Arts and Communication will be performing “Yo, Vikings” at the Black Box Theater at the Student Center starting tomorrow morning at 10 and running until Saturday with their final show at 2 p.m.
There will be eight showings total, with three performances tomorrow at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m., three performances on Friday at the same time, and two performances on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to the event’s webpage.
General admission is $12 per show. Tickets can be purchased online through the ECU Performing Arts online ticket office website. The promo code “Redfox” can be applied to receive $10 admission, and groups of 20 or more can receive an additional discounted price of $6, according to Michael Crane, producing artistic director at the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
“This is an epic musical adventure of Emma, a 10-year-old, who is inventive and creative and a little bit out there because she’s so imaginative. It’s really her coming of age story where she begins to recognize her potential within her community. It’s also based on a true story, which is awesome,” Crane said.
According to Crane, the musical is based off a story written by author Judy Schachner, who is well known for her children’s series, Skippyjon Jones. Schachner wrote the story about her own daughter, Emma, who serves as the main character in the story.
Crane said the College of Fine Arts and Communication came to the decision to have the show in January of this year and began the audition process in February.
“Patricia Clark, director of the show and professor of theater for youth and theater education here, came to me with this idea in January, and we did the casting in the beginning of April. We had a big call upstairs and she had the cast within a week or two before school let out,” Crane said.
Crane, who additionally runs Family Fare and Art Smart at ECU, which puts on about six productions throughout the school year, said he wanted to extend those programs into the summer to create Summer Fare, and “nod back” to the summer theater program ECU had a couple of years ago.
According to Crane, there are a total of 23 cast and crew members. Along with Emma’s character, there are the roles of four of her classmates, who also are pretending to be Vikings, her mother, her teacher and her librarian. There are also 14 main songs in the musical as well as a few smaller pieces, and runs about 80 minutes long.
“This show will play well for the ages of four to 12, but it’s also a show for adults as well. There’s a song near the end where the mother is singing to her daughter (Emma), and it moves me every night. Come if you have kids, or if you don’t have kids, it doesn’t matter, it’s a nice story,” Crane said.
Crane said that performing at Black Box Theater will be a first for the College of Fine Arts and Communication, as theater performances are often held in Wright Auditorium. He is looking forward to seeing how the performance goes at the theater.
The cast and crew mainly consist of ECU students and alumni, except for the costume designer, who is coming from the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts, Crane said. There is a birthday party scene at the end of the production where children from ECU’s K-12 drama camp who are attending can participate in.
“There’s nothing juvenile about it. With Emma’s character, you feel for her, and you want her to succeed, and then she does, but it’s not a clear-cut journey, and that’s how she succeeds, and it’s almost by accident, but it still works. I know anyone who comes is going to have a great time. They’ll enjoy the script and love the music,” Crane said.
According to Savannah Medlin, the stage manager of the production, “Yo, Vikings” is about Emma’s journey to figure out who she is and finding her purpose. Emma’s character is always concerned with pleasing others and is seeking a big adventure.
The story is about Emma’s adventure, which leads to her and her classmates coming together to help save the library, which is losing its funding, Medlin said.
“It’s based off a true story. The author’s daughter, Emma, was obsessed with Vikings and wrote to a man who was offering a Viking ship for $7,000 (which she saw in a newspaper ad her librarian, Mr. Sigurd, showed her) asking for it for $128 in change, and he ends up sending it. That’s part of how they (Emma and her classmates) saved the library,” Medlin said.
According to Medlin, the cast auditioned in February and were cast for their roles in April. They began rehearsing for the production two weeks ago.
Although the musical is considered children’s theater, the script is written in a way which appeals to audiences of all ages, Medlin said. She said the script surprises her, and she believes people who come out to see it will enjoy it as well.
“Even if you’re not into theater, a lot of people, when they do finally come out and see a show, realize that they don’t have to be a part of it to enjoy it. Everyone enjoys watching TV, but this is a completely different, in-your-face experience that you can connect to more. So, I just think that it’s great for everyone,” Medlin said.
Joyce Cooper, who plays the characters of Sebby Ferdinand and Munoz/Olaf the Boorish, said the target demographic for the show is very broad. She said the writing of the script is advanced and the children’s lines in the musical are written in a way which isn’t childish.
According to Cooper, the story talks about subjects that people carry on throughout their lives, such as figuring out who they are as a person and learning to be comfortable with themselves.
Cooper believes this is the perfect time to bring back the summer theater which was “alive and popping” a few years ago, and that “Yo, Vikings” is a great show to kick it off with.
“I think it (summer theater) offers a really great opportunity for kids who may not have the opportunity during the school year to come and enjoy it. I think it can become a family event and also be a great time for ECU students who are in Greenville for the summer to come out. It’s going to be good,” Cooper said.
For more information on “Yo Vikings”, visit the webpage on the College of Fine Arts and Communication’s website. For ticket information, visit the online ticket office website, or call (252)-737-5444.