Monday, June 19, 2006

The Great American Mousical

The Great American Mousical by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Tony Walton, 2006 ( The book is a family effort -- Emma is daughter of Julie and Tony.)

Julie Andrews Edwards says her idea for the story occured while she was working on a PBS program, Broadway: The American Musical. They were filming in one of the famous Broadway theaters when a mouse came out to observe. The theater people admitted the lower levels of the theater were quite overrun with the critters.

A troupe of mice are putting on a New Year's Eve extravaganza in the basement of of Sovereign Theater. Their little theater is the architect's model of the the original theater. The actors include an older, Shakespeare quoting, character actor named Harold; the ingenue, Wendy; the handsome leading man, Curly and every other stock character from any musical you can think of. The characters' names themselves, all come from American musicals.

The new owners of the Sovereign, plan to tear the theater down and replace it with a television studio. This news shocks the acting company. Disaster strikes again when the diva, Adelaide, is caught in a humane mouse trap up in the costume shop. The group must put aside their distress and and rework the show because "the show must go on."

Adelaide is released near the docks and befriended by a professor of mouse lore named Henry who promises to help her get back to the theater in time for the performance.
The traditions of the musical theater are included: the ingenue who must step-up to take a star turn, the young theater-struck Pippin who just wants a chance to show what he can do, and Adelaide, the grande dame whose star power cannot be matched. The musical numbers, although not named, obviously come shows like My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof.

The pen and ink illustrations by Walton support the storyline. The scenes of NYC are nicely done with an excellent degree of detail. A pleasant read, the book offers an opportunity for youngsters to learn more about the theater. A teaching guide is available. An extended glossary of theatrical terms is included. I like a book for kids that uses words like proscenium.

The Great American Mousical Website


Unknown said...

My daughter would like this. We both loved Mandy, and she likes NYC. Thanks.

Camille said...

I am such a musical theater fan, I found myself trying to match the character names with the shows BEFORE I found the teacher packet with the same activity. I also like mice stories. I used to read all the "Rescuers" books. Hmmm...I should revisit those books. Kids do not read them now, even if they are in their libraries.