The new musical “The Velveteen Rabbit” was written by award-winning multi-disciplinary creator and Youth Performance Company’s new Artistic Director Maya Washington and composed by Kymani Khalil in celebration of the 100th anniversary of this moving tale for young audiences.
In Washington’s adaptation, a child awakens to discover a Velveteen Rabbit among their gifts. Adored at first, then cast aside, the Rabbit is snubbed by the other toys for being old-fashioned. Over time, their friendship blossoms.
The Velveteen Rabbit learns what it means to be truly loved and love yourself—and the smiles and tears that come from being real. Youth Performance Company’s (YPC) staging of this updated “Velveteen Rabbit” places Twin Cities actor and director Antonio Duke at the helm as director, teaming up Washington as choreographer and Mary Cay Stone as musical director with a cast of diverse Twin Cities youth.
“When the show was hand-selected by YPC Founder Jackie Knight before I stepped into her tremendous shoes, it was important to me to honor the work of Margery Williams, a woman writer, on the 100th year anniversary of her significant contribution to children’s literature.
“With the nudging of some of our YPC Youth and community, I wrote the adaptation with intentionality,” said Washington. “In this production, under the direction of Antonio Duke, I’m excited to bring the emotional truths of self-acceptance and friendship to a new generation.
“I’m hopeful that the approach, and the diversity of our cast—diversity broadly defined—makes this story resonant for youth and families navigating how we connect to what matters most, and what it means to be real in a world that rewards facade on social media and all around us. These kids are amazing performers, and the heartfelt performances are what makes this world premiere truly special.”
The impressive cast includes those new to the stage and seasoned faces from the Twin Cities youth theatre scene. The delightful Sha’Vontie Juneau takes on the title role, and McKinley (Kiki) Fant plays The Child.
Screen actress, Valerie Rose makes her YPC debut as Nana, alongside talented youth performers Grace Ly, Sam Hierlinger, Jacob Marckel, Alaya Fuller, Lucy Heagle, Evergreen Niemi, Leah Holmes, Leo Johnston, Jonathan Grandberry, Clara Nerbonne, Izzy Gail Middlebrook, and Oakley Coleman, who round out the world of toys, animals, and humans tasked with bringing this “Velveteen Rabbit” adaptation to life.
School and community performances begin on Dec. 2 and run through Dec. 18, 2022, at the Conn Theatre at 1900 Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis. Tickets are $8-15.
—Information provided by Youth Performance Company