Friday, March 2, 2012

Story Pirates Perform CC's Story, 'Eena Met Everything'

When I mentioned last week that the Story Pirates were going to turn CC's animal-friendly story "Eena Met Everything" into a lively musical performance, I knew it would be fun. After all, we'd seen what the troupe had done with the life of Marie Curie.

I had no idea, though, that it would make me cry. As in, laugh-out-loud, wiping-my-eyes cry!

In one of their regular Saturday performances last week, the Story Pirates sang, danced and acted out several different skits -- all of them based on stories written by children. And the effect was truly magical.

The above video is their performance of "Eena," and Ian and I were amazed at how faithful they were to CC's story. The characters and plot are basically the same, while the music, dialogue and other fun flourishes are all courtesy of the Story Pirates.

Honestly, I think it blew CC's mind a little bit. I could tell that she was a little shy because of all the attention -- which isn't typical. In fact, I'm surprised she didn't try to go up and perform with them.

In addition to their weekend performances, the Story Pirates also visit schools and work their musical magic in the classroom.

Chatting with producer/performer Connor White over email, he told me that he got his Story Pirates start in New York, where the company originated. (They branched out to L.A. in March 2010.)

"As a performer, you are given the opportunity to start assisting in the classrooms, along with our highly trained teachers, and soon after I began performing with the Pirates," he wrote.

After assistant teaching and then moving out to L.A., White became a lead teacher for the school programs. In the summer of 2011, he added, "the Geffen Playhouse (where they're based) hired him to produce all 20 Title I public school programs that the Geffen funds each year." That's in addition to performing in Westwood.

So how does the process work for adapting a child's story?

"Adapting or 'building' a kid's story is primarily FAST," White wrote. "We have been fortunate enough to get nearly 60 LA comedians and actors who are sharp, funny and have great memories."

A typical school show, he added, includes eight stories, four to five of which are written by kids at that school. "We rehearse for a total of six hours per show," he added, and then a pianist joins them for the second rehearsal.

While the Pirates can't perform every child's story, they emphasize that it's not a contest. Also, they provide written feedback, called Story Love, for every child who submitted a story.

"It's very important to us that every child whose story is performed takes away from the show that their words and ideas matter," White wrote. "So often kids lose sight of the purpose of writing because it only comes up in a testing environment, and we believe that the silliest, most ingenious ideas come from a fun, creative environment, where any idea is a good idea."

CC is definitely a fan -- we all are. In fact, both Ian and CC have been singing one of the Story Pirates' songs, "Why Would You Do What a Dog Does?," over and over since Saturday. You can find it here on their YouTube channel.

For more information about Story Pirates performances, click here.

The Story Pirates
Saturdays at 2 p.m.
Geffen Playhouse Kinross Annex
10920 Kinross Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tickets: $15

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