Kids will adore ‘Flat Stanley’ … and mom & dad might too

Friday, December 9, 2016

St. Lucie Voice News
Friday, December 9, 2016
By Shelley Koppel
Staff writer

Children, and a lot of grown-ups, too, love the story of “Flat Stanley,” the little boy who makes a wish to have adventures and do amazing things. When a bulletin board hears his wish, it falls on him and makes him flat, so he can be sent around the world in an envelope and slide under doors. He does, indeed, have many adventures, stopping a robbery at the Louvre and surfing off the coast of Hawaii.

The story was written by Jeff Brown in 1964, with illustrations by famed artist Tomi Ungerer. It has been turned into a musical with lyrics and music by Timothy McDonald and the Riverside Theatre, which presented it in Vero Beach in October, will stage it again, at the Lyric Theatre in Stuart Dec. 27.

Kevin Quillinan, an instructor at Riverside Children’s Theatre, is directing the production, which features apprentices who come to the Riverside for a year of theatrical productions.

“They’re recent college graduates with degrees in theatre from all over the country,” Quillinan said.
“Flat Stanley” follows last season’s successful production of a new musical, “Poodleful,” at the Riverside. It is part of an effort to bring live theater to young audiences and it, too, was also presented at the Lyric.

“With ‘Poodleful,’ our managing director, Jon Moses, was looking for theaters to partner with in bringing in family shows,” Quillinan said. “It was a natural fit to go back to (the Lyric) again.”

The show, which is called “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley,” is one Qullinan is enjoying directing.

“It’s one of my favorites,” he said. “It’s a really sweet, bright show with fun music and something for the whole family. The reaction in Vero was positive. Everyone loved it. We had to postpone one weekend for Hurricane Matthew but we brought it back two weeks later.”

Quillinan is also pleased with his cast.

“This is the best group of apprentices we’ve had,” he said.

“They’re awesome, a really great group. They have great energy and are really, really easy to work with. I’m glad they’ll have a chance to perform it at the Lyric. It’s a great opportunity.”

Of course, it is always a challenge for adults to play children, but a bigger question was how they make Stanley appear flat. Quillinan said the costume department at the Riverside deserves the credit for creating the illusion of a character who can fit in an envelope.

The director has a production in February with students in the Riverside’s education program. They will present the popular musical, “Seussical.”

The production of “Flat Stanley” runs about an hour and is ideal for audiences even as young as 3 or 4. It is such a good way to introduce children to the joys of live theater and make memories at the same time.

“The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” will be presented at the Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart, Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call the box office at 772-286-7827 or order online at