The Growing Stage, the Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, is currently presenting the East Coast premiere of the award-winning children's play "With Two Wings" by Anne Negri. The play won the 2009 Playwrighting Award from the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences playwrighting competition; the Bonderman Award from Indiana Repertory Theater in 2011; and the PLAYground award from the Purple Crayon Players at Northwestern University, in addition to winning The Growing Stages' 2011-2012 New Play Reading Festival.
"With Two Wings" is a wonderful new play with a message that many of today's youngsters and parents will find important. It is an entertaining, sensitive tale that will touch both children and parents.
The story centers on a young man Lyf (sounds like "life") who lives with his 'differently-abled' parents in a strange world where people can fly like birds. However, Lyf's overly protective parents have raised him with a series of strict rules...the first is that he must never fly. The family lives on an isolated island in what appears to be a giant nest suggesting they are actually birds. Playwright Anne Negri says the winged characters in her play ”are sort of human creatures.” Despite the bird language used in the play, she says, they’re not birds. Or bugs."
Lyf's mother, who is obsessed with his safety, forbids any thought of his flying illustrating the danger by frequently reciting to her son the story of another young man who flew too close to the sun and his wings melted plunging him into the sea (the Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus). Lyf has the freedom of their home except for his father's mysterious workshop where his father has been working on a top-secret invention. Lyf's world changes when a young girl, Meta, stumbles upon his remote home. She is shocked that he has never left the confines of his home and does not know how to fly. Meta proceeds to give him his first flying lesson....how to land.
Later her newspaper reporter brother Taur (the play's villain) arrives and boldly enters the father's workshop emerging quickly with the top-secret invention....a single wing. Taur recognizes from the need for a single artificial wing that Lyf's parents are what his community calls dodos or as he cruelly declares 'one winged freaks.' When Lyf's mother and father encounter the intruders and see Lyf's admiring reaction to them and the outer world the two represent they reluctantly they accept that it is time to discard the rules and allow Lyf to fly....and more importantly take charge of his own life. In the end, the family, particularly the father and son, are drawn closer together.
The excellent cast includes five professional equity performers all with impressive professional credits; P. J. Schweizer (Doylestown, PA) is Lyf. A veteran of "Seasame Place" and was Hermey the Elf in the Growing Stage's recent holiday production of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Rosemary Glennon (Tewksbury) is absolutely charming as Meta. Glennon continues to impress as she did as Little Bo-Peep in last season's "Toyland" and the adult thriller "Veronica's Room" at the Bickford Theatre in Morristown. and Josh Carpenter (Queens, NY) is Taur. Carpenter is a veteran of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
Playing Mom and Dad are Lori B. Lawrence (Hackettstown) and Sam Kitchin (Sparta) . Lawrence, in addition to extensive acting credits, has directed throughout the state. Kitchin is a highly respected acting teacher. He has appeared on Broadway and numerous regional theatres, plus over 75 national and regional commercials. The director of "With Two Wings" is Stephen L. Fredericks, The Growing Stage’s Executive Director.
Playwright Anne Negri offers these comments (excerpted): "The original idea for With Two Wings came from a personal family experience and a question: what might life be like for a child born to two disabled parents?.... Around that same time, I had a dream about people with wings, which also led me to the Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus.... I also worked to change my characters from cartoon-like archetypes into complicated, fascinating, and multi-faceted beings."
Reviewed by Rick Busciglio February 2, 2013
A guidebook for the play provides a series of questions for parents and children to possibly discuss before or after seeing the production:
1) All families have rules. What are some of the rules you have to follow in your family? What are the consequences for breaking
2) What does it mean to bully someone? What are some different examples of bullying? Can peer pressure be considered a form of bullying?
3) What does the word disability mean to you? What are some examples of disabilities?
4) What are some examples of hurtful words? Why are certain words more powerful than others?
5) What are some examples of creatures with wings (real or mythological)?
6) What are your parents’ responsibilities to you and what are your responsibilities to your parents?
The play is presented in one 50 minute act. The Growing Stage, The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, located in the Historic Palace Theatre on Route 183 in Netcong, New Jersey "With Two Wings" will be performed through February 24th. Performances are Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., plus Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4 p.m.
The Growing Stage continues FUN-tastic Fridays with all tickets $15. Saturday and Sunday tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for children and seniors. To place your reservation, contact the Growing Stage Box Office at (973) 347-4946 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org Group rates and Birthday Party packages are available.
Visit the GS website for more information: www.growingstage.com