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Opera For Kids Fires Up Fans

Laura Kennedy

In a dusty old bookshop, three tech obsessed young people face a perilous task to save all the books in the world from a dark force known as The Blank.

That's the premise of the latest children's touring opera that's produced by Prairie Fire Theater in cooperation with The IWU School of Music.  The lively romp features classical arias composed by favorites such as Mozart and Verdi,  with new a new book and original story written by Nancy Steel Brokaw.  And it's a challenging audience to reach.

"We've got five or six hundred kids on the floor of a gymnasium at the end of the school year," said Brokaw. "We have to get their attention right away and hold it. We have to find a way to keep the 5th and 6th grade boys amused while not terrifying the kindergartners. It's a fine art," she laughed.  

Credit Prairie Fire Theater
Prairie Fire Theater strives to make kids into opera fans.

IWU student Sara Caligiuri is performing in this year's show, entitled The Last Book on Earth. "It's really cool because it tackles issues of media presence for children, as well as the importance of telling a well-written story as it follows these three kids who are addicted to their phones who, after getting locking in this books store, have to go through various stories in order to save the world from the loss of stories all together."

While some kids might consider going to the opera to be slightly less preferable to going to the dentist, Nancy Steele Brokaw aims to change their minds. "The may have the idea that opera is something that they don't like, but we hope to have them come away madly cheering for the whole show.  That's our passion."

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Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.