“Last Stop on Market Street” is the delightful children’s book by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson that won a Newbury Award and a Caldecott Award. The story revolves around CJ, a young boy from the suburbs who visits his Nana in a bustling city that almost becomes too much for him. He wants to stay inside with his electronic gadgets, but Nana wants CJ to see the world around him so she takes him on a bus ride where CJ learns lessons in kindness, gratitude and appreciating the good in others.
It’s a tale begging for a stage production, but South Coast Repertory has gone a step further and adapted the book into a musical theater piece that has its premiere January 7 through 23 on the Julianne Argyros Stage as part of SCR’s Theatre for Young Audiences series.
“This is our first in-person Theatre for Young Audiences and Families offering in almost two years and we look forward to welcoming back our youngest theatregoers,” said SCR Managing Director Paula Tomei. “They represent our future—not only as potential audience members, but as artists and other theatre lovers. We are committed to engaging them in stories and productions that bring meaning to their world and spark their imaginations. And we know adults enjoy them too.”
“’Last Stop on Market Street’ is a truly special theatre experience, brimming with discovery, heart and joyous music,” said SCR Artistic Director David Ivers. “The story is particularly relevant for people of all ages right now. In CJ, we see a boy who chooses to exist in his own bubble, isolating from the world that surrounds him. It takes a grandmother’s love and patience for him to realize that everything and everyone around him can be interesting, exciting and beautiful in its own way.”
In a video posted to South Coast Repertory’s website, SCR’s Artistic and Audience Engagement Associate H. Adam Harris notes that “the book doesn’t tell us specifically where grandma lived, but our production is setting it in Santa Ana. When you come see the show, you’ll see the beauty and color and streets of Santa Ana right here on stage, including a bus.”
In the play, Harris explains that while Nana and CJ have their differences – she speaks Spanish, he doesn’t, he’s a vegetarian and she eats meat – they learn to communicate and trust each other.
“We see CJ learn from his grandmother about the power of community,” said Harris. “She teaches him what it means to be of service to others and she helps him find joy and laughter. This is also a musical, with songs across multiple styles: Motown, hip hop, R&B, soul, gospel, jazz. We guarantee you will be humming and singing these songs long after the curtain goes down. it is a play for the whole family.”
The play is adapted by Cheryl L. West. This is West’s first SCR production since “Jar the Floor” in 1994. Two years later, West won a National Endowment for the Arts Playwriting Award. An accomplished adaptation writer, West’s play “Before It Hits Home” was optioned by Spike Lee, and West was asked to write the screenplay.
Lamont Dozier, and his son, Paris Dozier, wrote the music and lyrics. A 1990 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Lamont Dozier is one of the most prolific songwriters and composers of the late 20th century. As part of the songwriting and producing team Holland-Dozier-Holland, he played an integral role in creating the sounds of artists such as The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas and The Isley Brothers. Lamont Dozier co-wrote and produced 14 Billboard No. 1 hits in the U.S.
Paris Dozier has written songs for Disney Music Group’s Hollywood Records, along with Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels’ Above Average Productions, among others.
Oanh Nguyen returns to SCR to direct. The founding artistic director of Chance Theater in Anaheim, Nguyen was a producing associate at SCR for three years and served as associate director for SCR’s productions of “The Happy Ones,” “Misalliance,” “Chinglish” and “Abundance.” He directed the Theatre for Young Audiences production of “The Night Fairy.”
For tickets and more information, call (714) 708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.