When it was suggested she write a book based on her children’s play “The Epic Adventures of Lulu’s Lemonade Stand,” local playwright and director Holly Erin McCarthy didn’t hesitate to say yes.
The children's play, starring Rachel Tondreault as Lulu, is playing at the Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. through Aug. 31 in the outdoor theater. Surrounded by tall leafy trees, the theater is a charming and refreshing environment to enjoy a show in. On rainy days, the play is performed indoors.
The play tells the tale of 11-year-old lemonade stand owner Lulu who, late to her own birthday party, must traverse the peculiar town of Bixby in order to get home. On the way, Lulu encounters a pirate, a Viking, an island full of “cute noises” and an evil baker with magical powers. Its sharp dialogue and hilarious characters is sure to delight parents and children alike.
McCarthy wrote the play five years ago with fellow playwright Christopher Compton. It was performed at the Cotuit Center For The Arts and starred a whopping 25 kids. This year, things have changed. Now showing at the Cape Rep Theatre, McCarthy has taken on the difficult task of pairing the cast down to just six adults. While busy directing them, she has written her book, also entitled “The Epic Adventures of Lulu’s Lemonade Stand.”
“Jeanine, the artistic director here, had always wanted to have a companion picture book with the show,” McCarthy explained. “I had never written a book before.”
But the process of writing it came surprisingly easy. McCarthy’s sister, a reading specialist, elementary school teacher and now the editor of her book gave her some useful advice. “She was like, ‘You should make it rhyme, you should make it rhyme!’ Once I started doing the rhyming it all became so much easier and just flowed. I wrote it in about five hours, just sitting in the library.”
Sander Goldman, a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, illustrated the book. A Cape Codder himself, Goldman was the perfect choice to convey McCarthy’s vision. “We really wanted to keep the whole thing local to Cape Cod,” she said.
The story of Lulu and her lemonade stand on the surface appears to be a simple children’s story. It is in fact based loosely off of Homer’s “The Odyssey.” Lulu is Odysseus, her worried father waiting for her at home is Penelope, the eye-patch wearing pirate and Viking duo represents the Cyclops, the Cute Noise Isle is reminiscent of the sirens, and so on. The play’s dialogue is also quite sophisticated for a children’s play, but McCarthy says that it’s better that way.
“I don’t like to talk down to children,” she explained. And in fact, references to the “The Odyssey” do not go over their heads. “A lot of times kids will recognize it during the show. I really value theater. I think it’s the best way to teach empathy.”
Now that the play is in book form, children will be able to enjoy the story long after the play has ended. “Kids can relive a story a million times,” McCarthy said.
Kids who attend will also get to meet the six-person cast after the show and have their books signed by them. Tickets are $10 and are general admission.
“The Epic Adventures of Lulu’s Lemonade Stand”
At Cape Rep Theatre
Through Aug. 31, Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Information and reservations: 508-896-1888, www.caperep.org