The show runs from April 8 to May 8.
Stages Theatre Company’s latest play explores all the reasons for why it’s important to never ignore new ideas.
“What Do You Do With An Idea?” premiered at Hopkins Center for the Arts on April 8 and will run through May 8.
The play follows the journey of Kai, a young child trying to figure out exactly what the play is named after. She attempts to ignore it at first out of embarrassment, but later nurtures the idea and allows it to grow in spite of her doubts and fears. The audience follows the idea growing and change, until eventually the answer becomes clear.
The performance is directed by Melanie Salmon-Peterson, STC’s long-time production manager and her first return back to the directing since the pandemic began. She applauded the group of children performing in the production.
“This group, one of my co-workers put it this way, this is like the COVID kids. ... Some of them have been in shows before, a lot of them are new, But it’s sort of that group of kids that, they were home from school for a year or more and they didn’t have the opportunity to participate in a lot of the school activities... and they’re coming back into it and they’ve found this real sense of community,” she said, “This group, they found a real sense of support for one another, a real sense of why we do this kind of activity, why we do theatre and I think it really shows that they enjoy each other and enjoy the process. I thought that was really insightful.”
“What Do You Do With An Idea” was originally shelved when the company’s 2021 season was canceled due to the pandemic. But back when the company was first considering the show, Salmon-Peterson said seeing the book at an STC reading event made her realize it could be a cool show. Many kindergarten through third-grade teachers use the book in their curriculum, she said.
“There is a real sense of how you have to live with an idea that comes to you or a thought that comes to you that we are all so quick to either judge ourselves or allow other peoples’ judgments to sort of let us tamp down or negate what we’re thinking about doing. ... I think that’s a real powerful message of acceptance to who you are and what you think and that your ideas matter and you should respect them and you should expect other people to respect them,” Salmon-Peterson said.
Stella Schlegelmilch is the 11-year-old behind the spunky and evolving Kai, the young girl who has a burgeoning idea throughout the production. She described her character as occasionally edgy, a bit sarcastic, but also very loving and creative.
“My favorite part about the show is the growth that every single character goes through, both literally and internally, like my character grows a lot during the show just as a person with confidence and finding herself and I think that it’s really powerful because as Kai’s idea is growing, so is she,” she said.
Alanna Nyberg is the 17-year-old who portrays the second version of the idea, “Big Idea.” Kai’s idea developed into three stages and was played by three separate performers. Nyberg felt her character was in her awkward teenage stage where she wasn’t little anymore and also wasn’t an adult yet, but she was discovering who she was.
“The message is very important and it’s about believing in your idea and not really caring what other people have to say about it because people will always have opinions about everything that you do, every idea that you have and the most important thing is that you have your opinion about your things and what you think about your own creations,” she said.
Her and the other cast members will get the rare opportunity to meet the author of the book, Kobi Yamada and composer Sharon Kenny, who will both be in the audience to watch performances next weekend.
“I’m so excited. I love the book and I can’t wait. It’s going to be so fun and I really hope that they like the play,” Nyberg said.
Schlegelmilch said she looks up to both Kenny and Yamada and can’t wait to meet them.
The production is recommended for all ages. Tickets begin at $14 and can be purchased at https://my.stagestheatre.org/overview/what22.