Orlando Repertory Theatre's 2013-14 season is full of familiar names for children and their parents: baseball great Jackie Robinson, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Freckleface Strawberry and Richard Scarry's animals from Busytown.
The Rep's 11th season of productions for young audiences kicks off in July with the return of its annual Family Theatre Festival, including a free Party in the Park and performances by guest artists.
"Ivy + Bean The Musical" (Sept. 5-Oct. 6) opens the theater's mainstage series. Based on the popular books by Annie Barrows, playwright Scott Elmegreen brings the mischievous second-grade heroines to the stage.
Just in time for the World Series will be "Jackie and Me" (Oct. 10-Nov. 10), a play by Steven Dietz based on Dan Gutman's popular book. The story: Young Joey Stoshack can travel through time by using a baseball card. When assigned to write a paper about Jackie Robinson, he heads to 1947 and witnesses the black baseball player's courageous perseverance during the turbulent time of segregation.
The stage version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (Nov. 14-Dec. 29) features the great characters and songs from the classic Rankin-Bass television special. Rudolph, Hermey, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snowman show that being different isn't such a bad thing as they save Christmas.
The classic story of Camelot gets another spin in "The Magic Adventures of Merlin" (Jan. 23-Feb. 23, 2014). This reimagined tale explains how the young wizard Merlin meets soon-to-be king Arthur in mythical ancient England. Things become complicated when Merlin faces a choice between his magic and his friendship with Arthur and Guinevere. And then there's that matter of the sword in the stone. The adventure, by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, is set to music.
In "Busytown," (Feb. 20-March 30, 2014) the friendly animals created by children's author Scarry take the stage as Huckle Cat takes the audience on a tour of his neighborhood. Famer Pig and Grocer Cat work together to bring food to the town, while Fire Chief and his gang keep everyone safe. The show was written by Kevin Kling and Michael Koerner, the same writers of the Rep's successful "Lyle the Crocodile."
The final show of the season will be "Freckleface Strawberry The Musical" (April 17-May 25, 2014), based on the picture book by actress Julianne Moore. Adapted by Gary Kupper and Rose Caiola, the play depicts the great lengths Freckleface Strawberry goes to in trying to rid herself of freckles. With the help of her schoolmates, including a talented ballerina and a kooky teacher, Freckleface learns that everyone is different — and that's what makes everyone special.
In addition to the play series, the Repertory Theatre has also scheduled special events throughout the year:
• A Mr. Richard & The Pound Hounds Halloween Concert, Oct. 25-26: The child-friendly rock band will host a sing-along with cool tunes of the season.
• A Very Merry Power Chords Christmas, Dec. 20: The Rep's youth show choir performs for the holidays.
• Pip-Squeak: An Anti-Bullying Magic Show, Jan. 13-18, 2014: Magician Tony Brent uses comedy, juggling and magic tricks to gently teach children how to cope with bullying.
• Sparked for Spring, April 4, 2014: The Power Chords return in a high-energy concert.
The theater is at 1001 E. Princeton St., in Orlando's Loch Haven Park. Season-subscription sales begin May 6, with tickets to individual shows beginning July 19. For more information, call 407-896-7365 or go to http://www.orlandorep.com