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Prelutsky adaptation premiers at Youth Theatre Northwest

Mercer Island resident and children's book author Jack Prelutsky's ``Something BIG Has Been Here'' will have its world premiere musical production at Youth Theatre Northwest, 8805 SE 40th St., this Friday.

The play is adapted from one of Prelutsky's best-known collections of poems by the same name. The author of over 50 books, most of them collections of original poetry, Prelutsky has helped rejuvenate children's poetry in the last few decades.

Mimi Katano, artistic director at YTN, is a fan of Prelutsky's work. She contacted the author two years ago with the idea of creating an original work based on the variety of characters in the book.

``Jack was very enthusiastic about people taking his poems and experimenting with them,'' Katano said in a press release.

After receiving exclusive rights to develop a musical based on Prelutsky's poems, Katano then sought out playwright Ellen Cooper and composer Joseph Seserko.

In the spring of 2004, with Prelutsky watching nearby, Katano lead a Conservatory Performance Evolution class that did a workshop version of the play. Over the past year Cooper and Seserko, working with director Laura Ferri, have expanded the play to the main stage.

Cooper said the challenge was finding the characters that intrigued her and to weave a story about those characters. Another task for Cooper was to keep within Prelutsky's wishes to leave the poems intact.

``The problems are solved by having the actors speak the poems as they are on the page,'' according to Ferri.

Cooper added: ``I simply built a framework whereby these characters all face challenges in their lives, which are solved by the appearance of Something BIG.''

YTN's Conservatory Troupe production of ``Something BIG Has Been Here'' is the culmination of a year-long study program whereby students auditioned for placement into an intensive learning environment.

The play features 16 actors between the ages of 10 and 15, along with a student crew of four.

Youth Theatre Northwest presents ``plays for kids by kids'' as part of its educational mission of nurturing the intellectual, artistic and personal development of children and youth through drama education, performing opportunities and live theatre experiences.

`Something BIG Has Been Here'

Where: Youth Theatre Northwest, 8805 S.E. 40th St., Mercer Island

When: April 29 through May 8; Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.,

Tickets: $15 for opening night (Friday, April 29); $11 during the run of the play for reserved seats. Tickets are on sale in advance or on the day of the show.

YTN box office: 232-4145, ext. 109

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