Once upon a time in the enchanted land of downtown Fort Wayne, Leslie Hormann, executive director of Fort Wayne Youtheatre, had the brilliant idea to celebrate young input in the region's arts and culture. By joining Youtheatre together with other local performing arts groups, the playful and entertaining Fairy Tale Fest was born.
The Fort Wayne Youtheatre will kick off summer festivities downtown on Thursday, May 17 with this musical event that includes activities for the whole family.
Christopher Murphy, Youtheatre's assistant director, said that since its inception, Fairy Tale Fest has grown bigger and more inclusive each year.
"Theater is such a collaborative art, and we are so lucky in this community to have so many amazingly talented arts groups," Murphy said. "So Leslie thought it would be a great way to end the theater season with the Fairy Tale Fest which not only highlights what is generally our biggest production of the year, but would also give an opportunity for some of these other groups like the Fort Wayne Ballet and the Dance Collective a chance to also perform some of their youth-oriented pieces."
Fort Wayne Youtheatre kicks off the event at 10 a.m. on Thursday with their main stage performance of Pinocchio in the Arts United Center. The day's festivities continue with the final performance of A Grim Mother's Tale over in the Auer Center's black box theater at 2 p.m. Between these shows families can enjoy a production of Rapunzel by the Fort Wayne Ballet as well as performances of Crumpet the Trumpet by the Fort Wayne Dance Collective. And amid the scheduled performances, attendees can expect to see popup productions throughout the day.
In addition to the performances, children can also experience outdoor activities such as face painting, a bouncy castle and meet-and-greets with fairy tale characters.
While collaboration with local art entities is key to the event, now in its fifth year, Murphy said community partnerships are another way organizers involve more people in the Fairy Tale Fest.
This year, Fort Wayne Youtheatre is partnering with the Fort for Fitness program Kickstart to expand the event's programming and include more activities for all ages.
Live music, food trucks and bicycle courses will all be on the agenda. Murphy tells whatzup that while the Youtheatre is a "theater for children by children," their intent is to engage adults as well.
"We try very hard to provide not just a show but an event that is going to be fun for every single member of your family."
The main event of the day, however, will be Youtheatre's production of Pinocchio which opens Thursday, May 17 with additional performances on Friday and Saturday.
The cast of Pinocchio is made up of 36 actors, most of them youths along with a handful of adult performers.
Actors began rehearsal in early April and, according to Murphy, have demonstrated nothing but dedication and tenacity.
"It's a little like being shot out of a cannon. We load it as soon as we cast, and there's not a moment to spare getting ready for opening night."
Murphy said he is moved by the energy and devotion the young actors bring to their roles.
"I always tell people, if ever you doubt or fear for the future of this world, come and spend five weeks with one of my casts and see how hard they work and how seriously they take what they do and how much energy they put into being the best they possibly can be and it will erase all of those fears."
Murphy is also eager to show off the hard work his cast is putting into their production of Pinocchio with the opportunity to perform on a larger, more distinguished stage.
"We are very excited because a lot of times we are doing shows in small venues like the black box or over at First Presbyterian, so this is a chance, since we are performing on the Arts United Stage, to involve more of these amazingly talented young people."
Murphy said he hopes this momentum continues. "Our goal is hopefully continue to build on it and bring awareness to it."
Fairy Tale Fest presents a wonderful opportunity to support and interact with the future of northeast Indiana's performing arts culture.
Whether you are charmed by the nostalgic and lighthearted fables, curious about the splendor of the event or just in it for the food trucks, the Fairy Tale Fest has a little bit of "happily ever after" for everyone.