It’s probably no surprise at all to readers who know me even slightly through this blog or my previous blog that I love musicals. The Sound of Music. Camelot. My Fair Lady. Annie Get Your Gun. The Music Man. Mame. Fiddler on the Roof.
I also love a middle-grade novel called The Great American Mousical, by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton. The idea for Mousical came to Julie one day when she was in her backstage dressing room before a performance. A mouse skittered across the floor, and Julie started thinking about all the mice that must inhabit the lower reaches of an old theatre — and she asked herself, “I wonder if they have a theatre, and put on plays of their own?” The Great American Mousical is how Julie and her daughter Emma answered that question.
But wait! There’s more!
For some time now, Julie and Emma have been working with a creative team to transform Mousical into a stage musical, and this autumn, it’s having its stage debut at Goodspeed Theatre in Connecticut. The Great American Mousical (the musical) will be running from November 8 to December 2, with Julie directing and the book’s illustrator, Tony Walton, doing set and costume design. (Tony is a Tony, Emmy, and Oscar winning designer.)
One thing that tells me as a writer is to be always ready to explore other channels through which to tell one’s story. There can be more opportunities out there than one realizes.
There’s another way that Mousical tells me more, as a writer. One of the delights of this middle grade novel is the extras at the back of the book. There is a glossary of theatrical terms, written in language kids can understand; there is a “playbill” for the production the mice stage in the book; there’s a “newspaper review” of the mouse production; and there are tips for children going to the theatre for the first time, written as though the tips are from the star of the mouse revue. All these things add to the enjoyment of the book, and to the learning that kids take away from reading the book.
In my own writing, I am finding that it is a great teaching tool to add “back matter” to my manuscripts, either a glossary of terms, or a list of hints. There can be more to a book than just the story.
M. Musicals, Mousical, and More!