Inlet Dance Theatre develops idea of new piece for families with young children (preview)

March 14, 2018 GMT

Inlet Dance Theatre develops idea of new piece for families with young children (preview)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Never has the name of the Idea Center been so apt.

Of all the places it could have fashioned a work based on the popular children’s book “What Do You Do With An Idea?,” Inlet Dance Theatre naturally chose a venue at Playhouse Square synonymous with thought and experimentation.

But that was just the icing on the cake. For Inlet director Bill Wade, the real joy was developing a piece for families in close collaboration with local artists.

“It’s so not about me or the company,” said Wade, by phone from Beaumont, Texas. “It’s about who’s in the audience and doing something creative for our children. It’s been really great engaging other creatives in Cleveland.”

Wade and crew didn’t land at the Idea Center by accident. They were invited there on behalf of Playhouse Square, specifically for the purpose of conceiving a new work of dance theater.

In their opinion, and Wade’s, there’s a shortage of quality, substantial performing art for young children and adults, and their goal was to fill the gap.

“There’s this missing component in the industry,” said Wade. “Americans are a little behind the curve in terms of creating art for youths in general.”

Literacy was another priority. Not only did the new work have to be of interest to four- to eight-year-olds. It also had to help and motivate kids to read.

Thus did Wade begin by browsing his local bookstore and stumbling onto Kobi Yamada’s best-selling story of a child with a brilliant idea that won’t go away.

“I got halfway through the book and I was getting all emotional,” Wade recalled. “I realized the book was totally my life story. It’s amazing how much honesty there is, how many times I can read it and still get something out of it.”

That was 2015. Since then, the company has been developing and refining a 45-minute presentation complete with an original score by longtime Clevelander Jeremy Allen, new costumes and scenic elements, and narration by Dee Perry. At one point, Inlet even got the chance to perform a version for the author.

In the Ohio Theater, look for the show to begin with characters in the lobby and to progress organically through the theater up to the stage. There, viewers will witness as a child’s idea hatches and grows in tandem with his confidence.

“It’s like a Pixar film,” Wade said, in reference to the famed Disney animation studio. “You take your kids, but you get a lot out of it, too.”

Now, like the child in Yamada’s book, Wade has an idea of his own. He’s thinking Inlet’s show might do well on the road, for schools across the nation.

The odds, certainly, are in his favor, given the message the show conveys.

With their ideas, Wade said, viewers of Inlet’s show are urged to ”[s]pend some time. Defer judgment. Give yourself permission. It’s a very life-affirming moment in the theater.”


Inlet Dance Theater

What: “What Do You Do With An Idea?”

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21.

Where: Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

Tickets: $10. Go to playhousesquare.org or call 216-241-6000.