Where did you get the idea for Jane of the Jungle?
DEBORAH: As a mom, its both comforting and distressing to see my children going through many of the same issues I had growing up—and being able to have my teenage and tween-age girls read the script and talk to me about these issues has been a huge inspiration!
While Jane is an original story, some of your other pieces are based on books or fairy tales. How is it different when you’re creating from scratch? What’s the process like?
KAREN: Most of our musicals are created from scratch, except Ferdinand the Bull (which is based on the book) and Cinderella Likes Beans and Rice (which is an original spin on the beloved fairy tale). When you start from scratch, you know that the audience has no pre-conceived ideas of the story or the characters...so you have to build them right there on stage in that moment every time. You have to create the story and world. When something is adapted...you have something to lean on but that has its own up and downs. The audience must be able to recognize the story and characters, and yet still be surprised by what they glean from the stage. Adaptations need to both appease and challenge what audiences thought they knew.
|Deborah Wicks La Puma|
How has the piece changed since you started?
KAREN: In an earlier version, the play started when Jane moved to a new house and neighborhood. In another, Jane went to a new camp. We realized however, that the interesting thing that was happening to Jane wasn't the changes in the outside world, but what was changing on the inside. This version, Jane is living in her same house with her little brother Milo, with her same friends...and yet...everything changes anyway. Her friendship with her BFF Kayla changes a lot. How she figures out who she is as she's changing and how to deal with peer pressure is what this play is all about.
Is there anything you would want kids to know before they see the show?
KAREN: This show is about boys too. There is a really fun little brother Milo who is really important. His adventures are very exciting.
DEBORAH: This show makes me want to learn how to skateboard...(with a helmet, of course).
What do you hope kids take away from this show?
DEBORAH: That growing up is a scary but totally fun process that doesn't end when you are "grown up."
What keeps you coming back to writing musicals for young audiences?
KAREN: Young audiences are the most sophisticated, fun, demanding theater audience. And we like writing for the best.
DEBORAH: They say that teachers learn a lot from their students, and I know I learn tons about the world when looking at it from a young person's perspective. Young people focus on the future, not the past, and that is awesome!