The Flea and the Professor

Arden Theatre Company

2010
$110,000

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Scott Greer and Robert McClure in The Flea and the Professor. Photo by Mark Garvin.

The Flea and the Professor marked the Arden Theatre's first commission for its children's series. The musical, written by Guggenheim Fellow Jordan Harrison with composer Richard Gray, brought the talents of these artists to the Arden for the first time. Based on author Hans Christian Andersen's final story, the play—described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a "technicolor adventure"—chronicles the adventures of a shipwrecked professor and his best friend, a flea, as their hot-air balloon lands among cannibals. Andersen's original fable is embellished with a pop music score. Alan Schneider Award winner Anne Kauffman directed this world premiere, after a workshop at the Kennedy Center's prestigious New Visions/New Voices Festival. Nearly 17,000 people saw the production, including 2,900 low-income students and underserved audiences in the area, who attended the show for free. In reviewing the production, the Inquirer wrote, "The Arden Theatre does not consider your children second-class citizens, not even the youngest ones. The results are exciting, funny, and creatively imagined."

Click here to watch a preview of The Flea and the Professor.