The Velveteen Rabbit, a story of devotion and the true meaning of love by British author Margery Williams, never loses its sheen or plush comfort. The Enchantment Theatre Company version of this classic tale comes to Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at UConn on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m.
As a girl in turn-of-the-century England, Williams always thought her toys were real, but she didn’t capture the classic story for young readers until she married and had her own two children, inspired as she watched them play with toys and animals. After struggling with writing for adults for years, in 1922, she published her most popular book, The Velveteen Rabbit: Or, How Toys Become Real.
The story starts when a young boy receives a toy rabbit as a Christmas gift and they become inseparable. The other toys in the nursery tease the rabbit about being made of only velveteen and sawdust. But the Skin Horse tells the rabbit he can become real if he is loved by a child and returns that love. After a time, the rabbit’s fur becomes shabby and his pink nose comes off. The boy tells his Nana that the rabbit is real and the rabbit is ecstatic. But the boy falls ill with scarlet fever and, once well again, the family decides to burn the possibly contaminated toy. Cast aside with a dark outlook, the stuffed rabbit cries a real tear and a fairy springs forth to turn him into a real woodland rabbit.
The story is told onstage with an original musical score, life-sized puppets, masks and magic. Enchantment Theatre, which brought its production of The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon to Jorgensen, plays off an accomplished staff of professionals in theater, television, music and the arts to bring the Velveteen Rabbit and his best counsel, the Skin Horse, to life in the home of the Boy who needs them most.
The Enchantment experts include composer/arranger Don Sebesky, winner of three Grammys and one Tony Award and who has worked with the London Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops and Chicago Symphony, and top talents such as Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Vanessa Williams, Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow and George Benson. Author and lyricist Gloria Nissenson’s songs have been recorded by Dave Matthews, Engelbert Humperdink, George Jones, Lesley Gore, Steve Lawrence and many others. Her film credits include Allegra’s Window on Nickelodeon.
The Velveteen Rabbit’s performance at Jorgensen is sponsored by Bank of America.
Jorgensen was recently named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers’ Poll for 2012 and “Best Cabaret” in 2011 and 2012 by Connecticut Magazine.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for children. For tickets and information, call the Box Office 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon–Fri at 860.486.4226, or order online at: jorgensen.uconn.edu. Free, convenient parking is available across the street in the North Garage.
*Note: The attached image of The Velveteen Rabbit is courtesy of Enchantment Theatre Company. Additional images are available in the 2012-2013 Press Photos Album on the Jorgensen website: http://jorgensen.uconn.edu/gallery/album.php?setid=72157630636906140.