WEST HARTFORD – A children’s book, Merrilee Mannerly, written by two former lawyers and moms, has become a musical, hitting the stage this week in the authors’ home state.
“If you had told me 7, 10 years ago that this book would be a musical someday, I wouldn’t have believed you,” says Mary Cashman, as she sits on the set at Playhouse on Park.
It’s a dream come true for Cashman, and her friend, Cynthia Whipple, who self-published the book several years ago.
“To have this show in West Hartford, to have our friends and family be able to see it, it’s a pinch yourself moment,” says Cashman.
“Crazy, like teary-eyed, could not believe that something that started in Mary’s study on a legal pad has come to stage,” says Whipple.
The children’s story revolves around the spunky main character. “Merrily is eight, eight and a half almost, and she loves manners, she’s really into them,” explains actress Liz Martelli, who plays the title role.
So, she tries to teach Princess Posey the art of consideration.
“It’s not an etiquette book and it’s not an etiquette play,” says Cashman. “It’s really a play about inclusiveness, kindness. I think it’s necessary now more than ever, absolutely.”
“I joke that children should come see the show but I have a long list of adults who I’d like to send an invitation to, as well,” says producer, director Ryan Ratelle with a smile. “Maybe they’ll learn something.”
The show is interactive – as the actors involve kids the audience in singing and dancing.
The team hopes to bring the play to New York then on a cross-country tour.
A little idea is making a big splash on the page and the stage with a simple yet relevant plot. “The message is so necessary,” says Whipple. “It’s all about basic kindness. You can’t lose with that.”
Merrilee Mannerly is on stage now, at Playhouse on Park, through December 15th.
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