Critically acclaimed children’s author and illustrator, Rosemary Wells, has published over 100 books for children and young adults. Her popular “Max and Ruby” series, originally published in 1978, has been transformed, in conjunction with Koba Entertainment into a 70-minute live theatrical production.
TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Melissa Goldstein spoke with the Rosemary Wells about the stage show “Max & Ruby Bunny Party” now touring in over 22 cities across the United States.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Where did you get the idea for Max and Ruby?
Rosemary Wells: Max and Ruby came right from my own children and that was more than 30 years ago. One of my children was five and the other was nine months. I listened to them very carefully when they didn’t know I was listening and that’s why the parents are not in the stories.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Is the grandmother part of the story because yours had an influence in your life.
Rosemary Wells: No. Writing is never an exact imitation of life. You do what works. For example, Max was a little girl in real life but I changed my younger daughter to a boy to make it more universal. I didn’t want to put the parents in and that’s why grandma is in because she’s one step removed.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What books or authors have influenced your writing the most?
Rosemary Wells: I read so much and I get an enormous amount from various authors. When I was a child I had Beatrix Potter and Robert Lawson and I had all the classics that children had in the 1940’ and 50’s.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What are some of the highlights of the show?
Rosemary Wells: I had a very, very, capable director and producer in Koba Entertainment. Patti Caplette was the person who put the show together. What I love about the show is that I’m a great believer in live theatre for children and children get very little of it. You’ll find thousands of little girls across America who want to be ballerinas but have never seen a real one in real life and this show has one. The music is wonderful and this show will inspire children to put on their own theatre. They used four of my books for the show.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Which four books is the show based on?
Rosemary Wells: Bunny Party, Bunny Money, Ruby’s Beauty Shop, and Max’s Dragon Shirt. They managed to weave all of them together and make a very convincing piece of theatre. Grownups will love it just as much as the kids. It’s very funny in an innocent sort of way. It really reflects the real Max and Ruby.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Which age groups is the show best suited for?
Rosemary Wells: From about age 3 or 4 up to about 7 or 8.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: How much input did you have in creating the show?
Rosemary Wells: I gave them the artwork, steered them to the books and had a conference about how to loosely join these books together. Koba Entertainment did the music, the actors and the costumes. Some of the costumes were done by the same company that did the costumes for the Royal Ballet.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: How many of the shows have you had a chance to attend?
Rosemary Wells: Well unfortunately, it’s like Brigadoon in that it only plays one night and then it moves on. So in my area there’s just been one performance and naturally I was there. It was all put together in Canada, in Winnipeg, which is about 9 hours for me by plane. So I didn’t attend as it was being put together.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: I know it’s a surprise party for someone special. Is it a character we already know?
Rosemary Wells: It’s a surprise part for grandma.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: Is there anything else you want to add?
Rosemary Wells: Live theatre for children is right up there in importance with reading aloud. It used to be part of our heritage many years ago and we’ve lost it and we’ve lost everything to screens in this culture and we need to bring it back.