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Opera on Wheels teaches, entertains and gives back

Papagayo

West Virginia University students will bring the story of the playful parrot, Papagayo, to life for hundreds of West Virginia children in April.

Based on the children’s book by Gerald McDermott, “Papagayo” tells the story of a parrot that spends his days soaring through the sky and playing in the jungle, disturbing the sleeping night creatures. But when the ferocious Moon-Dog appears and, bite by bite, begins to devour the moon, the terrified night creatures are helpless and must look to Papagayo for help.

“’Papagayo’ is not only entertaining, but touches on themes of nature preservation and our environment,” said Rebecca Kreider, director of WVU Opera on Wheels. “Papagayo also shows his rainforest friends the importance of working together to solve a problem.”

Full Cast of Papagayo

Lead by James Kenon Mitchell, visiting assistant professor of opera, graduate and undergraduate vocal majors from WVU’s School of Music, accompanied by piano and percussion, make up the cast, using songs and puppets to bring the story to life.

Our jungle set, designed by WVU retired theater professor, William Winsor, along with the African drum and percussion will immerse the children in the world of the rainforest,” Kreider said.

“Papagayo” will be performed during the week for school groups from around the area at the Art Museum of WVU. As part of the trip, children will participate in a tour of the museum and galleries. An additional performance of “Papagayo” will take place at 2 p.m. April 15 at the museum and is free and open to the public. The play is appropriate for children in kindergarten – fifth grade.

Snake in Papagayo

For the first time in the program’s three-year history, Opera on Wheels will perform for patients at WVU Medicine Children’s at Ruby Memorial Hospital. The cast will perform the show in its entirety in the Children’s Activity Center at the hospital, then perform highlights room-by-room for patients unable to attend.

“We wanted to get involved with WVU Medicine Children’s to give back to the community and put smiles on the faces of these brave children” Kreider said.

WVU Opera on Wheels is funded through the James and Clara Thomas Opera Outreach Fund, which enables the program to operate with no charge for audience members.

As the program grows, Kreider hopes to take Opera on Wheels state-wide.

“Many of these children have never seen a live performance or been exposed to opera or the classical voice before,” Kreider said. “Their joy and wonder is infectious!”