Children’s author Mo Willems will receive a double-dip of exposure this spring at the Woodruff Arts Center.
On Monday, the High Museum of Art announced it will present the retrospective exhibit “Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems” starting May 23 (through Jan. 10, 2016), and the Alliance revealed plans to stage Willems’ children’s production “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” from May 27 to June 21.
Supported by a recent Woodruff grant from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, the events mark the first time the High and the Alliance will present concurrent visual and performing art presentations of an artist’s work.
Featuring 100-plus works by Willems, from preliminary drawings to completed illustrations, “Seriously Silly” was organized by the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass.
“Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” will be directed by Rosemary Newcott, the Alliance’s artistic director of theater for youth and families. The one-act is about a time when Daddy’s in charge and things go terribly, hilariously wrong.
The shows from the three-time Caldecott Honor winner will be a major attraction of the Woodruff’s Toddler Takeover (May 29–31), an arts festival for ages up to 5.
This fall, the Alliance also will mount a new Theatre for the Very Young production, “Play the Play with Cat the Cat,” based on the Willems’ book series (appropriate for children as young as 18 months to early elementary school).
“Willems’ books move us through their sharp wit and deep understanding and respect for the emotional life of children,” High education director Virginia Shearer, managing curator for the exhibit, said in the museum’s announcement. “His books effortlessly present the child’s perspective, all while transcending the age of the reader in their ability to incite uncontrollable laughter.”