First Stage presents: LOVABYE DRAGON

Contact Erica Davis (414) 267-2931 or

First Stage presents: LOVABYE DRAGON
A world premiere musical adapted from the “Dragon and Girl” books by
award-winning Wisconsin author Barbara Joosse

January 21- February 19, 2017
Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Adapted from the “Dragon and Girl” books by Barbara Joosse
By Jeff Frank with help from Barbara Joosse

Music and Lyrics by The Happy Racers

Directed by Jeff Frank

Milwaukee, WI – First Stage continues its First Steps series with the world premiere of LOVABYE DRAGON, January 21 through February 19, 2017. Performances will take place at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located at 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee. First Steps performances are designed to provide families with young children (ages 3-7+) an introduction to theater in an engaging environment. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at the First Stage Box Office at (414) 267-2961.

Covering three books in the Dragon and Girl series by Wisconsin author Barbara Joosse – Lovabye Dragon, Evermore Dragon and Sail Away Dragon – this adaptation with infectious music and lyrics by The Happy Racers is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. “Our young audiences are sure to love this enchanted tale of a friendship between a girl and a dragon,” commented Frank. “We’re thrilled to premiere this story by one of Wisconsin’s finest writers on our stage, and the music created for the show by The Happy Racers will have children and adults singing and dancing as they leave the theater.”

“Everyone at First Stage is wildly creative and skilled, said Author Barbara Joosse, who has been very involved in the process.  “I’m over the moon with Lovabye Dragon and so is my little girl self. The musical is the most exciting thing to happen in my career, and is everything I dreamed.”

Scenic and Puppet Designer Brandon Kirkham pulls audiences into the world of LOVABYE DRAGON with an enchanted set and a 14-foot dragon puppet that requires three puppeteers to operate.

First Stage’s production of LOVABYE DRAGON is sponsored by PNC.

Director Jeff Frank – Jeff has been First Stage’s artistic director since February 2003. Previously he had served as education director/associate artistic director beginning in 1996.  Jeff is a native Wisconsinite who earned a B.F.A. in Theater from UW–Whitewater and went on to the University of Utah, earning an M.F.A. in Child Drama. This fall Jeff was welcomed back to the University of Utah where he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus in the theatre department. Over the past 20 seasons Jeff has directed over 50 First Stage productions.  Among his favorites are:  THE SNOW, LUCHADORA!, PETER PAN AND WENDY, U: BUG: ME, THE NEVERENDING STORY, A MIDNIGHT CRY, PERSEUS BAYOU, TOMSAWYER and NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER.  He would like to thank his daughters Marion and Lillian for sharing their father with countless other young people, and his wife Sarah who makes all things possible. To you our audiences – thank you and bless you for believing in the power of theater to transform lives. When we step away from our handheld devices and take the time as a family, as a class, and as a community to come together for a shared experience we re-engage our hearts and souls and embrace the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and our community – and our community needs that understanding now more than ever. I encourage you to continue the conversations sparked by your visit when you leave our theater.

The adult cast of LOVABYE DRAGON features Chase Stoeger as Troubadour; Giana Blazquez as Mother/Ensemble; and J.T. Backes as Father/Ensemble.

Young performer roles are double-cast. Young performers in the Island Cast are Eloise Field (as Girl) from Oconomowoc; Kenyon Proby (Ensemble), Jasmyne Lafromboise (Ensemble) and Alayna Perry (Ensemble) from Milwaukee; and Claire Zempel (Ensemble) from Wauwatosa.

Young Performers in the Sea Cast are Abby Hanna (as Girl) from Franklin; Travis Cheever (Ensemble) from Oak Creek; Jasmine Love (Ensemble) from Milwaukee; Eleanor Hannan (Ensemble) from Wauwatosa; and Marissa Cobb (Ensemble) from Menomonee Falls.

The Artistic Staff for LOVABYE DRAGON includes:  Jeff Schaetzke (Music Director); Brandon Kirkham (Scenic/Puppet Designer); Darryl Harris (Costume Designer); Nick Belley (Lighting Designer); Matt Whitmore (Sound Designer); Jermey Phillips (Stage Manager) and Marissa Ashlyn Raby (Assistant Stage Manager).

TICKETS for LOVABYE DRAGON are $14.  Tickets may be purchased at or by phone (414) 267-2961.


The Happy Racers DANCE PARTY: Sunday, January 22 at 2:30 p.m.
Get ready to smile, laugh and dance with THE HAPPY RACERS, the music behind First Stage’s world premiere play LOVABYE DRAGON. Your $20 ticket gives you an all-access pass to this rockin’ dance party, plus a meet & greet with the band after the show! Tickets available at

Sensory friendly performance: Saturday, February 11 at 3:30 p.m. Developed for families with children who need sensory accommodations, this performance includes a smaller audience size, reduction of intense lighting and sound, social stories, quiet areas and more. Tickets available at (414) 267-2961.

ASL Interpreted Performance: Sunday, February 19 at 1:00 p.m. This performance will be sign language interpreted.




Location:  Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee

Dates:  January 21- February 19 2016                                                                         

Description:  From the Dragon and Girl series by award-winning Wisconsin author Barbara Joosse comes an enchanting new musical of unexpected friendship between a lonely girl and an even lonelier dragon. Together they embark on a grand adventure to the farthest far away only to face their greatest challenge. With music by The Happy Racers, this show is guaranteed to get your toes tapping and to put a smile on your face. Suggested for families with young people ages 3-7+

Saturday, January 21 at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 22 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 28 at 11:00 a.m, 1:00 & 3:30pm.
Sunday, January 29 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 4 at 11:00 a.m, 1:00 & 3:30pm.
Sunday, February 5 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 11 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 12 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 18 at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 & 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 19 at 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.

Tickets and information:
  Tickets are $14. Call (414) 267-2961 or online at

About First Stage
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in the 2016-2017 season, First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young audiences and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. Its Theater Academy, the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people, fosters life skills through stage skills and serves over 2,100 students each year. As Wisconsin’s leader in arts-integrated education in schools, First Stage’s dynamic Theater in Education programs promote active learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students throughout southeastern Wisconsin each year.  In 2012, First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. First Stage is the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award in 2013 and 2015, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education, and the arts. First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).

About Author Barbara Joosse
Barbara Joosse has written many books for children. Among them are Mama, Do You Love Me?, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee; and I Love You the Purplest, illustrated by Mary Whyte. She says, “When I was a little girl, I wished for two things — a best friend, and something so ferocious it would scare away the monsters under my bed. And so I have written Lovabye Dragon. I think maybe it’s for little me.” Barbara Joosse lives in Wisconsin.

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