Knoxville Children’s Theatre, in partnership with The Ritchie Company, will present a world-premiere production of “The Island of Dr. Libris,” based on the 2015 New York Times best-selling novel by Chris Grabenstein. The play, adapted by Chris Grabenstein and Ronny Venable, will be performed May 5 through May 21, Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m.; Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m.
Young Billy Gillfoyle is spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on with Dr. Libris’ private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books, he can hear strange sounds coming from the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life. But that’s impossible… Isn’t it?
The play was written by Chris Grabenstein and Ronny Venable, who first met while performing at the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville. They co-wrote the 1986 CBS movie The Christmas Gift, starring John Denver. Grabenstein is the award-winning author of the New York Times best-seller Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and co-author of the #1 best-selling series “I Funny.”
Both NYC playwrights will attend the 1 p.m. performance on May 13 and hold an informal Q&A session with the audience immediately following the show.
The play is performed by 17 talented young actors, from ages 8 to 16. Ethan J. Reed plays the enigmatic scientist Dr. Libris, owner of the seemingly magical island. Luke Carter will portray Billy Gillfoyle.
Many famous book characters “come to life” during the show, such as Robin Hood, Maid Marion & the Sheriff of Nottingham (played by P. J. Copeland, Annika Kallstrom and Lucas Cunic), Tom Sawyer (Eason Bullard), Pollyanna (Brycen Ritchie), D’Artagnan & The Three Musketeers (C. J. Cyrus, Draven Copeland, Braxxton Sommers, Tanner White), Hercules (Tripp Keeton), and more.
The rest of the cast includes Emily Cyrus, Corbin Fram, Eva Rogers, Boone Sommers, and Wyatt Keeton.
Quintin Rhodes, a student at Gresham Middle, serves as the show’s stage manager. Wheeler Moon, a junior at West High, is the show’s scenery & lighting designer. Bethany Moon, a junior at West High, will provide the costumes. Sean Sloas will perform the duties of Production Manager. KCT Producing Director Zack Allen is the show’s director. KCT is East Tennessee’s leading producer of stage plays for children.
The show is presented in partnership with The Ritchie Campany and is sponsored by The Comcast Foundation, Clayton Family Foundation, Home Federal Bank, the City of Knoxville, and Lusidmedia. Assistance was also provided by Bandit Lites and Prestige Cleaners.