Adapted from the book by William Steig
Book, Music & Lyrics by Joan Cushing
Commissioned by: Adventure Theatre, Glen Echo, MD
World Premiere: Adventure Theatre, January 18 – February 23, 2003
Representation BY: The Susan Gurman Agency

Synopsis  |   Production History  |   Production Photos  |   Song Samples  |   Quotes  |   REVIEWS
What the critics are saying:
"Irene braves the cold for a sparkling debut! ... The story is simplicity itself, the characters are wonderful, the music way above average for a children’s musical, with lyrics that often have their tongue firmly in cheek. The ballad of the Night is especially memorable ... This musical works."
  – The Montgomery County Sentinel: Four stars ****
"Considering the limited plot, it is amazing how it holds your attention and moves you along throughout. Despite the fairy tale atmosphere, Irene makes it through not by magic but simply by not giving up. It makes for a very simple journey and at the same time something far more than just a girl delivering a dress ... It is a perfect winter musical."
  – The Montgomery County Sentinel
"The creator of the children’s musical, Miss Nelson is Missing!, has done it again. Adapted from the book by William Steig, this show is fine entertainment for little ones as well as pre-teens. Fairy-tale costumes full of color and sparkle, beautifully painted backdrops, strings of lights overhead, and plenty of visual dazzle greeted the small-fry audience. Add lively choreography and a story that lends itself to physical comedy, and the excellent vocal harmonies in Cushing’s melodic score ... Director James Larson clearly knows how to keep things moving ... Brave Irene charms."
  – The Omaha World Herald
"Adventure Theatre’s world premiere production of Brave Irene has a catchy score by Joan Cushing, fanciful costumes by Katie Touart, and a winning perfiormace by Danielle Schulkin as Irene. Also excellent are Lori Boyd as Irene’s mother, and Annette Wasno as the Duchess. A supporting cast of four plays all the remaining roles. Each has their strong moments, particularly Stasia Vinnedge as The Night. Best of all, as we left the theatre, it was snowing!"
  – Metro Connection/WAMU Radio
"Back for the second year in a row, the CTC (Calif. Theatre Center) production of Brave Irene features a terrific cast, a lush, comic and melodic score, and a touching story beautifully staged. Three actors portray the elements Irene encounters on her journey — the wind, the cold, and the night. Each has a solo in a different musical style, from a jazzy blues number performed by Mr. Cool to a beautiful and haunting ballad sung by the Mistress of the Night. The eclectic score features lovely harmonies and witty lyrics guaranteed to please all audiences. Cushing also wrote one of CTC’s biggest hits, Miss Nelson Is Missing! The company will be taking both of these crowd-pleasing shows on extensive tours of the West Coast."
  – CTC Press Release

"Manhattan Children's Theatre's Brave Irene is a beautifully realized production that chills your spine and melts your heart ... Joan Cushing's upbeat musical lyrics give the play the colorful touch it needs to comfort children as Irene's situation worsens. At the same time, adults ... are likely to appreciate the complexity of her obstacles ... Children will certainly see a heroine and kindred spirit in young Irene, a small girl who, when confronted by a large, cold world, fights against the odds to prove ... that one does not need to be big in order to be brave."
  – (What's on off-off Broadway)

"Generally we would not cover children’s theater. However, we will not ignore extremely high quality productions which have children as a target audience. We saw an absolutely delightful production of Brave Irene at Adventure Theatre ... and look forward to Cushing’s next project, a musical version of Junie B. Jones to open the new Imagination Stage facility this summer."
  – Washington Theater Review

"I have seen many many wonderful productions at Adventure Theatre for years, but honestly, this one is the best. The casting and talent were superb, especially the lead, and the music was absolutely hauntingly beautiful. It’s been quite a while since I experienced something that exquisite and I commend you all."
  – Priscilla Kneisley, Parent


"Although Irene inhabits a kind of fairy-tale landscape, it has no supernatural villains:  just the cold, the wind and the dark... who follow Irene, confuse her and, at times, taunt her like bullies.  They also demonstrate Ms. Cushing's versatility as a composer.  While the Night's siren call is an operatic ballad, the Cold's signature is a piece of smoky jazz... Charming music, fine singing and a plucky heroine clearly headed for bigger things."
  – The New York Times

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