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Playhouse in the Park brings classic children's story 'The Snowy Day' to life on stage

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Posted at 10:39 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-13 09:36:50-05

CINCINNATI — To honor and celebrate Black History Month, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is offering a true treat for children young and old.

"The importance of 'The Snowy Day' is you get to experience Black joy," said Piper N. Davis. "You get to see a child experience his world in his own space and you get to see his day-to-day actions in his world that is humongous to him."

Davis is the cultural director for the Playhouse's adaptation of the classic Ezra Jack Keats children's book, which follows the day-to-day life of a young boy named Peter. When "The Snowy Day" was published in 1962, it was among the first children's books to depict the life of a Black character and his family.

"I was excited to be a part of it from the beginning . . . from costumes to casting to getting it onstage doing character development, watching the actors embody that character," Davis said.

She worked with director Daunielle Rasmussen and cast to bring playwright Jerome Hairston's adaption of Keats' "The Snowy Day and Other Stories" to life as a professionally filmed performance for Playhouse's virtual Off the Hill series.

That recording will stream for free on the Playhouse's website Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting Feb. 12 through the end of the month. Registration is required to receive a link to watch the stream online.

"We have experimented with how to take what is wonderful about our live outreach theater production and still provide them to families in a virtual format," Rasmussen said.

Off the Hill is normally a touring production that performs at community partner locations. Rasmussen said the coronavirus pandemic forced Playhouse to create virtual productions of the Off the Hill series this year.

"We're so thrilled to be able to bring to life 'The Snowy Day' and other stories by Ezra Jack Keats," she said of the virtual production.

Cast and directors wore masks, remained socially distanced and observed other safety protocols while filming the production, she added.

Davis said that even under the unique circumstances it took to create a live version of "The Snowy Day," people who watch the stream online will still feel transported by Peter's adventures. She said she knows she, along with the actors she worked with, experienced the magic of "The Snowy Day" while filming.

"Taking them back to their childhood so we could bring others to their childhood. That was what was really exciting about it," Davis said of working with the cast. "It is so important that we share the Black experiences that we have."

For more information about "The Snow Day and Other Stories," visit cincyplay.com.