The Mom here!  You most likely know the story of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, about the little but important lighthouse who ends up feeling not so important once that enormous gray bridge (based on the George Washington Bridge) is built right in front of him…until he realizes that no matter his size, he really is necessary!  Well, now, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the publication of this timeless New York City story, there is a fresh new musical adaptation of it by the super talented Jessica Ann Carp, who has added some new touches but kept the same very important lessons – every one of us has a purpose and an importance in life, no matter who we are, where we come from, or how small we are.  Yes, this is something we need to teach our children…but we also need to be reminded of it ourselves, don’t we?  I know I sure do!  And I guarantee you will be happily humming the show’s tunes long after you go – especially the Tug’s theme!

You’ve got to see (and hear!) it for yourself! The show’s next performance will be at the Little Red Lighthouse Festival on Saturday October 7th at the site of the Little Red Lighthouse by the NYC foot of the George Washington Bridge (how cool is that?) from 12:15pm-1pm with a presentation of the making of the musical and performances of selections from the show.   The New-York Historical Society first hosted this amazing show back in May, and it will be back there, so stay tuned for that. Here’s more info on the FREE event in October:

This is truly a show for all ages!  We did not expect to be so entranced and moved by a children’s story and I was shocked to see two year olds sit so still and enraptured for the entire 45 minute show.  It is really charming and even though the book is 75 years old, its lesson is timeless and this performance is perfect for today’s audience. 
Director and projection designer Brian Freeland really brought the book to life by having projections from the book’s beautiful illustrations behind the action of the performers who people truly believed were the various characters, and we loved the costumes!  The Little Red Lighthouse wears vintage red sport coat and pants, the Great Gray Bridge wears a sparkly silver dress.  The show starts with Brian Childers (who plays the Man who is the Lighthouse’s Caretaker and the narrator) saying, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift and Lynd Ward”  It ends with an encore where he explains that good books usually have good lessons and that this book is no exception.  The characters then encourage the audience that they too  — everybody has a place and a chance to shine — the last words are “You can shine!”  Everyone leaves inspired and happy, and you and your kids will, too! 

Brian Childers as the Man (the Lighthouse’s Caretaker), Lochlin the Cargoman
William Mulligan as the Little Red Lighthouse
Stephen Velasquez as the Fat Black Tug, Bridge Builder, Boy Follower
Kimberly Faye Greenberg as the Slender Canoe, Bridge Builder, Boy Follower
John Wascavage  as the Big Steamer, Bridge Builder, Boy Ringleader
Jessica Ann Carp as the Great Gray Bridge
Brian Freeland —  Director and Projection Designer
Alex Ratner — Music Director
Andy Evan Cohen — Stage Manager                                                           
Jessica Ann Carp — Book/Score/Lyrics & Arrangements
Patrick Sulken —  Music Supervisor & Arrangements

Hildegarde H. Swift & Lynd Ward — Book & Lyrics

We sent Kid Reporter Humbi to The New-York Historical Society to check out this show (it’s one of his favorite books!).  Of course, he loved it and so did his whole family! (I told you, you’re NEVER too old for this story!) Here’s his interview with Jessica Ann Carp:
Why did you decide to turn this book into a play?
I can see the George Washington Bridge from my bedroom window and a few years ago, my friend Meg Carson took me to the annual Little Red Lighthouse Festival.  I loved the message of the book and felt rather inspired actually being able to climb the stairs of the Little Red Lighthouse and look out at the boats on the Hudson River.  Then about three years ago, as I sat noodling around at the piano, a song came to me that contained text from the book as the lyrics.  “Each to his own place little brother.  Quick, let your light shine again.”
This story needed to be told and I felt as though it had chosen me to tell it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?
While writing can be fun, it can also be challenging.  Even more challenging than sitting in my apartment and writing a show though is getting that show to exist in front of an audience.  It requires finding the right people to help develop, direct, and produce the show. 

What is a catwalk?
A catwalk is a walkway that is usually outside.  The George Washington Bridge (the Great Gray Bridge) has one that you can walk or bike over.

Why did you change the wreck of the fat black tug?
My goal in adapting the book into a musical was to hold true to the book whenever possible.  For the most part, this meant adding scenes and filling in information, but not changing information.  In fact, the only thing that I changed was the wreck of the Fat Black Tug.  Originally, I did have the Tug crash as he does in the book.  In the developmental readings, audiences felt that the death of the Tug was very sad and not necessary to the rest of the plot.  While I agreed, I felt strongly that if I kept the Tug alive, it would have to be with very good reason.  One of my dearest friends, author Jill Santopolo, attended one of the readings and suggested that if the Tug was rescued at the last minute it would add a greater urgency to the Man finding his keys and getting to the Lighthouse in time.  As I worked with that idea, the momentum toward the end of the show began to build.  I loved seeing that all come to life!  It also gave the boys an opportunity to have a greater part (and perhaps for their antics to be understood and hopefully learned from!) and to shed more light on the Man’s days fighting in World War I.  Also with this change, the Lighthouse, though much smaller than the Bridge, is the only one able to save the Tug.  I think this gives even more strength to the lesson that everyone has an important place.

Remember – “Each to his own place!”
For more information: