March 15, 2011
For Immediate Release
For more information contact
Karen Massman VanAsdale
(816) 474-6785 ext. 230
(816) 665-8181 (cell)
Ben Franklin’s Apprentice strikes
the Coterie Theatre stage April 4 - May 7
"I dare you, lightning, strike! I am not afraid."
Dazzling special effects highlight a tale of an American hero's struggle to tame heaven's own power —
electricity in Ben Franklin’s Apprentice, April 4 – May 7 at the Coterie Theatre, level 1 Crown Center Shops.
Ben Franklin’s Apprentice is the story of Franklin’s life long before the Declaration of Independence where
he is seen as a scientist obsessed with the mastery of "electrical fire" in the face of opposition from church and
family. When he rescues a wounded boy from a cruel apprenticeship, together they confront ignorance with
the power of their questioning minds.
Blending historical fiction with science, this thrilling play for families culminates on a stormy night with the
crack of thunder, a blinding light and an experiment that changed the world. Written by Laurie Brooks, an
award-winning playwright and young adult author, and directed by Kyle Hatley, associate artstic director at
the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.
“This is absolutely my kind of story: the relationship between science and religion and the passions that define
and divide them both,” said director Kyle Hatley. “Ben Franklin was always solving problems and he did so in
service to humanity rather than social or financial advancement of himself. There was a selflessness applied to
his science which is so uncommon.
Coterie Ben Franklin/ page 2
“We (the company) talk a great deal about showing the human side of Ben Franklin, of which there is plenty
to see. But his humor is key. There’s humor in his madness. He forgets things, he’s constantly moving from
one thought to the next, from one idea to the other, from one shelf to another shelf to collect this research item
or that one. It will be fun,” he said.
Another element will be the special effects used to project electricity in the theatre. “We’re really going to do
our best to make it seem like you’re really in a thunderstorm,” Hatley said.
Every Friday night after Ben Franklin’s Aprentice, there will be a free Something Fun experience: It might
be a comedy spoof by the Coterie’s teen troupe, a “Volts and Jolts” electricity demo by Science City Director
Jeff Rosenblatt, or a presentation by KMBC Chief Meteorologist Bryan Busby. The experience will change
Ben Franklin’s Apprentice is the second production in the Coterie’s Family Series, but will be most
appreciated by ages 8 and up. It is funded in part by the Missouri Arts Council (MAC) and the ArtsKC Fund.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
The veteran cast includes Theodore Swetz (Ben Franklin), Izzie Baldwin (Sally), Sam Cordes (John) Steven Eubank
(William), Ron Megee (Spencer), Matthew Rapport (Rickersley), and Shelley Wyche (Debbie).
The artistic and production company includes Kyle Hatley (director), Kerith Parashak (set designer), SeifAllah
Ristobal (projection designer), Ron Megee (properties), Georgianna Londre (costume designer), Art Kent (lighting
designer), David Kiehl (sound designer), Eryn Preston (composer), Amy Abels Owen (stage manager), Scott Hobart
(technical director), Anna Comiskey (production assistant) and Rachel Shelby (deck manager).
The Coterie Theatre, now in its 32nd Season and named “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young Audiences in the
U.S.” by TIME magazine, is located on level one of Crown Center Shops in Kansas City, Mo. Ben Franklin’s
Apprentice performs April 4- May 7, Tuesdays through Sundays.
Coterie Ben Franklin/ page 3
Opening Night is Friday April 8 and audiences are invited to a free post-performance reception with director
and cast members. Free question and answer sessions about the show and “how it’s done” will take place after
the 2 p.m. performances April 16 and 17. In addition, links to the new Coterie Viewtube series for Ben
Franklin’s Apprentice featuring backstage interviews with cast and designers will be posted on the Coterie
website three weeks prior to the first performance.
Individual Tickets are $10 for all children, students and seniors age 60 and up; $15 for adults; and $9 for Season
Discount Deal holders. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Tickets may be purchased online at
www.coterietheatre.org or by calling the Coterie box office (816) 474-6552 from 10 a.m. to 4 p. m. Monday
through Friday. TARGET Saturdays: Free ticket with purchase and free book; restrictions apply; not available
April 8, Opening Night: Free post-performance reception with director and Company.
April 8, 15, 22, 28, May 6: Something Fun Friday Night! Enjoy a comedy spoof by the Coterie's teen
troupe, a "Volts and Jolts" electricity demo by Science City Director Jeff Rosenblatt, or a presentation by
KMBC Chief Meteorologist Bryan Busby. The experience will change each week.
April 16, 17, Q&A: Free post-performance Question and Answer sessions with the Company.
April 16, 23, 30, May 7: TARGET Saturdays: Free ticket with purchase; restrictions apply.
April 30: Interpreted performance in American Sign Language
# # #
NOTE: All student and professional reviewers and editors are invited along with one guest to attend
PRESS PERFORMANCES at 7 p.m. April 8. Contact Karen M. VanAsdale at
firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or to reserve a different performance.
Photos and poster artwork are available upon request.