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"3... 2... 1... HIKE!" The Smedley Tornadoes Storm WST for Kids in MISS NELSON HAS A FIELD DAY! Now - June 11

April 24, 2016

PHILADELPHIA, PA: Walnut Street Theatre for Kids’ production of Miss Nelson Has a Field Day will have audiences cheering for the home team! This touchdown of a musical proves that a little determination and hard work always lead to victory. Assemble your favorite players and hustle down the field to Walnut Street Theatre for this family-friendly, hour-long musical. Watch the Horace B. Smedley Tornadoes transform into the best team ever LIVE on stage June 3rd through June 11th, 2016.

It's doom and gloom at the Horace B. Smedley School – the cafeteria ladies have lost their sparkle and Principal Blandsworth is hiding under his desk. Why? The Smedley Tornadoes haven't won a game or even scored a single point this season. They're the worst football team ever! The team seems hopeless... until Viola Swamp, the meanest substitute teacher in the whole wide world, shows up to whip them into shape! This game-winning musical will have kids cheering as they learn that all it takes to win is teamwork and determination! Go Tornadoes!

Walnut Street Theatre for Kids encourages families to read the stories together at home, then come to the theatre to experience them in a whole new way. WST for Kids takes great pride in sparking imagination, inspiring creativity and starting important conversations by linking literature and the arts.

Thousands of children attend WST for Kids performances every year, and for many, it is the first time they experience live theatre; something they’ll never forget. Miss Nelson Has a Field Day has a special student matinee performance on June 3. The Walnut invites school groups to come enjoy a show that will also help them make important connections between learning and live theatre.

The cruel and formidable Viola Swamp has been masterfully disguising, well, “substituting,” for the sweet, mild-tempered Miss Nelson for nearly 40 years. Author Harry G. Allard first created the character back in 1977. Miss Nelson is Missing, Allard’s first book, was voted one of the most memorable books of the century and Viola Swamp became one of the most notorious substitute teachers ever. From never-ending homework assignments to canceled story hours, Miss Swamp has disciplined the students in Room 207 for years. Scary as she may be, Swamp is remembered for helping students find their best selves.

Miss Nelson Has a Field Day was adapted for the stage by Joan Cushing, who wrote the book, music and lyrics. Cushing has adapted 15 popular children’s books into musicals, receiving over 400 productions and three national tours. Miss Nelson Has a Field Day made its world premiere in 2003 at the Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland prior to its national tour with the Omaha Theatre Company. In 2005, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day was a finalist at the National Children’s Theatre Festival. Critics have also praised Cushing for her work. The New York Times raved that her adaption of Miss Nelson Has a Field Day was “another tour de force,” and The Tribeca Tribune stated: “The music, penned by Joan Cushing, makes the play shine – from the sad refrains of a defeated team to the spirited beat of a team on the rise.”

Heidi Hayes is thrilled to be making her Walnut directorial debut. Hayes, who will also be performing in the Walnut’s upcoming production of Sister Act, is eager to play a different role, behind-the-scenes, noting: “I really enjoy acting, but directing is just so fascinating. You get to imagine the entire story, and then work with other artists (actors and designers) to tell that story. It’s also particularly special to me because I’ve actually played the role of Miss Nelson three different times, all here at the Walnut! So I am excited to work with a brilliant young actress (Sarah Biddle) and, together, breathe new life into the magnificent character that is Miss Nelson. This production will be heartfelt, fun and spectacular!” The Walnut welcomes back Mark Yurkanin (Zombie in Love, Freckleface Strawberry) as the Music and Vocal Director for this production.

From the classroom to the football field, Bridget Willingham makes her debut as Scenic Designer, drawing inspiration from the book’s colorful and youthful illustrations. Walnut Costume Apprentices Sarah Mitchell and Susan Benitez have constructed a wardrobe fit for peppy cheerleaders and student athletes on the road to greatness! Mitchell is especially excited for audiences to experience Miss Viola Swamp. “The goal was to create the Viola Swamp everyone remembers - one who is cringe-worthy and not to be messed with!” Two Walnut veterans, Sound Designer Mark Valenzuela (Freckleface Strawberry, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) and Lighting Designer J. Dominic Chacon (Peter and the Starcatcher, Freckleface Strawberry) complete the creative team.

In the roles of Miss Nelson and Viola Swamp is Sarah Biddle, who was last seen in Mary Poppins and Schoolhouse Rock, Jr. on the Walnut’s Mainstage. She is joined by Glenn Britton (Kenny), Richie Sklar (Patrick) and Jenna Pinchbeck (Lauren), who are all making their Walnut debuts. Jurä Davis (Blandsworth/Armstrong) and Amanda Jill Robinson (Cafeteria Lady/Dani) return to the Walnut, having most recently appeared side-by-side in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Miss Nelson Has a Field Day runs at the Walnut June 3 through June 11, 2016. Open captioning will be available for the Friday, June 3rd performance. For the first time ever, the Walnut will be hosting a sensory-friendly performance at 10:30am on June 8. The performance will be adapted for children on the autism spectrum. The media sponsors for Walnut Street Theatre for Kids are Courier Post and Mix 106.1. Tickets are only $14-$16 with group discounts available for groups of ten or more. Study guides are available for teachers and school groups on the Walnut’s website. For tickets and information, please call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets can also be purchased online at Ticketmaster or by visiting the Walnut’s website at