Lauren Davis as “Mother” and Ileri Okikiolu as “Lisa” in Corduroy. Photo by Dan Norman

Barry Kornhauser’s latest Theatre for Young Audiences play, “Corduroy” is a winner of the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) 2019 Distinguished Play Award. The award will be presented to Kornhauser, the assistant director of Campus & Community Engagement at Millersville University, on Monday, August 5 at the Roundabout Theatre in New York City, during the AATE’s annual national conference.

Millersville’s award-winning playwright Barry Kornhauser

This is the third AATE Distinguished Play Award that Kornhauser has received and the first for an adaptation. The two other plays were original titles, “This Is Not A Pipe Dream” and “Balloonacy.”  This new work, Corduroy, based on Don Freeman’s beloved picture book of the same name, was commissioned and first produced in 2018 by The Children’s Company (CTC) in Minneapolis, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication.  CTC is the only Theatre for Young Audiences company ever awarded the Regional Theatre Tony Award.  Since this premiere, Corduroy thus far has been – or will be – produced by almost a dozen theaters across the country in such cities as Chicago, Denver, Omaha and Seattle. Kornhauser’s script is published by Plays For Young Audiences, and its General Manager Michelle Wright nominated it for the Distinguished Play Award.  In its notification letter, AATE’s Vice Chair Mitch Mattson said, “Your work and contribution to the field was emphatically and diligently outlined by nominator Michelle Wright. The AATE Awards Committee wholeheartedly agrees with the recommendation and wishes to congratulate you on this well-deserved award.”

Dean Holt as Corduroy in “Corduroy.” Photo by Dan Norman.

Kornhauser’s other national honors include The Children’s Theatre Foundation of America’s Medallion, the highest accolade in the Theatre for Young Audiences field and the AATE’s Chorpenning Cup honoring “a body of distinguished work by a nationally known writer of outstanding plays for children.” His youth theater program for at-risk teens and young adults and those living with disabilities, now headquartered at Millersville University, was honored at the White House as one of the nation’s top arts-education initiatives. Closer to home, Kornhauser was named the Artist of the Year at the 2017 Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards.

Some Corduroy review quotes:

“BEARly short of perfect. …Ebullient. …Corduroy is one of the CTC shows designed to appeal to very young audiences, and it’s a dandy one. …The production wrings laughs and pathos out of Corduroy’s and Lisa’s plights while also reminding us, in a way that never feels too take-your-medicine-it’s-good-for-you, that neither children nor parents are perfect. …Utterly delightful.” – StarTribune

“…If you’ve read the book as a child or to a child and are thinking that it can’t possibly have enough story to sustain a full-length play, well, you’re right. So Kornhauser delves more deeply into the unexplored home life of Lisa, the little girl who desperately wants to buy the bear. And what does Lisa do at home? She makes one comical mistake after another, clearly underscoring the idea that she and Corduroy are made for each other. But this is a subplot to the central action, which is Corduroy’s quest for the buttonand an overnight security guard’s attempt to crack the case of who’s sending various sections of the department store into chaotic disarray. … At times, the childish laughter turns to gasps of awe.”  – Pioneer Press

An absolute delight. …It will inevitably be a frequent guest at CTC and at children’s theaters around the nation. …Delicious fun. The three-year-olds sitting near me were having a ball, but so were my wife and I. …The sensibility is light and innocent, effusing good will and hope …Among the unmapped sound effects are the joyous laughs and squeals of the children in the audience, expressing their utter delight and astonishment at this feast of storytelling by means of words, movement, acting and design. …I will wager that you will leave Corduroy on stage with more laughs, broader grins, and a warmer heart than you have in a very long time.” – Talkin’ Broadway

“Leaves its audience delightfully impaired by extreme laughter. …My grandson was overwhelmed with laughter from the play’s antics. Even children and adults unfamiliar with the Corduroy story will be entertained. …A smooth and entertaining expansion of the short picture book into a two-act stage play.” – Twin Cities Arts Reader

“I didn’t have time to reflect on the differences [between the book and the stage adaptation] because I was laughing through the whole thing. …Even more important than my own enjoyment of this production was the fact that my 6-year-old loved it. When I say he LOVED it, I mean he stood jumping through the whole thing because he was cheering and laughing and rooting for Corduroy to find his button and for Lisa to win over her mother. On the bus ride home, he made plans to act out the whole show as a family. …I have been shy to bring the whole family to shows recently as I usually end up having to take one of the younger kids out. However, in hindsight, if I was only going to do one full family show this season, this should have been the one.” – Family Fun Twin Cities

“FABULOUS. …The delightful joy was infectious…and heartfelt sadness made me choke back tears at one point… Fun and captivating from beginning to end. It’s such a touching story about friendship. To me and my kids, the book is great, but the live production here at CTC is SO much better.”                                                                                                            – Twin Cities Frugal Mom Blog

“Corduroy celebrates live theater as an alchemy of craft and imagination.” – City Pages

“…It was hard to say who was more excited to be at the Chicago premiere of “Corduroy” – the tiniest theatergoers or their nostalgic parents. …The famous button-missing Corduroy has never looked more appealing. …Highly physical and wonderfully true to Freeman’s beloved pages, this gentle tale [is] perfect for literary lovers of all ages. In a world where childhood and its accompanying boundless imagination is all-too-fleeting, “Corduroy” extends an invitation to dwell in make-believe for as long as possible and also offers up the important lesson that every single person has value – regardless of their appearance. (Get ready to kiss your babies and rock ‘em a little bit longer tonight, parents. Consider this your friendly warning.)” – Chicago Parent Magazine



This article has 3 comments

  1. Well deserved my friend! I remember This is not a Pipe Dream premiere well! Such fun!

  2. Well deserved my friend! I remember “This Is Not a Pipe Dream” premiere well! What fun we had!

  3. Congratulations Barry!

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