Really Rosie
Teacher's Guide

The University of Kansas Theatre for Young People presents
Really Rosie

Book and Lyrics by Maurice Sendak
Music by Carole King

Crafton-Preyer Theatre, Murphy Hall

School Performances

1:00 p.m. February 17, 19, 20, 23, 2004 Lawrence schools
1:00 p.m. February 18, 2004 County schools

Tickets for school matinees are $2.50
(Complimentary tickets for teachers and students on free/reduced lunch programs)

Public Performances

7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 21, 2004
Sunday, February 22, 2004 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $3 for K-12 students, $6 for adults, and $5 for senior citizens

Call Murphy Hall Box Office 864-3982, 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Most appreciated by families and children ages five and up.

Children with hearing difficulties may use special hearing devices in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre (provided by Friends Of the Theatre). Teachers should make special arrangements in advance with Erika Crane (864-5576) or the Murphy Hall Box Office (864-3982).

Preview for Teachers and Parents

7:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 10
Crafton-Preyer Theatre

Parents, teachers, librarians, and other school staff are invited to attend the final run-through rehearsal of Really Rosie in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall. The purpose of this preview is to acquaint you with the play and its final, actor-rehearsal stage before finished scenery, costumes, lights, and sound are added during technical week--so you may prepare students in advance of their attendance the following week. The rehearsal is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. and to run nonstop until approximately 8:00 p.m. We encourage you to ask questions and to discuss the play and its performance techniques with us. Lawrence teachers may obtain In-Service Points through Ann Bruemmer, Arts and Humanities Coordinator.

Drama Workshops

Actors from Really Rosie and Jeanne Klein will be available to visit elementary classrooms who have attended this production. A free, one hour (or less) drama workshop with actors is intended to extend the play's themes, to encourage students to role-play analogous situations, and to answer questions about this production and theatre. To take advantage of this service-learning opportunity, contact Erika Crane, TYP assistant, or Jeanne Klein (864-5576) to schedule a classroom visit.


Really Rosie was conceived in 1975 when Maurice Sendak combined two of his books, The Sign on Rosie's Door (1960) and The Nutshell Library (1962), and invited Carole King to put his lyrics to music for a 27-minute animated film which aired on CBS in 1975. In 1980, he adapted this work for the stage Off-Broadway and revived this one-hour musical in 1993 for his new children's theatre company, The Night Kitchen, co-founded with Arthur Yorinks in New York.

The Story of the Musical Play
(Musical Numbers)

It's a hot summer day in July on Avenue P, and children in the neighborhood are bored, looking for something to do outside. Rosie imagines herself as an incredibly talented star and decides to stage a musical movie about her life "to find the real me." But her mother wants her to watch her little sister, Chicken Soup, who hides herself in a box. Rosie hates Such Sufferin' and sings about her Simple, Humble Neighborhood where her life began. To get her friends, the Nutshell Kids, to act out her stories, she names her movie, Did You Hear What Happened to Chicken Soup? and tells them, "It's the story of my struggle to find joy at the top [of stardom] by overcoming the untimely and mostly ghastly disappearance of my poor, little sister, Chicken Soup."

Now that the kids are hooked into playing with her, Rosie begins screen tests for everyone. Alligator sings Alligators All Around about the alphabet. Johnny counts the visitors who come to call at his house forwards and backwards in One Was Johnny. Pierre, who doesn’t care what happened to Chicken Soup, sings a cautionary tale about learning to care after a lion eats him. When the kids start fighting over casting, Rosie tries to calm down their Screaming and Yelling, but a thunderstorm forces everyone to move downstairs into the cellar. Everyone still wonders what happened to Chicken Soup, so Rosie pretends that she died from choking on a bone in The Ballad of Chicken Soup. Kathy wants to stop playing Rosie secretary and go home, so Rosie lets her be a coming attraction by singing The Awful Truth as Mrs. Dracula.
When their mothers start calling for them, each kid imagines his or her dreams Very Far Away from their ordinary lives, and they quickly act out Rosie silent movie. To stop everyone from going home just yet, Rosie explains how they still need to show the producer the movie's big finale number by acting out every month of the year. With their eyes closed, she gets everyone to imagine the producer inviting them to make her movie. But it five o’clock and everyone goes home, leaving Rosie all alone to dream of stardom in her big number, Avenue P as it ought to be.

Now that everyone's gone, Rosie lifts the box that Chicken Soup has been hiding in all along. She invites her little sister to play January in her big finale number, Chicken Soup with Rice, and each of the Nutshell Kids comes back to play their parts. Rosie has succeeded in defeating summer boredom by entertaining herself and her friends through her wonderful imagination and dramatic play.

Curricular Connections

Read Maurice Sendak's books and study the pictures:

The Sign on Rosie Door. NY: Harper & Row, 1960; reissued, 2002. Rosie invites her neighborhood friends to stage a movie about her life.
Write a movie about your life in your Simple, Humble Neighborhood. Who are the characters? Which friends would play which parts in your movie? What would be the title of your movie?
The Nutshell Library. NY: Harper Collins, 1962. Each book is a musical number in the play:
Alligators All Around: An Alphabet
Write a different alphabet poem using nouns and verbs for each letter of the alphabet.
One Was Johnny: A Counting Book
Make up a story about 10 things that happen to you in sequence forwards and backwards.
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in five chapters and a prologue
Tell another story about what happens to someone when s/he doesn't care.
Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months
Make up a poem or song about what happens to your favorite food each month of the year.
Maurice Sendak Really Rosie starring the Nutshell Kids. NY: Harper & Row, 1975.
Learn some of the songs included in the musical scores in this book.

Watch the video and compare it with the play
Really Rosie. Weston, CT: Children Circle, Weston Wood's Studios, 1993.
What feelings do you get from animated characters? How do those feelings change when you watch a similar story with live actors?

Read other theatrical books about dramatic playing by Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are. NY: Harper & Row, 1963. [Winner of 1964 Caldecott Award]
Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life. NY: Harper & Row, 1967.
In the Night Kitchen. NY: Harper & Row, 1970.
Brundibar with Tony Kushner. NY: Michael DiCapua Books, 2003. (Czech opera)

Listen to Carole King's songs and music
Really Rosie. NY: Colgems-EMI Music, 1975.
How does each song make you feel? Which songs do you remember best? Why?

Other resources
Cech, John. Angels and Wild Things: The Archetypal Poetics of Maurice Sendak. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State UP, 1995.
Lanes, Selma G. The Art of Maurice Sendak. NY: Abradale Press/Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1984.
Powers, Bill. Behind the Scenes of a Broadway Musical. NY: Harper & Row, 1983.
Sendak, Maurice. Caldecott & Co.: Notes on Books & Pictures. NY: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux,1988.

Visit to see pictures of designs

Discuss recurring themes in Sendak books

Rosie, the prototypical Child

The Rosie character is based on a real life 10-year-old girl whom Sendak studied in 1948. He was captivated by her extraordinary ability to engage her audience through her powerful, creative imagination as a theatrical artist. In 40 sketchbooks, he recorded her dramas, dialogue, physical attitudes, and costumes. She became the prototypical child and "essential Rosieness" of all his heroes in his subsequent books. Later, he summarized her thematic essence:
[Rosie] attempts, thru fantasy - to override reality - or, rather, to impose on reality her genius for phantasy - to have things her way - to ignore failure + humiliation by refusing to admit having been involved - by putting a mask on reality - she purposefully disguises "the facts" - but the facts peep thru + throw her - she shrugs it off - the problem for her is finding a better mask - not seeing or accepting the facts. (in Cech, pp. 64-65)

Coping with Reality . . .
Sendak explores how children cope with boredom, their personal inadequacies, and the dark realities of their lives by fantasizing alternative worlds. Discuss these realities:
• What makes you feel lonely, lost, and sad? What can you do about it?
• How do you feel when family members scream and yell? What can you do about it?
• What do you do when you are bored with nothing to do and can’t leave your neighborhood? How do you entertain yourself?
• How do you escape from having to babysit your siblings?
• How do you escape from nagging parents when they bully you?
• What can you do when your parents won’t let you do something (e.g., playing with fireworks)?
• What can you say when your friends say mean things about you?
• What are you waiting to have happen in your life?

. . . through the Fantasy of Dramatic Play
Many of Sendak characters, like Max, Jennie, and Mickey, use dramatic play to act out their dreams, nightmares, hopes, and wishes. Through drama, he animates their inner lives and validates children own experiences from their perspectives. Through fantasy, his child characters create other magical characters in their imaginations. By the end of their fantastic journeys, these once vulnerable children are now empowered and self-confident artists.
• How do you find yourself--the real You? How can you express Your True Self artistically?
• Describe your personality. How can you use it to make people see things your way?
• Whom do you imagine yourself to be? What costumes and props can you use to transform yourself into a different personality? What games can you invent with household objects?
• How can you keep your friends playing with you? What secrets could you tell your friends?
• Imagine a Magic Person (like Rosie Producer) who comes to find and visit you.
What would this person say and do?

Windows and Proscenium Arches
Windows figure repeatedly in Sendak books as frames that separate the real world of a child's bedroom or neighborhood from the fantasy realm of an imaginative world outside.
• Find windows in Sendak books. What's real inside? What make-believe outside?
• Explain how the proscenium arch of a stage is also a window frame through which audiences see into theatrical worlds. Study the proscenium arches and staged windows that Sendak has drawn on the box of The Nutshell Library.
• How can books and theatre help you grow from an acorn into a strong, mighty oak tree?

Acting Out Dreams and Nightmares
• If you could go Very Far Away, where would it be? What would you do Outside Over There?
• Act out your dreams of who you want to be and where you would go with your classmates.
• Pantomime some pictures in Alligators All Around.
When does the Alligator child act like a brat? How do the parents act like children?
• Flip the pictures in One Was Johnny to see a "silent movie" of Johnny's life.
Pantomime something you like to do alone by yourself.

Eating Nourishing Food and being Eaten Up
Sendak writes “the business of eating is such an immensely important part of life for a child. The Grimms' tales are full of things being eaten and then disgorged. It an image that constantly appeals to me, and to most children, too." (in Lanes, 239)
• What makes Chicken Soup with Rice nourishing? What other foods nourish you all year long?
• Explain the metaphor to "devour" a book. Why are the Nutshell books "good enough to eat"?
How do books nourish your mind?
• Discuss the moral of Pierre. Why is it important to care?
What do your parents do when you are in a foul mood? How do they care for you?
What emotions "consume" Pierre? Why does the Lion eat Pierre?

Movie or Theatre Vocabulary that Rosie uses:
director - a person who helps actors play their characters
producer - a person who hires everyone to make a movie or play
star - a famous or popular actor who shines brightly on film
leading man or woman - the biggest acting parts in a movie or play
bit player - the smallest acting part in a movie or play
cast - (n.) all the actors in a movie or play; (v.) to decide which actors will play which parts
screen test - a test in front of a movie screen to see if an actor would be good for a part
talent scout - a person who looks for talented actors to be in movies
company - everyone involved in making a movie or play
rehearse - practice parts for a movie or play
"Roll 'em! Lights! Camera! Action!" - What a director calls out to tell everybody to turn on the lights, start the camera film rolling, and cue the actors to start acting
number - another word for a song and dance finale - the grand ending or finish to a show
extravaganza - a spectacular event coming attraction - advertising for another movie

We'd love to hear your ideas about this production. Please make copies for students and return to Jeanne Klein, KU Theatre for Young People, 1530 Naismith Drive, Lawrence, KS 66045.

Play Review of Really Rosie

Reviewed by (name optional) _________________________________

School ____________________ Grade ____________________

1. During the play, I imagined or felt:

2. During the play, I felt like (character name) when:


3. At the end of the play, Rosie or the Nutshell Kids learned (a main idea):


4. The thing I liked best about the production was:


5. The thing I liked least about the production was:




Teachers Guide written by Jeanne Klein