An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein

By Shel Silverstein

Directed by Sara Hartley

Welcome to the darkly comic world of Shel Silverstein, where nothing is as it seems and where the most innocent conversation can turn menacingly twisted in an instant. The ten imaginative plays in this collection range widely in content, but the style is unmistakable. It's a rollicking evening at the theatre - without the kids. 

Performances: Oct 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, & 28 at 7:30 p.m.
                                 Oct 15 & 22 at 2:00 p.m.

Cast List

Josh Thomas - Harvey/Jimbo/George 
Tish Chase - Sylvia/Auctioneer/Jen
Donna Kennis - Celia/Annie/Snooky/Lucy/Merilee
John Klapko - Irwin/Sherwin/Gibby/Pete
Kristen Stewart - Lisa/Marianne/Sherilee
Eldon Horner - Daddy/Bender/Blind Willie
Dan Mello - Barney

Story from the Record Eagle by Phil Murphy

Kids' books are not just child's play
Ever since I studied it in college, I have had a fascination with what we fondly referred to as “kiddie lit.”
Especially the literature of Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein. Their work came to the world’s attention through the 1960s and ‘70s, and had a certain bite to it that I was drawn to. I find it fascinating that each man also wrote for adults, and that work was particularly dark and even quite edgy.
This dark tradition dates back easily the the Grimm brothers, and is seen in the works of Lewis Carroll, JM Barrie and Dr. Seuss. Anyone who does read these cherished authors in depth and learns of their lives is likely to find the dichotomy between the two quite striking. None more so than Shel Silverstein.
Silverstein didn’t set out to be a children’s book author. In his own words he said, “When I was a kid ... I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls. But I couldn’t play ball, I couldn’t dance ... so I started to draw and write.”
He had much difficulty getting “The Giving Tree” published. It was deemed too adult, too sad. It was finally published to growing critical acclaim from an original run of 7,000 books to now many millions in nearly 50 different languages.
His children’s books were just part of his creative output over many years. He worked with Hugh Hefner and Playboy Enterprises as a cartoonist. He also played the guitar and wrote music. Notable among his works was “A Boy Named Sue,” which he wrote for Johnny Cash, and “The Cover of Rolling Stone” for Dr. Hook. He was also a playwright, which is why I write of him today.
In the 1980s Silverstein wrote a number of pieces for the theater. An accomplished playwright he is known for “The Lady or the Tiger” and “The Devil and Billy Markham,” among other works, some of which you will see at the Old Town Playhouse. He also wrote a play included in a New York production of “Oh, Hell! “ at Lincoln Center, and later collaborated with Davis Mamet on the screenplay for “Things Change.”
In October, Old Town Playhouse opens its 2017-18 Studio Theatre @ the Depot season with the wacky, original and, yes, edgy production “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein.” A series of 10 short works that has more in common with his doggerel and writings for Playboy than for the tween set. The emphasis being on adult. This ain’t “The Giving Tree.”
You’ve been warned. But I encourage you not to run away, as this is an engaging and fun evening of theatrical shorts.
As a short addendum, join Jill Anton and Rodney Woodring on Oct. 20 as they dance for OTP at this fall’s most fashionable event Swingshift and the Stars!
I will leave you with Silverstein’s “Invitation” from “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” See you on the boards!
by Shel Silverstein
“If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!”
Phil Murphy is the executive director for the Old Town Playhouse. Find out more at

Old Town Playhouse

Main Stage Theatre
148 E. Eighth Street
at the corner of
Cass & East 8th St.

OTP Studio Theatre
620 Railroad Place
at the corner of
East 8th and Woodmere