I caught up with Papa Bear as he navigated the Berenstain family down a sunny dirt road deep in bear country. Or, as some would say, on the interstate heading toward Oregon.
The Berenstain Bears, played by the Omaha Theatre Company, are on a national tour through the U.S. Their musical includes segments based on the popular illustrated books New Baby, The Messy Room, Get Stage Fright, The Truth and The Double Dare.
I ask Adam Slemon (Papa Bear) how he likes life on the road, which this month alone will take him to Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Nevada.
"I love performing for children because they're the most honest and most uninhibited audience," he says. "If they don't like something, they stop listening and start talking to the person next to them. When they're into it, they're laughing, talking, cheering, they're saying, "Get the bully.'"
Slemon adds that throughout the tour, he has seen a wide variety of kids. In New Mexico, Spanish-speaking children enjoyed the show as their teachers translated it for them. In St. Louis, parochial school children proved a tough audience, as they already had been taught to sit quietly in their seats during theater performances.
The Omaha Theatre Company, one of the nation's longest-running theaters dedicated to young people, doesn't just perform for children; the theater company also provides them with workshops.
"It's not just to help kids get auditions, or get famous," says road manager Michael Wilhelm. "It opens up huge avenues to become better communicators and to become more self-confident. Not every kid wants to play football, basketball or baseball. It allows some kids that outlet."
So remember your ticket won't just go toward
Papa Bear's gas money.
Berenstain Bears on Stage
Pikes Peak Center,
190 S. Cascade Ave.
Tuesday, April 10, 7 p.m.; lobby opens at 6 p.m. for crafts
Tickets: $8-$15; call
520-SHOW (7469) or visit