The powers that be have chosen wisely. This year's book selection for the All Pikes Peak Reads series is The Arabian Nights, a book that harkens back to the 9th century. It's been adapted and added to so many times that it's almost a living text.
The basic story follows Queen Scheherezade's marriage to a cruel sultan who threatens to kill her -- every night for 1,001 nights. Yet she prevails, telling him a series of interlocking tales so compelling that he refrains from chopping off her head.
Many of Scheherezade's tales have become part of our literary vernacular, and some have come to be known primarily as children's stories. And it's a children's version that Manitou Art Theater will present as the first adaptation of The Arabian Nights by a local theater company.
MAT's production features a small cast and makes use of lots of fabric, tents and puppets. Those props will prove useful on an upcoming tour of local schools.
MAT director Jim Jackson laughs as he explains the concept. "We're trying to keep it accurate to the stories but informal, sort of a Bob Hope-meets-the-genie experience."
And what about the genie?
Jackson insists that MAT's version of "Aladdin," just one of Scheherezade's many tales, will not replicate Disney's version.
"There is a genie, but she's not blue, and she's on stilts. And I'm pretty sure she won't be doing any Robin Williams bits."
-- Bettina Swigger
The Arabian Nights
Manitou Art Theater, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m.
Tickets: $8, general admission; call 685-4729 or visit themat.org.