‘Big Nate, The Musical’ at Adventure Theatre MTC by Julia L. Exline

Adventure Theatre MTC presents the world premiere of Big Nate, The Musical, based on the comic strip and books by Lincoln Peirce, with Book by Jason Loewith, Lyrics by Christopher Youstra and Jason Loewith, and Music by Christopher Youstra. Michael Baron directs this fun-filled production, recommended for ages 5+.

From left to right:  Shayna Blass (Jenny), Tim Rogan as Artur David Little (Teddy), Sam Ludwig (Nate Wright), Joshua Dick (Francis), Angela Miller (Gina), Ayanna Hardy, and (Mrs. Godfrey). Photo by Bruce Douglas.
From left to right: Shayna Blass (Jenny), Tim Rogan (Artur), David Little (Teddy), Sam Ludwig (Nate Wright), Joshua Dick (Francis), Angela Miller (Gina), Ayanna Hardy (Mrs. Godfrey). Photo by Bruce Douglas.

Production elements were presented with quite a challenge with this project: to bring a 2-dimensional world to the stage realistically, while honoring its comic-strip roots. Set Designer Misha Kachman uses a rotating set; one side being a brightly colored classroom and the other, a garage-band set-up. A large screen is used in place of a chalkboard in the classroom, and projection bubbles commonly seen in a comic strip (like “Zing!”and “Bonk!”) are used throughout, accompanied by effects by Sound Designer Kenny Neal. Lighting Designer Jason Arnold uses color to highlight emotion, and since he is tracking the emotions of a preteen, the effect is such that a sensory-sensitive show is scheduled! Costumer Chelsey Schuller uses normal teacher/student clothing, but a nod to the comic world is seen throughout the show with cardboard-like add-ons, including sketched faces used as masks and angel wings attached to a character’s shoulders. The adaptation of the comic strip to the stage is both creative and respectful.

Nate Wright (Sam Ludwig) is a self-proclaimed artistic genius who is destined for greatness – and is also the mischievous “King of Detention.” He and his friends sing about his life in the lively introductory song “Big Nate.” The usual 6th grader, Nate has a couple of good friends and band mates Joshua Dick (Francis) and David Little (Teddy), a sworn nemesis (Angela Miller as the class kiss-up Gina), and a crush (Shayna Blass (Jenny). When the school has a “Battle of the Bands,” Nate is confident that his band “Enslave The Mollusk” has the competition in the bag…until he learns that if a student has twenty-five or more detentions, then they are disqualified…and Nate already has twenty-two. In the song, “From ‘F’ to ‘A'” his friends give him pointers on how to better his behavior. If that wasn’t enough of a worry, Nate discovers that Jenny has joined Gina’s rivalry band alongside the handsome and skilled Artur (Tim Rogan). Will Nate make it through a week without detentions?

Calvin and the Galvinators at the Battle of the Bands. Photo by Bruce Douglas.
Calvin and the Galvinators at the Battle of the Bands. Photo by Bruce Douglas.

The ensemble for this production is great! Sam Ludwig spends the majority of the show onstage front and center as an energetic preteen, and the stamina one must have to achieve this feat is admirable. Ayanna Hardy is hilarious as Mrs. Godfrey, Nate’s loathsome teacher who walks with a hulking lurch, making you nod in agreement when Nate refers to her as “Godzilla.” Tim Rogan shows range in a variety of roles, most noticeably delivering a broken Russian accent with skill as Artur. The actors work well together and are able to bounce off of each other easily, making it seem like they really are a genuine group of friends just having a good time.

With lively performances and catchy songs that the kids will love (“Love is a Four Letter Word” will be stuck in your head!) Big Nate, The Musical is a fun time for the entire family! Run and buy tickets!

Running Time: One hour and 15 minutes, without an intermission.

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Big Nate, The Musical plays through June 2nd, 2013 at Adventure Theatre MTC – 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo Park, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call 301.634.2270 or order them online.


  1. A fantastic show for all ages. An very talented cast in constant action. Outstanding music and orchestration filled the theater and blended the story line which leaves you humming as you leave the theater.


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