History of Owen
In the spring of 2002, while watching my husband Ted change a tire in our driveway, I read a ticker on the CNN news channel that caught my eye. It said, 'Earthworms move more of the world's dirt than all of the farmers of the world combined.' I was stunned. I thought, the earthworm, really?
An earthworm can move more soil than all the equipment that farmers use to toil the earth? And as I thought about it, I became amazed. I could not believe that something so small, something that I rarely thought of could be so valuable, so impactful on my world today.
And then I thought about how often significant people or things get overlooked in our busy, technology-filled lives. That led me to wonder, how many times each of us, including myself, had felt unimportant and unnoticed by the world around us. It made me realize that even when we feel unnoticed, we could at the same time, the most important thing to someone else in our world. How we feel about ourselves, determines how we see the everything around us. And at that moment, the idea of telling this story about a young earthworm came to life!
In the summer of 2003, after I started working at an area performing arts center and shared my story of the earthworm with low self-esteem to my colleagues. I was encouraged to turn my book concept into a Children's Musical and was hired to produce it with 25 young actors (aged 5-7) that next summer. So, the story needed to be adapted for the stage, and I needed to find a musician who could compose the music for my songs. I wasn’t 100% sure it could happen.
I worked on the stage adaptation and truly loved how the characters were strengthening so much through the inclusion of dialogue, stage actions, and musical lyrics. Writing the lyrics was one thing, but I knew I was not capable of composing the melodies.
Luckily, as fate would have it, while in Cancun Mexico on a business trip with my husband, I met Jonathan Barnes. Through our conversation, I learned he was a musician on the side and had beautiful young children that he loved to write songs with and for. I told Jonathan of my need for a score to my lyrics, and he offered to read my story upon our return to the states. The night I returned home, I sent off my script with lyrics to Mr. Barnes. I realized I had nothing to offer in this collaboration and hoped he would be inspired enough by the story to want to lend his talents. AMAZINGLY he was, and by the next morning, I received the first measures of the Ordinary Song that Owen sings in the opening scene of the play. And with that, a beautiful partnership was born.
In the summer of 2004, The One and Only Owen had its world premiere! It performed to hundreds of enthusiastic audience members.
The show was staged again in 2005, and the Puppet show version of The One and Only Owen started touring to local elementary schools.
2006 - A sequel, Owen’s ALMOST Overnight Adventure, was created and again, Jonathan Barnes wrote the original score. Both shows were staged again that summer!
December 2006 - My son, Griffin, was born (so summer play production was on hold).
2007 to 2009 - The One and Only Owen Puppet show toured area schools.
2009 - The final staging with young actors of The One and Only Owen and Owen’s ALMOST Overnight Adventure.
2010 to 2014 - The One and Only Owen Puppet show toured area schools.
In those 9 years, The One and Only Owen was performed with children or as a Puppet show over 75 times, visiting nearly 30 schools (some every year) in 5 counties that surround Tampa Bay and reached over 30,000 students, teachers, and parents!