The History of Center Stage Productions
Center Stage Productions was founded in 1988 by Tobin James Mueller and Kim Vanderhyden to provide quality educational musicals to primary and secondary students. In order to test these new shows, they subsequently found the CenterStage Children’s Theatre Troupe which quickly grew into a separate successful entity unto itself. Providing students a platform for commentary on issues that concern them, the Troupe gained renown with their talent, commitment and unique product. Mr. Mueller writes and produces all of the group’s material. His educational and issue oriented musicals are performed by young people ages 6 to 18. CenterStage came to national attention in 1992 when their production of “To Save the Planet” was invited to perform at the United Nations in New York City for delegates to the Earth Summit. Since then, they have performed at the 1992 World Congress on the Environment in Toronto, the 1992 UNICEF International Children's Conference, the founding of the nation’s first Children’s Forest in Los Angeles, California, the 1993 National Environmental Youth Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, the 1993 United Nations’ Global Youth Forum in Boulder, Colorado, and the 1994 Global Youth Forum in Washington, D.C. “To Save the Planet” has become such a popular title, second and third touring casts have been formed.

In 1994, the CenterStage Children's Theatre Troupe was awarded the United Nations’ 1994 Global 500 Award for their “outstanding environmental achievements” in educating and inspiring young people around the world. The Troupe traveled to London, England, to receive the award during the International World Environment Day Ceremonies in June. After being inducted into the Global 500 Forum, they sang their environmental anthem, “We Are the Ones”, for U.N. laureates and British dignitaries, then embarked on a train tour of England in which they performed their original musical, “To Save the Planet”, for school children in the Yorkshire Dales.

The Global 500 Roll of Honor was established by the United Nations in 1987 to serve as a tribute to the success of individuals working on the front lines of environmental action. Previous winners include Jacques Cousteau, Robert Redford, and Kathryn Fuller (World Wildlife Fund). In awarding CenterStage this honor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, executive director of the United Nations Environmental Programme, cited the group’s “ongoing activities promoting environmental awareness”, namely, the touring of their original musicals and their work with children, educators and community groups at local, national and international gatherings.

Meanwhile, the spin-off casts of CenterStage-West continued theexpanded on the Troupe’s work. Under the direction of Lyn Miller Mosurinjohn, they received the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s “Environmental Excellence Award” and the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Educator’s “Earthguard Award” for their continuing work. Altogether, CenterStagetour troupes have performed “To Save the Planet” 140 times to over 60,000 people. In addition, over 80 schools in the USA have put on the show themselves, plus schools in Lima, Peru; Taipei, Taiwan; Ontario; and Mexico City.

CenterStage has also been named official ambassadors of the Children’s Alliance for Protection of the Environment (CAPE). CAPE’s international theme song, “We Are the Ones”, was written by Mr. Mueller and first performed by CenterStage at the 1993 Global Youth Forum to a standing ovation of 1,800 kids from around the world. As ambassadors, they help organize workshops and join in local environmental activities.

CenterStage Children's Theatre Troupe has toured their repertoire to schools, community theatres, educational conventions, and environmental forums, and they have performed on nine recordings as studio singers. The original cast was featured twice by PBS-Wisconsin; most recently on the kids’ news magazine, “Get Real”, in April 1994, and, earlier, in May, 1991, on "Prime Time Wisconsin." “To Save the Planet” has been videotaped by White Wolf out of Atlanta and is currently in production for television and video release. The American Library Association's Booklist reviewed the cast album of To Save the Planet with glowing words: "a thoroughly professional, polished performance." As Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson put it, "To Save the Planet is a shining example of the type of work that must be done today to ensure our happiness and livelihood tomorrow."

Following the success of "To Save the Planet" in New York City, Mr Mueller adapted the Center Stage title “Robin Hood and the Free People of the Forest” for the off-broadway stage in 1994. Under the title “Freedom’s First Light”, it had an extended run at the Thirteenth Street Reperatory Theatre. It’s success helped and expanded version of "Danger, Dinosaurs!” to open and run for over one year at the same theatre.

In 1996, and expanded version of “Frankenspell Superstar” was first performed in Manhattan. It ran for 10 months. The show was then completely rewritten under the title “Creature”. After 2 years of successful workshops at the John Houseman Theatre in Time Square and at the Willoughby Theatre on the upper west side, it has developed into a full two act rock opera that is currently being re-organized for a run on Broadway.

Mr. Mueller continues to write and produce new material, although most of it is now for adult audiences. He is still available for conultation regarding his children’s musicals by calling the Teacher Hotline at 1- 203-899-0319.

See his website at www.artsforge.com for more information on his current activities.

Email Tobin James Mueller.
Email Kim Vanderhyden.

Links:
www.ArtsForge.com
Tobin James Mueller's Artistic Bio
What Survives - a Jazz rendition of Creature music on CD
Tobin's Medieval Book of Riddles
Kim Vanderhyden at School Specialty - School Supplies
     

     
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