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The El Paso Scene - Holly Claus, The Princess of Forever (PDF file) - NEW

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The Business Journal of Phoenix - Article on Picture Book Productions, LLC

Jewish News of Greater Phoenix - "Pinocchio and Mounette" review

Goldfish Publishers - "A Walk in the Sky" review

Dale Wasserman - "A Walk in the Sky" review

Patio Playhouse - "Winnie the Pooh" musical stage production, promotional ad

Actor's Playhouse - "Winnie the Pooh" musical stage production, promotional ad

Mad Stage - "The Hobbit" musical stage production, promotional ad


Broadway Producer Joins SCC to Shake Up Theater

The Business Journal of Phoenix, by Stepahie Balzer

A composer and producer of Broadway plays is partnering with Scottsdale Community College to bring his latest creation -- what he calls an entirely new art form -- to the stage.

Allan Jay Friedman established a new company, Picture Book Productions, to bring upliftin one-person musicals to the stage in an economical and creative way. He combines the visual elements of film and the audio elements of theater. Live actors will play their parts in front of a fully animated or live background that is projected onto a screen of any size.

The outcome is an interactive one-person musical produced for a fraction of the cost of any existing musical. It is also one that can be easily and economically recreated in thousands of spaces, of almost any kind, simultaneously. Friedman said the art form was to theatre what Cirques du Soleil is to the circus.

"Our goal,” he said, “is to simultaneously clone productions in new spaces all over the the world."

Friedman is working with the theatre department at Scottsdale Community College to produce the first musical, Pinocchio and Mounette, a love story sequel to the traditional Pinocchio tale, with follow-up musicals to follow.

Friedman wrote the original story and music to the musical and co-wrote the libretto and lyrics with Bob Merrill, whose hit musicals include: Carnival and Funny Girl.

James O'Brien of the Scottsdale Community College theatre department is directing the musical.

Students are working on the technical side, which includes lighting, sound, musical reproduction and projections.

O'Brien said he likes this production for his students because they get practice with the screen and live presentation.

Friedman has an extensive background in theatre, film and television. He is a prolific writer-lyricist-composer, who has worked with some of the legendary writers of our time. He won an Emmy Award as producer and composer of a television special about President John F. Kennedy called The Young Man from Boston. He was also chosen by Senator Robert Kennedy to be the Producer of “The Thousand Days of JFK” television series.

His Broadway writing career began when he wrote the musical adaptation of the fairy tale Rapunzel, which was optioned by Roger L. Stevens, producer of Westside Story and the Founder of the Kennedy Center in Washinton, D.C.

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Picture-Book Stories Come to Life on Stage

LEISAH NAMM, Assistant Editor

Valley audiences will serve as a test market for a new theater experience in which picture books come to life.

"Pinocchio and Mounette," the first production by Picture Book Productions, created by Emmy Award-winning writer, composer and producer, Allan Jay Friedman, will be workshopped May 28-June 6 at Scottsdale Community College.

This new art form - a One-PersonPicture Book Musical - presents picture-book stories onstage with full, prerecorded orchestration. When the curtain rises, the audience sees a colorful stage-size opened picture book. Special lighting and effects make the characters come alive on the screen as the actor on the stage interacts with those on the creen. This new art form, Friedman calls, Picture Show Theater.

Friedman, a Los Angeles resident, decided to use Phoenix as a "home base" to launch the program because "it's fresh, the people are nice (and) it has an open and healthy environment in which to present new ideas and material.

"I think Phoenix is ready to explode, and it could be the cultural home for America if it's developed right, " he says. “A Picture Book Musical may be easily cloned in thousands of markets from here because of the way it will be packaged. It starts with an actual picture book containing the story and one DVD and one CD. The DVD contains the visuals. The CD provides the music the actors sing with, similar to karaoke. "All we need is a screen and a projector and a CD setup, and you can do entire operas and musicals," Friedman says.

After the show is perfected in Scottsdale, Friedman plans to take it to the kind of city that represents the kind of audience Friedman wants to attract.

“Each musical that we do will have a major star attached to it. We also plan to create and develop local talent in every city in which we go," he says. “Many will be used on the CD in back of the book.

Each star will receive a copy of the picture book, ‘so we can bring in a star to sing and to perform with virtually no rehearsal," he explains.

Friedman plans to hold future productions at venues in towns and cities around the world. He plans to give back a percentage of ticket sales to art and culture programs and other charities. A scholarship fund has been set up for the SCC production, which is under the direction of James O'Brien of SCC's Maricopa Institute for Arts & Entertainment Technology.

"Pinocchio and Mounette" is a musical love story that offers a new take on the children's story "Pinocchio." Friedman wrote the original story and the score and collaborated on the libretto and lyrics with Bob Merrill, whose hit Broadway musicals includes: "Carnival" and "Funny Girl."

Friedman's theatrical productions include "Winnie the Pooh," the only authorized musical of T.R.R. Tolkien's"The Hobbit," "The Emperor's New Clothes" in collaboration with fourteen time Academy Award Nominess, Paul Francis Webster, “A Walk In The Sky” in collaboration with Dale Wasserman (“Man of La Mancha” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest”) and “One Shining Moment” in collaboration with ten time Academy Award Nominess, Leslie Bricusse.

Friedman won an Emmy Award for the ABC television special "The Young Man from Boston." Past collaborators and partners include comedian-writer, Steve Allen, and actor-director, Gene Kelly.

Picture Book One-Person Musicals is the first subsidiary of Picture Book Productions. Other subsidiaries in development are Picture Book Seminars, hosted by stars featuring legends from their respective areas; Picture Book Biographies, about such noted figures such as JFK and Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock.

"I wanted to do something that I could do by myself, without the interference, headaches and absurd egos and ridiculous production and ticket prices of Hollywood and New York,” he said. “Something that could be done economically and with a one-time-only expence of creating the visual and audio tracks. Something that would look beautiful and be classy, magical and mystical."

Friedman concluded, "Everything we do is to inspire, entertain and educate. It is to create a Universal Spiritual Environment that brings everyon back together and inspires the dreams asleep in all of us.”

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El Paso Times Press Release


The Director of Theater Programs with the El Paso Community College District in El Paso, Texas, has successfully produced and directed the Spanish language premiere of Picture Book Productions and Allan Jay Friedman and Bob Merrill's original musical "Pinocchio & Mounette." These performances have culminated the Hispanic Month activities in the international city. Plans to tour the Picture Book Production to Spanish speaking countries and other cities in Texas as well as New Mexico are being finalized.

In addition to educational institutions, other arts organizations involved and in support of this project are Los Actores, bilingual theater company, and the Ysleta Hispanic Theater Project. The English version of this musical was performed in a tent at the El Paso Zoo with great success. Over 20,000 people attended over a three week period at an entrance fee of five dollars. Ten thousand books were sold at eighteen dollars a book. Most of the profit was given back to the school district's arts and cultural programs.

PBP plans to franchise a season of one-hundred productions to Producers in one hundred towns and cities around the world, either using the stars of the various countries or creating new ones. Both new and established talent will perform on PBP CD's. Museum Displays will be in museums, shopping centers and hotels in the places where the productions are performed, creating brand new artists.

From this, PBP will syndicate its Books and CD's and one-person musical in the over 10,000 available spaces around the country and the world.