Exclusive Interview with Jonathan Rockefeller, the Producer of The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Exclusive Interview with Jonathan Rockefeller, the Producer of The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The famous books of Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, have captivated the minds of kids and parents alike. Today, Saturday, March 19 at 4:30pm, a Spanish Language show will take place at the 47th Street Theatre (304 W 47th St.). JONATHAN ROCKEFELLER

Alma Emprendedora got an inside look at the production and sat down with the talented producer Jonathan Rockefeller and this is what he told us:

1- What have been the most rewarding and the most challenging thing that has happen to you during this production thus far?

The most rewarding thing in every performance is listening and watching the reactions that children have while watching the show. It’s a genuine, unscripted emotion and parents in turn can’t help but be touched, bonding and sharing such an important moment together. Parents also grew up on this book, so there’s a layer of nostalgia and joy within the child of each of us. 

2- It’s important for Latinas living in New York to find great shows like this one available in Spanish, but, the reality is that it’s not always the case. Can you tell us how this idea came along?

Of great importance to us, just as with Eric Carle’s books, we wanted to open the show to as many people from as many diverse backgrounds and cultures as possible.

While I don’t speak Spanish (or any other languages),  I do love the opera.  While I can’t understand a word they’re singing,  I love the beauty of the language, the story and the lavish, magical imagery.  Our stories are incredibly visual, and told through 75 beautifully hand-crafted puppets. Most younger children are bi-lingual, older parents and grandparents perhaps not so much… so the idea was: wouldn’t it be phenomenal if the WHOLE family could treasure and experience together and understand every word said on stage!

I honestly don’t believe it matters in what language our stories are told–Eric Carle’s stories transcend language and are so readily and easily accessible for all ages. But if our show is well-received, expect to see regular Spanish performances, and a second Hispanic cast – wouldn’t that just be terrific!

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse. Ariel Lauryn, Jake Bazel with a Polka Dot Donkey greet the Artist Weston Long. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

But, Who is Jonathan Rockefeller?

Jonathan Rockefeller is the is the co-founder of Rockefeller Productions, a company that combines film, theatre, animation, puppetry and television. He also devotes time to philanthropic work furthering childhood literacy and appreciation of the arts.

The production of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show’ debuted to a sell-out season at the Sydney Festival January 2015, and will continue to tour Australia and New Zealand through 2017. Prior to his work with Eric Carle, Jonathan co-wrote and produced the puppet-parody ‘Thank You for Being a Friend’ which has been licensed for further productions worldwide. This year Jonathan was selected as a ‘Men of Influence’ by Men’s Style Australia for his work in children’s theater and literacy.

Beyond the stage, Jonathan and Eric Carle Studios teamed up to produce and direct an animated version of ’10 Little Rubber Ducks’ based on Eric Carle’s book of the same name and narrated by Bernadette Peters.  The animation will make its film festival debut at the UK’s Bath Film Festival in December.

Other previous projects include the documentary ‘Road to Pride Rock: The Making of the Lion King’ and the screenplay ‘Coming of Age’ developed with Screen New South Wales and the Dungog Film Festival’s In the Raw program.

Accolades include Cannes Lion nomination, in addition to multiple Clio and Media Awards, High Commendations at Australian Cinematographer’s Guild [ASC], Best Television Current Affairs at the National Media Awards for an unvarnished documentary about life on the street in ‘Boy from the Blue Room’, and ‘Best Unproduced Screenplay’ at the Aus MTV Awards for ‘Satisfaction’, a satirical tale of becoming an assistant on the ‘world’s most expensive perfume commercial’.

By complete coincidence, Jonathan was a protégé of Baz Luhrmann, with a career that began during film school.  At age 17, he convinced his formidable mentor to take him on as an apprentice by literally sitting in a gutter outside Baz’s house with an ambitious cardboard sign declaring ‘Bazmark or Bust’. Jonathan worked with Baz on the US production of La Boheme and the Chanel No 5 commercial featuring Nicole Kidman.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Jake Bazel), climbs up Ariel Lauryn and Weston Long Photos by Carol Rosegg

Tickets to the Very Hungry Caterpillar Show are $49.50 -$65.50 (Premium Seats) and can be purchased by visiting ticketcentral.com or by calling 212.279.4200. For more information, visit HungryCaterpillarShow.com.  In addition to the special performances and due to popular demand the producers have also added a 4:30pm show on Saturdays beginning February 20, 2016.