Seat belts everyone!

TheaterWorksUSA actors Albert Nelthropp, Mitchell Nalos, Emily Chester, Thomas Prast, Jen Chia and Cait Siobhan Kiley pose on the Magic School Bus as A Center for the Arts welcomed in Fergus Falls students Wednesday and Thursday for performances of the famed book and TV show.

Combining education and the arts are a great way to get students to learn and have a good time. Throw in a well known book and TV series and even more fun will be had.

On Wednesday and Thursday, A Center for the Arts welcomed in Fergus Falls students in grades 1-4 to watch the production “Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System” performed by TheaterWorksUSA. 

The Scholastic series of the same name features eccentric teacher, Ms. Frizzle, and her class as they learn and navigate through different educational scenarios. In the performance at the center, Ms. Frizzle takes her class on an interplanetary field trip after the group gets lost on the way to the planetarium. For those that know the series, hijinks and obstacles lay in the wait for the group as they learn about the solar system.

After having around 1,600 students and staff attend four performances, A Center for the Arts executive director Michael Burgraff stated “I wish we could do this every week,” as he waved goodbye to a group of children.

Burgraff has worked with TheaterWorksUSA for 20 years, nine in Fergus Falls. “It has been a standing working relationship and it has been a good group to bring to Fergus Falls,” Burgraff added.

The award-winning production company travels across the country delivering a variety of different shows. Other than the “Magic School Bus” the company also has performances of “Dog Man: The Musical,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Pete the Cat,” “Junie B.’s Essential Survival Guide to School” and more.

“Arts are so vital and important in this community,” Burgraff said. Speaking with the stage manager, who was from New York, he was taken aback that two sixth-graders were allowed to get out of school to see the production. Burgraff asked the two students how many stage shows that they had seen this last year that weren’t at A Center for the Arts — silence ensued. “He said ‘Ah, I get it now,’ ” Burgraff said.

What really makes Burgraff excited about having these types of productions come to the center are the comments after the show.

“As the kids leave they say ‘This is the best movie I’ve ever seen.’ They don’t necessarily get a chance to see the live theater and know it is live theater. Every time we can bring them here and offer them a great experience it’s like this. It not only helps their imaginations, its a chance for our schools to flourish with the live theater and theater has really fused itself in our community. This is a chance for students to see professional actors do something that the youth can relate to,” Burgraff said.

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