A mischievous, funny, and imaginative child discovers he can make his dream world a reality.
That's the premise of local author/illustrator Shane Evans' 2009 children's book Olu's Dream. Now his tale has become a stage musical receiving its world premiere on Friday, June 8, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
Olu's Dream: The Musical features a book, music, and lyrics by Evans, who co-directs with local actress Dianne Yvette Johnson.
Among those bringing Olu's tale to life are members of the Kansas City Boys & Girls Choirs and area musicians.
Little Olu lives in London, attends an international school, and comes from a diverse background (African father/Asian mother). Inspired by his father's art, Olu and his friends embark on a series of adventures that span the universe - adventures that remind us of our own potential to dream and to make those dreams come true.
Olu's Dream: The Musical is a co-production of the Dream Studio, a community art space operated by Evans, and the True Light Resource Center, an outreach program of the Church of the Nazarene.
"True Light is just across the street from the Dream Studio," Evans said, "and Pastor Alice Piggee-Wallace of True Light allowed me to go through them to apply for a grant from the Francis Family Foundation. We not only got one, but a second grant a year later.
"The grants gave me a mental go-ahead. They said it was a worthwhile thing to push this production as a community effort."
Though his major emphasis has been on illustrating books for children, Evans has been writing music since his teens. The score for Olu's Dream, he said, was heavy on world music influences, especially African music.
"This could have been a one-man show," Evans said, "but I see it now as being about inclusion, bringing together different groups and institutions and individuals. It's about bringing the community together for a night."
Shane Evans is an artist, author, illustrator, musician, songwriter, and founder of Dream Studio, a community art space in Kansas City. He has illustrated more than 30 books, including the Shannaseries which has been turned into a Disney animated short. Evans has exhibited, lectured, and developed art programs for youth in Burkina Faso, Botswana, Brazil, China, France, Japan, Lesotho, and across the United States. His most recent book is Chocolate Me! created with actor and friend Taye Diggs.
Admission is free. The event will be preceded by a 6 p.m. kid-friendly reception. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
Co-sponsored by the Francis Family Foundation.