Garfield the Musical with Cattitude

Ivy Tech Waldron Auditorium

Playwright

Jim Davis (Book) is best-known as the creator of GARFIELD. Jim Davis was born in Marion, Indiana, and raised on a small farm with his parents. Like most farms, the barnyard had its share of stray cats; about 25 at one time, by Jim’s estimation. As a child, he suffered serious bouts with asthma and was often bedridden. Forced inside, away from regular farm chores, he whiled away the hours drawing pictures. In college, he studied art and business before going to work for TUMBLEWEEDS creator, Tom Ryan. There, he learned the skills and discipline necessary to become a syndicated cartoonist and began his own strip, GNORM GNAT. When he tried to sell the strip to a newspaper syndicate he was told, “It’s funny, but bugs? Who can relate to a bug?” After five years of GNORM, Davis crushed the bug strip idea and tried a new tact, studying the comics pages closely. He noticed there were a lot of successful strips about dogs, but none about cats! Combining his wry wit with the art skills he had honed since childhood, GARFIELD, a fat, lazy, lasagna loving, cynical cat was born.

The strip debuted on June 19, 1978 in 41 U.S. newspapers. Several months after the launch, the Chicago Sun-Times cancelled GARFIELD. Over 1300 angry readers demanded that GARFIELD be reinstated. It was, and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, GARFIELD is read in over 2100 newspapers by 200 million people. Guinness World Records™, named GARFIELD “The Most Widely Syndicated Comic Strip in the World.” Davis’s peers at the National Cartoonist Society honored him with Best Humor Strip (1981 and 1985), the Elzie Segar Award (1990), and the coveted Reuben Award (1990), the top award presented to a cartoonist by NCS members.

Garfield’s fame spilled over to television and Davis penned eleven primetime specials for CBS-TV. He received ten Emmy nominations and four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program. Movies were next, and Twentieth Century Fox turned out Garfield: The Movie (‘04), and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (‘06). Davis also wrote the original screenplays and executive produced three animated features for DVD: Garfield Gets Real (‘07), Garfield’s Fun Fest (‘08), and Garfield’s Pet Force (‘09). Also in 2009. “The Garfield Show” made its debut on Cartoon Network. Today, the CGI animated cartoon is in its fourth season and is seen in 131 countries, including China, where CCTV broadcasts the show daily.

Michael J. Bobbitt (Book) is the Artistic Director of Adventure Theatre MTC has directed, choreographed and performed at many theatres in the DC region, including Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre Society, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Metro Stage, Rorshach Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Center Stage, Roundhouse Theatre, The Music Center at Strathmore, The Kennedy Center, The Helen Hayes Awards and the Washington National Opera.

His national and international credits include the NY Musical Theatre Festival, Mel Tillis 2001, La Jolla Playhouse, Jefferson Performing Arts Center, and 1996 Olympics. He studied creative writing and music at Susquehanna University and theater and dance at The Washington Ballet, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and NY University’s Tisch School of the Arts (Cap 21). He is a member of the Dramatist Guild of America and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

As a writer, his work has been accepted in the 2006 NYC International Fringe Festival, The New York Musical Theatre Festival and has received grants from the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s Producer-Writer Initiative, The Creative Projects Grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland State Arts Council and the Puffin Foundation. Hi new musical, Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds appeared at the New Victory Theatre in NYC. Michael has taught theater and dance at George Washington University, Catholic University, Montgomery College, Howard University, and the Washington Ballet.

Michael is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery, the Coaching Initiative for Non Profit Leaders of Color – National Training Laboratories & Mosaica and Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative – Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management. He was co-chair of Young Non-Profit Network DC- Executive Director Roundtable, NAACP chair for his son’s school in Montgomery County, a Commissioner for the Montgomery County Commission on Children and Youth, a board member for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and Theatre for Young Audiences. In 2010, Michael received the County Executive’s Excellence in the Arts and Humanities – Emerging Leader Award. He was President of the League of Washington Theatres and served on the Board of Directors of The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County and The DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative.

Currently, he serves on the board of theatre Washington, Rockville Chamber of Commerce, Non Profit Village and the American Alliance of Theatre and Education.

He has served on grants panels for The National Endowment for the Arts, The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Maryland State Arts Council. He has been a respondent for the Cohen New Works Festival at the University of Texas, The Junior Theatre Festival and the South Eastern Theatre Conference. In October 2015, Michael J. Bobbitt received the 2015 EXCEL Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement.

 

John L. Cornelius II (Music & Lyrics) is a member of ASCAP, John Cornelius’ works are garnering increasingly frequent performance throughout the United States.  His output includes a number of chamber works, orchestral works, and song cycles.  Having been the music director/arranger/composer for a number of theaters including the Great Caruso, the Ensemble Theater, Adventure Theater in Glen Echo Park, Main Street Theatre, Theater Under the Stars and Theater Under the Stars’ Humphreys School of Musical Theater, he has also written, along with his collaborator, Michael J. Bobbitt, several works for the lyric theater including, The Bingo Long Travelling All-Stars and Motor Kings, The Stephen Schwartz Project, Mirandy and Brother Wind, Say It Ain’t So!, The Yellow Rose of Texas and Going the Distance, a commission from the Smithsonian Institute,  about the lives and careers of Wilma Rudolph and Jesse Owens. Mirandy and Brother Wind received a 2010 NEA grant, premiered in 2011 in Washington, DC and is published by New Plays for Young Audiences.  His latest theatrical works, Three Little Birds, adapts the catalog of Bob Marley into a modern fairy tale and Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude, are licensed through R&H Theatricals.

He has written a number of works exploring the legacy of the African-American spiritual:  Lis’en to de Lam’s, a work for soprano duet and piano, Three Spirituals for Tenor and Strings, My Kinfolks Got Wings (woodwind quintet), Conversion, a cycle for Tenor and chamber ensemble and a host of choral settings.  Of his chamber works, Charles Ward in the Houston Chronicle wrote,The highlight … was a set of three spirituals arranged for tenor and string orchestra by composer John Cornelius. In O Fix Me, the juxtaposition of an elegant, long melody floating over a sharp, jazzy string riff was electric. “  His most recent works include Chansons Creoles, a song cycle whose text is by gens de colour of 19th-century Louisiana, Sonata of Attitudes for 2 Horns and Piano, The Kashmere Cycle, a song cycle commissioned by Houston Grand Opera’s HGOCo., and Fulfilled, a Passion Week cantata, What Wings They Were, a commission from HGOCo and a Magnificat, Mary’s Song of Joy for First Presbyterian Church of Kingwood, TX.

Currently an Associate Professor of Music at Prairie View A&M University, Dr. Cornelius is a native of Jackson, Mississippi and received his B. M. in Piano Performance from Jackson State University, a M. M. in Piano from Washington University in St. Louis and his M. M. and D. M. A. in Composition from Rice University.