A Bad Case of Stripes: The Musical tells the story of Camilla, a girl who desperately tries to fit in despite her love for lima beans. We sat down with playwright/composer/lyricist, Kate Haderlie, to learn more about this colorful new musical!
Kate graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2012 with her degree in Music, Theatre, and Creative Writing. She took first place at the 2012 R&CW conference with her short play More Than A Dog, and premiered her first one-act musical A Christmas Quilting Bee later that year. She is a
A Bad Case of Stripes tells the story of a girl who is trying desperately to fit in. What drew you to this story?
It all started with David Shannon’s book. I was in search of an idea for a new musical when I happened upon a childhood favorite called “A Bad Case of Stripes” at the local library. The vibrant illustrations and colorful story were so captivating that I could imagine myself in Camilla’s shoes. I felt her loneliness, her confusion, her desire for acceptance. This wasn't just a story about one girl; it was a story about every kid who's ever wanted to fit in. On every page I could see new musical numbers: waking up with stripes, sticking her tongue out for the doctor, being laughed at by classmates, getting poked and prodded by specialists, surrounded by reporters… I knew this story was made for the stage!
Can you tell us about the creation process?
A project this big requires a lot of time and commitment, and it doesn’t all happen at once. I get song ideas in the shower, on the road, during a commercial, on my lunchbreak, even in my dreams! I wake up hours before my kids to slowly, painstakingly put those ideas to music. For me, playwriting and songwriting go hand-in-hand: if I’m typing a scene that needs music to convey an emotion, now I need to write a song for that scene. Or if I’m writing a song that ends up changing a character, then I need to go to the script and change that character as well. The show is constantly growing and changing until its first performance (and sometimes after)!
While I did my best to preserve the heart of David Shannon’s book, I’m grateful he gave me the liberty to create something new and special. It was so much fun to bring his characters to life in a new way.
What do you hope audiences take away from this story?
The book “A Bad Case of Stripes” was published when I was 9 years old, and it was a classroom favorite at my school. Now, decades later, it’s still a favorite of children everywhere. I think the story resonates with so many because we all feel like Camilla sometimes; we all want to feel like we belong, and wonder what we’ll have to sacrifice to fit in. My hope is that audiences will come away feeling a little more accepting of themselves, and a little more friendly to those around them who seem different. As Berry points out, “Every person has a stripe or two, you’re not alone.”