A small cast will soon kick off the return of live shows at the Rochester Civic Theatre, as well as the return of the company’s dedication to children’s theater.

Last July, when some restrictions on public events were lifted for theaters, the Civic presented “Romeo and Juliet” with a mostly teen cast. On Saturday, April 10, a trio of teens brings live theater back to Rochester with a show about friendship, fitting in, and bullying called “Tomato Plant Girl.”

Shea Morrey, 13, left, as "Tomato Plant Girl" and Andy Ruggeri, 18, right, as "Little Girl" take in the garden sunshine in rehearsal for the Rochester Civic Theatre's production of "Tomato Plant Girl." (John Molseed / jmolseed@postbulletin.com)
Shea Morrey, 13, left, as "Tomato Plant Girl" and Andy Ruggeri, 18, right, as "Little Girl" take in the garden sunshine in rehearsal for the Rochester Civic Theatre's production of "Tomato Plant Girl." (John Molseed / jmolseed@postbulletin.com)

The show will have a run in the black-box theater space at the Civic with six matinee performances through Sunday, April 25. After that, it will likely tour area schools and then return to the Civic for a main-stage run, said Misha Johnson, interim managing director of the Civic Theatre.

The show is geared toward a pre-kindergarten audience to teach them about the effects of bullying and teasing.

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Most kids that age likely haven’t been to a live theater show. The set, designed by Doug Sween to be mobile, is bright and colorful, and the cast add cartoonish flourishes to their performances. Costumes, designed by Rachel Bohman, are equally bright.

Lorelai Lewis, 16, left, as "Bossy Best Friend" grabs a doll from Shea Morrey, 13, center, "Tomato Plant Girl" as Andy Ruggeri, 18, right, as "Little Girl" watches in rehearsal for the Rochester Civic Theatre's production of "Tomato Plant Girl." (John Molseed / jmolseed@postbulletin.com)
Lorelai Lewis, 16, left, as "Bossy Best Friend" grabs a doll from Shea Morrey, 13, center, "Tomato Plant Girl" as Andy Ruggeri, 18, right, as "Little Girl" watches in rehearsal for the Rochester Civic Theatre's production of "Tomato Plant Girl." (John Molseed / jmolseed@postbulletin.com)

“The characters are so big and fun that it really helps tell that story,” Johnson said. “It’s like a cartoon brought to life.”

The lessons in the show are touching, she added, and are told well through live theater.

“We remember those touching moments that are emotional,” she said. “Somehow that sticks to your heart a little longer.”

The show is set to be the kickoff for the return of children’s theater programs, workshops and performances. Johnson, co-founder of Immersion Youth Repertory Theatre, plans to include one children’s production each season.

Director Kami Sim will head the new youth theater initiative.

“This should be a good start,” she said. “Hopefully we can build on it.”

Interest in the show was high among teen actors, Kim said. The auditions for the cast of three drew 14 people.

Audiences will be restricted to about 50% capacity, depending on how well separate parties can be distanced from each other.

Although the show is geared toward young children and their families, older family members will enjoy it, as well, Johnson said.

“Even adults will find it sweet and entertaining,” she said.

If you go

What: Rochester Civic Theatre's production of "Tomato Plant Girl"

When: 2 p.m. April 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25

Where: Rochester Civic Theatre

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for children. Available online at https://www.onthestage.com/show/rochester-civic-theatre/tomato-plant-girl-61251/tickets.

More info: Masks are required on the premise at all times.