Hundreds of Abilene ISD second graders were taken into a world of make-believe on Nov. 7, as they enjoyed a presentation of “The Pout-Pout Fish” sponsored at The Paramount Theatre by the Children’s Performing Arts Series (CPAS) of Abilene.

Based on the New York Times bestselling children’s book, the play takes the theatergoer along with the Pout-Pout Fish as he discovers that being glum and spreading “dreary-wearies” isn’t his destiny. Bright ocean colors and playful rhymes come together in this fun fish story.

The show was a collaborative effort between the Young Audiences of Abilene (run by executive director Laura King) and CPAS, headed up by executive director Melissa Harrell. Because of COVID restrictions since 2020, those two organizations haven’t been able bring school children to the theatre, making the most recent show an important venture. 

“This show was really exciting for both of our programs,” Harrell said. “Each class in attendance was gifted a copy of the original Pout-Pout Fish book by Young Audiences to get them ready for the show. Working together again has been such a pleasure and was long overdue.”

Harrell said picking “The Pout-Pout Fish” production came down to several elements, not the least of which is its popularity in the world of children’s books.

“We knew that it would be the perfect show to kick off our season due to its recognizable name,” Harrell said. “The book is such a classic and popular children’s book. Another component that we loved about this show was the element of ‘under-the-sea’ puppeteering. That’s something that makes the show unique and beautiful to watch onstage.”

The actors in the show were employed by TheatreWorks USA, a well-known professional children’s theatre company that CPAS has worked with on several occasions. 

Harrell said cultivating an early love of the arts is what she hopes is one of the main takeaways for the students as they walked out of the theatre.

“CPAS plays such an important role in cultivating a love for the arts among young people here in Abilene,” she said. “Our mission is to provide access to high quality, professional children’s theatre, regardless of economic means. Having the opportunity to work with local schools to help fulfill this mission is huge for us and these students. We want them to be exposed to the arts to help foster creativity and imagination from an early age.”