Wednesday, March 1, 2017

From Page to Stage

The Making of “Princess K.I.M. The Musical”
By Author-Illustrator-Playwright Maryann Cocca-Leffler

It all started in first grade. I had just started a new school and desperately wanted the kids to like me, so to impress them, I told a teeny lie. With my last name being ‘Cocca’, I informed my new classmates that my father owned the Coca Cola Company, (he didn’t). My well-intended scheme backfired and became a big problem when the kids discovered the truth. Lessoned learned.

Me- with my "Cocca Cola" set sign
Fast forward 40 years …I was sitting in my studio trying to conjure up an idea for my next children’s book when my first grade ruse came to mind. The idea of a tiny lie growing out of control seemed like a great concept.  With some twists and imagination, the idea developed into my children’s book Princess K.I.M. and The Lie That Grew in which, Kim, my main character, tells a teeny lie to impress the kids in her new school. This time, Kim announces that she is from Royalty (she isn’t) and her lie grows into a big gigantic, sometimes comical, problem.  After submitting my idea to book publishers, I sold the story to Albert Whitman & Co. in 2008. (

As life would have it, about the same time, I happened to be involved in my community theater. I didn’t know it then, but soon the book world and the stage world would collide.  While creating the artwork for the book I started to see the illustrations as a “stage set” and my characters as “actors”.  I began to hear their voices and envision certain lines from the book being perfect lyrics for songs. On my vision board, where I post my big dreams, I wrote; “Make Princess KIM into a play”. 

Princess K.I.M. And the Lie that Grew (the book) was published in 2009.  A few years later, after completing the art for the sequel, Princess Kim and Too Much Truth,
I started seriously thinking about making my dream a reality. It was time to bring Princess KIM to the stage in the form of a Children’s Musical.  In late 2010 I began my path from Page to Stage.

The Team-
My Team, Premik, Andrew & Toby
Confession- I cannot play a note of music. I am a writer, an artist with vision and a dreamer, but I’m also practical enough to know that I needed a creative team. I am also a believer that there are no coincidences. I can’t tell you how many times a conversation or an introduction led me to the person I was meant to meet. I also knew that if I wanted something, I’d have to have the courage to ASK!

With my mind open and my eyes on my goal, my path led me to my creative team; Theater professional, Toby Tarnow and two wonderful musicians, Andrew Cass and Premik Russell Tubbs, who, thankfully, where equally excited about my idea. (That’s the ‘Ask ‘part!)  We worked together for 16 months, writing the script and developing the music. We spent many hours either sitting around my piano with my children’s books and script in hand, or sending music and script files back and forth over the Internet. Through it all, this solitary author-Illustrator found a love and respect for the collaboration process, which in turn, resulted in a wonderful script and score…Princess K.I.M. The Musical.

Education & Mentors-
Having published over 60 children’s books, I knew a lot about the Book Publishing world, but not so much about the Theater Industry. I had to educate myself. During the early stages of creating the script and score, I joined the Dramatists’ Guild of NYC and also connected with theater agents and playwrights, all of whom graciously and generously gave me guidance and advice, which were instrumental in moving my project forward.

Amato Center for Arts, Milford NH
One thing I learned was in order to land a theatrical agent the play must have several productions. But how? Through the Dramatist Guild I discovered New Play contests. I submitted Princess K.I.M. The Musical to a New Play Festival at the Carol Crane Youth Theater, Ohio in 2012. Out of 180 plays, we made the top 5. My team and I traveled to Ohio for the Festival readings…and at the end of the day- we won! The prize- A Full production in Spring of 2013! We did it! Our first production.

The Launch-
I then decided in order to gain more exposure I would produce Princess K.I.M. The Musical myself at a local theater.  I started a Kickstarter campaign, gathered a production team, rented a 450-seat theater and had open auditions. This time I asked my NH community and they said YES…YES to being actors, set builders, musicians, sound engineers and everything in between. Our October 2013 local debut was a success with all five shows selling out. 

Hoboken Children's Theatre, NJ
One benefit of producing our own show was the work-shopping factor. My team could now clearly see how we could improve the play. We got to work again tweaking the script and the music as well as creating a Junior version. At this point, word got out about Princess K.I.M. The Musical.  We licensed the Junior version show to the Interlakes Summer Theater in Meredith, NH (2014) and a Full Version Production to the BeeKay Theater in Tehachpi, CA. (2015) (

At the same time, I was contacted by Artistic Director, Chase Leyner of Hoboken Children’s Theater  ( who was looking for a 50 minute TYA version of Princess KIM. Chase and I and our teams put our heads together and the TYA version was born. Princess K.I.M. The Musical TYA had a successful 8-week run at the Hoboken Children’s Theater, New Jersey in 2015.
…And to think, it all started with a teeny tiny lie I told in first grade.

2020 UPDATE: For many years Princess KIM the Musical had a licensing partner in CA. Unfortunately, it was not the right partnership and very few productions resulted.
NOW- We have control of the rights once again and are looking forward to licensing our play to any organization who would like to perform it in the future. Whether large or small, we will work with you.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Princess K.I.M. Promo video


Here's a great Promo Video:

If you know of a theater who may be 
interested in performing  Princess K.I.M. The Musical 
please share this information. 

We're so excited to see where Princess K.I.M. goes next!
Royally- Maryann and the Team,
Toby, Andrew and Premik

Princess K.I.M. The Musical is based on my books;
'Princess K.I.M. and The Lie That Grew' and 'Princess Kim and Too Much Truth' 
published by Albert Whitman and Co. Princess K.I.M. The Musical was the 2012 Winner of the Ronald Ruble National New Play Festival at the Caryl Crane Children's Theatre, Huron, OH. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mile Square Theatre OPENING of Princess KIM

I was so proud to attend the opening of the Theatre for Young Audiences production of
 Princess K.I.M. The Musical 
at Mile Square Theatre/  Hoboken Children's Theatre. 
Thank you to Chase Leyner (Producer/AD), Don Brewer (Director) 
and Scott Pearson (Musical Director) for an exceptional job! 
BRAVO to the amazingly talented cast... all Broadway-Bound pros!  
So--if you are anywhere near Hoboken, NJ- please pack up your family 
and attend. You won't be disappointed! 
VISIT: Mile Square Theatre for dates and Ticket info. 
Two shows will be performed on Saturdays through Jun 27th!
Photos and a Clip below from May 16 show:
K.I.M. played by Anastasia Beliakova

Clare Rea, Adam Maggio, Annette Hammond, Anastasia Beliakova,
Cassie Hohn, Brian Sedita, and Josh Jacobson

The class

Singing "A Princess in Our School"
Clip: "Didn't You Know?"
Singing "Come Tomorrow"
"Just and Old Lady in a Buick" Reprise

Grandma and Kim singing "Be Strong"

Maryann proudly standing with the talented cast.
The book that started it all.
(written & illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler,
Published by Albert Whitman)

Book Kim: "Oh, no."
Play Kim: "Oh, no."
Hope you get to see the play! It's fantastic.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Princess K.I.M. OPENS- CA & NJ!

It's a Princess K.I.M. Month! 
Princess K.I.M.The Musical (2 acts) opened on May 8 at the BeeKay Theatre in Tehachapi California performed by the Tehachapi Community Players. For tickets and info:
I will be attending May 22 and 23.
Also THIS weekend, May 16, the Hoboken Children's Theatre at Mile Square Theatre OPENS Princess K.I.M. The Musical (TYA)! Tickets: 
I'll be at both shows on May 16th! 

Here are photos from the California Opening:

CA:  Dad & Grandma

CA:  Grandma's Teaches the class some moves!

CA:  Together.

CA:  Kim, worried about her first day of school.

CA:  Mrs Della and class

CA:  Maggie, Kim's mom and Kim

CA:  The Play within the play...Too Many Tomatoes

CA: Finale....WE BELONG!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Princess K.I.M. Opens May 8TH IN CALIF!

Princess K.I.M. The Musical
Here's a teaser:

Tehachapi Community Theatre 
(Full edition- 2 Acts) 
May 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm
May 17 and 24- 2pm 
Tickets Now on Sale:

Go Cast!
XO Maryann and Princess KIM Team

Friday, April 24, 2015

PrIncess KIM- On TWO COASTS this Month!


 Mile Square Theatre and Hoboken Children's Theater Presents
Princess K.I.M The Musical  
(TYA 1 hour Storybook Version)
Saturdays  May 16 thru June 27  10:00AM and 1:00PM
14th and Clinton St.  Hoboken, NJ  07030
Tickets NOW on Sale:


May 16: The author, Maryann Cocca-Leffler, will be on hand at the theatre to sign books after both performances and will give a talk back after the 1pm performance. 

May 17: At 11am, the author, Maryann Cocca-Leffler, will be at Little City Books doing a reading and book signing, and cast members will be on hand to do a musical number.
Little City Books is located at 100 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken, NJ


BeeKay Theatre Tehachapi, CA

Tehachapi Community Theatre Presents:
Princess K.I.M. The Musical 
(Full edition- 2 Acts) 
May 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm
May 17 and 24 at 2:00 
Tickets Now on Sale:

For more information. including BIOS on both shows,
click the SHOWS LINK above.

Monday, March 9, 2015

California Show in Rehearsal!

 Here's a few pictures from rehearsals for 
Princess K.I.M. The Musical 
BeeKay Theatre Tehachapi, CA
May 8-24, 2015  
Click Here to Meet the CAST
Rehearsing "We Belong"!
Gracie, Violet, Kimmy and Samantha
Princess Kim and friends
Dad, Kim and Grandma
 BeeKay Theatre Tehachapi, CA
Tehachapi Community Theatre
Main Stage Production
Princess K.I.M. The Musical
 May 8th through May 24  (8 shows)
Directors Dave Shacklock and Monica Nadon
Phone: 661-822-4037