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To the Core

Organic veggies at the root of conflict.

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The Big Stew  

While parents continue to twist themselves up about going organic or not, kids can now get a taste of the issue with this weekend’s return of The Big Stew. This musical fairy tale, now onstage in Chelsea at the Atlantic Theater Company, pits a Mean Green Grocer and his perfectly red irradiated tomato against the latter’s chemical-free produce cousins, seducing vegetables into the world of longer shelf lives with compliments on their looks. Playwright Kimberly Foster, not a strict organic eater herself, used the veggie tale more as metaphor to teach kids to appreciate their natural selves rather than engage them in a debate about food purity. To Foster’s surprise, when the show was first performed in 2002 (with Jason Ritter as the villain), teachers were quick to use the story as the lead-in to a science lesson. Foster, a preschool teacher herself, drew on her career-acquired knowledge of the Myers-Briggs theory of personality types and Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences when she wrote her first show and book, A Dolphin Up a Tree, which may now be headed for a TV-series deal. With Stew, Foster says she’ll keep using nonhuman characters to convey all manner of human acceptance. “Life is so much easier when you look at people from a Myers-Briggs point of view,” she says.

Atlantic Theater Company, 336 W. 20th St., nr. Ninth Ave. (212-691-5919, ext. 180); $15 grown-ups, $5 kids.


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