Hundreds of Licking County youth watched the classic tale "Peter and The Wolf" come to life last Tuesday and Wednesday at the Midland Theatre, thanks to the Arts Education Program Yellow Bus Series presented by Mortellaro McDonald's.

Hundreds of Licking County youth watched the classic tale "Peter and The Wolf" come to life last Tuesday and Wednesday at the Midland Theatre, thanks to the Arts Education Program Yellow Bus Series presented by Mortellaro McDonald's.

The Yellow Bus Series started during the 2003-04 season at the Midland Theatre with the purpose of providing a field trip for thousands of students, many of whom might not otherwise have the chance to see a live performance, meet artists or visit a historic theatre.

Kathy Annarino, Midland marketing director, said the series is underwritten in several ways, and provides grade-specific programs for local schools.

The Yellow School Bus Series explores many learning concepts to provide both an educational and entertaining experience, according to Kathleen Napier, program coordinator.

In addition to "Peter and the Wolf, "this year's lineup include "Hansel and Gretel" and "Doktor Kaboom!," a creative mix of science and theatre arts.

Last week, the theatre hosted students in kindergarten through third grades from Granville, Johnstown, Licking Heights, Newark and Northridge school districts.

"Peter and the Wolf" is an adaptation of the traditional Russian folktale set to music by Sergei Prokofiev and presented by the Pushcart Players, a Repertory Theatre for Children based out of New Jersey.

The tale takes children through the adventures of growing up through main characters Peter, the Wolf, Grandpa and a narrator.

Johnstown's Tessa Hoderfield of Oregon Elementary liked the wolf in Wednesday's performance.

"It was fun and cool," she said.

"I thought it was funny," added Elizabeth Thomson, a third-grader.

Oregon second-grader Blake Tennant said he liked visiting the theatre, and he took notice of the friendships that were developed in the production.

Second-grader Ryan Helmke said his favorite character was the grandfather.

"It was good," he said. "I liked when (the wolf) spit out the (duck) feathers."

"I liked in the beginning, how they described the characters and told their names," added Tanner Baughman, a second-grader.

Next Thursday, Feb. 4, students in fourth through sixth grades from Johnstown, Newark and Northridge school districts will see "Doktor Kaboom!" The production will blend theatre arts and science content that ties into state and federally mandated curriculum standards.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grades are scheduled to see "Hansel and Gretel" on Tuesday, March 16. The musical will feature a strange old lady in the woods who happens to be part giant, part ogre, part elf and part troll. Children will follow sleuths as they discover the hidden truth about the old lady in the gingerbread cottage.

The Yellow Bus Series is sponsored by Mortellaro McDonald's; the Mary E. Babcock Foundation funds the seats and bus transportation for the Johnstown and Northridge students.

An Arts for All Grant from Constance C. Baldwin, Louis A. Mitchell and Christine Warner Powell covers the cost of busing and seats for Newark City Schools. The Limited Foundation pays for seats and transportation for Licking Heights Schools. Target also provides general funding for schools.

Additional support is provided by the Granville Foundation, the Licking County Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.