Dallas Children's Theater Blog

Astonishing Kids And Families With The Fun of Broadway-Like Plays and A Lot More!

Artist at Work: An Interview with DCT Technical Director Josh Smith

It takes a village to make a play happen. Though the actors are the face of the operation, there is a body of artists making our work at Dallas Children’s Theater possible. From artists in charge of lighting the stage to those responsible for every moment of sounds, to those actually constructing the set, there are dozens of people thinking through every single detail to ensure your experience as an audience member is nothing less than extraordinary.

DCT Technical Director Josh Smith took time out of his busy schedule to talk about the process of assembling the touring set of HOW I BECAME A PIRATE. The show literally traveled to 60 cities and performed for 113,791 audience members before returning to Dallas for a four-week run on the DCT mainstage this June. Over the course of our interview, Josh let us in on the steps involved in building a set, the challenges of creating a transportable pirate ship, and how young people can work towards a career in technical theater.

How did you get into theater?
I kind of stumbled into theater. My older sister was in theater when I was in college, and I’d go see their final performances. For fun, I’d help them strike. Later, when I went to the same college, the teachers already knew me. And they said, “If you want to work in theater, we’ll give you scholarship money.” I thought, “Hey, get paid to play around and build stuff: my kind of deal.”

What did you do when you first started out there? What were your jobs?
I did some set construction. As I got good at it, they had me do more and more set construction, but I was in a theater program where there were never enough guys, so I always ended up on stage. Even though I never auditioned for anything, I’d be cast. And I’d say, “Just let me run sound or lights or the flyline,” but I was always on stage.

What’s the first step in getting ready to design a set, and what was your experience like getting ready for PIRATE?
When you’re designing a set, the first step is obviously reading the script. You read the script; you do research on the subject – for this case, our designer did research on pirates and studied the [How I Became a Pirate] books. My job comes in usually after the designers come up with their design and talk to the director to make sure they’re on the same page. I get to see the plan and the drawings, and then I have to figure out how to build what they want, even if it defies physics. We have to make sure we’re in budget and on time, so there are a lot of steps involved, and one of the biggest things is making sure the actors are safe.

How did knowing that your set would have to be boxed up after each performance to tour the country affect your process?
One of the big things about tours is you can’t build a big, heavy, unit set. Everything has to fit into a box truck, so everything needs to break apart, be as light as possible, and be as durable as possible because it’s going to get thrown around and slammed around. It’s a big challenge balancing all that while also making a set that can be put together within a two-hour time span. For the touring group to build it, the set has to be light enough to allow them to move everything.

What was your work schedule for building this set, and what was the team process?
Here, we try really hard to keep a 9 to 5 schedule as much as possible and not work on weekends during the building stage, so a lot of it comes down to planning ahead of time, knowing your crew and what their strengths are – making sure people who are good at welding do welding; people who are good at finish work do finish work; and people that are good at artsy, decorative stuff do artsy, decorative stuff.

What do you enjoy about your job, and what’s difficult about it?
I really enjoy the challenges. No two sets are the same. You have curved stair railings; you have crow’s nests that have to be supported with minimal amount of structure showing. There are always different and interesting challenges. That’s my favorite part of the job, but that can also be the most stressful part of the job because you can do anything with the right amount of money and time. In theater, though, those are two things that you usually don’t have a whole lot of.

What advice do you have for kids who are interested in technical theater and design?
Just jump in there and do it. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. A mistake is a good thing to make as long as you learn from it. If you really care about it, go out there, read books on it, do research, and get involved in internship programs. The more people you work with, the more different experiences you have and the better you’re going to be.

 

HOW I BECAME A PIRATE runs June 15th through July 8th at DCT. For tickets and more info, visit dct.org.

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Photos by: Karen Almond, and courtesy of Josh Smith and Ryan Diller

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Ryan Diller with CaterpillarRyan Diller is a DCT Guest Writer, pictured here with one of his favorite childhood memories. He is the former Web Editor of 1966: A JOURNAL OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, and his writing has appeared in MULTIBRIEFS and HOT PRESS. He is currently working towards an MFA in Playwriting at the University of Calgary.

Remembering Ryan Goldblatt: Seeing Ryan’s Show for the First Time (part 3 of 3)

One of theater’s most profound aspects is the fact that any one performance can leave a deep, permanent impact on an audience member. Such was the case when Ryan Goldblatt saw HOW I BECAME A PIRATE with his grandparents in 2010. His mother, Joanne, remembers Ryan as bouncing off the walls with excitement when he came home, so thrilled was he by seeing his favorite book brought to life. The performance—the only theater performance he ever attended—was a highlight of Ryan’s all too short life. On September 15, 2010, Ryan died just a few weeks shy of his fourth birthday after a brave and difficult fight with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor, a rare type of cancer that usually strikes children under the age of three.

Shortly thereafter, Joanne and her husband, Andy, welcomed another child into the world, a daughter whom Ryan had chosen a name for: Emily. The three continue to keep Ryan’s memory alive through the work of the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation, which is dedicated to raising funds for the organizations and medical institutions that served Ryan during his lifetime.

In this three-part series, Joanne—with input from family members—discusses her son, the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation, and DCT’s production of HOW I BECAME A PIRATE, which is dedicated in Ryan’s memory.

 

Seeing Ryan’s Show for the First Time
(part 3 of 3)

Is Emily excited to see HOW I BECAME A PIRATE? 
Emily is definitely excited to see the show. She loves ALL Dallas Children’s Theater plays, but knowing this is the only show Ryan saw is very special to her.

Do you see shows with Emily now? What does she think of the theater?
Of course we see shows with Emily now! We are season members of Dallas Children’s Theater. She sees about four or five plays a year. She LOVES Dallas Children’s Theater and the whole experience.

Why do you and Emily enjoy coming to Dallas Children’s Theater specifically?
I love coming to the theater because there is something to be said about seeing a performance “live.” The scenery and backdrops are always stunning. There is no question how much time and dedication and passion are poured into each one of the plays at Dallas Children’s Theater. I love watching Emily’s face during the play. She is so mesmerized and is taken to another place and time. It’s truly amazing. She loves seeing her favorite characters come to life in shows such as PINKALICIOUS; FANCY NANCY; and GO, DOG. GO!

How did you react when you found out DCT would be producing PIRATE again?
I cried. That was my first reaction. It was a happy cry, though! I was so touched beyond words that Dallas Children’s Theater wanted to bring back the play because of Ryan. As a mother, I can’t think of a higher compliment. All of the hard work and effort we have put into this foundation has led to this: Ryan’s memory is living on. I couldn’t be more proud. As mentioned before, Andy and I never saw the play. His grandparents took him. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to see the play that Ryan loved so much. I’m sure it will be emotional for me, no doubt. I’ll cry rivers, but it will be perfect.

What do you hope will occur as a result of DCT dedicating the production to Ryan?
My hope is that more people will get to know Ryan. I hope that his memory continues to touch people in positive ways. I also hope that families with young children choose to take their kids to plays more often. Going to the theater is such an amazing experience for a child. I hope more children get exposed to theater and benefit from it the way Ryan did and the way Emily does.

Any thoughts from Andy?
I’m very excited that this show is being brought to life again and that our story somehow inspired it. HOW I BECAME A PIRATE is a story about a young boy who uses his imagination to create wonderful places and characters. It’s a great message and one that is very near and dear to our hearts as we remember our son, Ryan.

 

HOW I BECAME A PIRATE runs from June 15th to July 8th. For more information, go to dct.org.

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Contributors: Joanne Goldblatt (Ryan’s Mom), Andy Goldblatt (Ryan’s Dad), Emily Goldblatt (Ryan’s Sister), Neil and Lois Goldblatt (Ryan’s grandparents), and Jack and Barbara Wilpon (Ryan’s grandparents)

Photos: Courtesy of the Goldblatt Family and Ryan Diller

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Ryan Diller with CaterpillarCompiled by Ryan Diller, a DCT Guest Writer who is pictured here with one of his favorite childhood memories. He is the former Web Editor of 1966: A JOURNAL OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, and his writing has appeared in MULTIBRIEFS and HOT PRESS. He is currently working towards an MFA in Playwriting at the University of Calgary.

Dallas Children’s Theater takes the magic of live theater to Dallas Public Libraries for summer fun

During summer 2018, Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) is taking its love of stories on the road to Dallas Public Libraries (DPL) through the DCT STORYTIME initiative. At 25 different library locations, DCT-trained interns will lead an interactive drama workshop that merges reading and acting. Attendees will have the book How I Became a Pirate, on stage at DCT from June 15 – July 8, 2018, read to them and then act out a scene from the story. DCT STORYTIME events are best suited for children ages 5-12.

For over 16 years, Dallas Children’s Theater has been going to public libraries in the summer to present the DCT STORYTIME program. Graduate-level theater students who are interning at the theater give participants a chance to learn about the page-to-stage process. This summer, students will read from the How I Became a Pirate storybook and then have their own chance to act out the story. Costume pieces are provided and area librarians look forward to weaving this offering into their already-existing programming each summer.

This community program increases access to theatrical arts to a broader range of Dallas children and families, as they experience live theater in a joyful, dynamic way at a location easily accessible to them. “Participation in the arts is key to inspiring learning in all other areas of life. Through this outreach, we are doing our part to ensure children are introduced to the soft skills, like sharing emotions in different ways and being able to focus for long periods of time—skills that will ultimately predict their success in life,” said Robyn Flatt, Executive Artistic Director of DCT.

In the face of Dallas’ educational inequities and reports on the lack of middle-skills workers in Texas, DCT’s years of experience teaching social-emotional skills and use of teaching artists are essential tools to preparing children to be college- and career- ready. DCT programs instill such skills as cooperation, empathy, team building, decision-making and others, all skills that employers say are in the greatest demand. As research supports, children love interacting with professional actors who are both inspiring and knowledgeable about their craft.

“Working with Dallas Public Libraries and our other community partners is a natural pathway to extend our unique service during the summer,” said Flatt. “We want all young citizens of Dallas to have equitable access to experiences only DCT can provide, and this use of our unique and enriching theater experience really allows us to do that in a special way.” Rated one of the country’s top five children’s theaters by TIME magazine, Dallas Children’s Theater is the largest performing arts venue in the Southwest focused solely on productions, classes and other programming for children and families.

 

The following are the confirmed workshops. Regular updates to the schedule will be posted here.

Dates Time Location Address
Mon. June 11 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Skyline Library 6006 Everglade Rd.  75227
Tues. June 12 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Forest Green Library 9015 Forest Ln.  75243
Tues. June 12 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Audelia Road Library 10045 Audelia Rd.  75238
Wed. June 13 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Hampton-Illinois Library 2951 S. Hampton Rd.  75224
Wed. June 13 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Highland Hills Library 6200 Bonnie View Rd.  75241
Thurs. June 14 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Fretz Park Library 6990 Belt Line Rd.   75254
Thurs. June 14 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Polk-Wisdom Library 7151 Library Ln.  75232
Mon. June 18 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Skillman Southwestern Library 5707 Skillman St.   75206
Tues. June 19 1:00 pm  – 2:00pm Dallas West Library 2332 Singleton Blvd.   75212
Wed. June 20 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Lochwood Library 11221 Lochwood Blvd.   75218
Wed. June 20 1:30 pm  – 2:30 pm Mountain Creek Library 6102 Mountain Creek Pkwy 75249
Thurs. June 21 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Timberglen Library 18505 Midway Rd. 75287
Thurs. June 21 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Renner Frankford Library 6400 Frankford Rd.  75252
Fri. June 22 10:00 am – 11:00 pm Highland Park Library (in the park) 4500 Drexel Dr.   75205
Fri. June 22 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Prairie Creek Library 9609 Lake June Rd.  75217
Mon. June 25 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Timberglen Library 18505 Midway Rd. 75287
Tues. June 26 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Martin Luther King Library 2922 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Bldg C 75215
Tues. June 26 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Bachman Lake Library 9480 Webb Chapel Rd.  75220
Wed. June 27 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm University Park Library 8383 Preston Center Plaza, Ste 200 75225
Thurs. June 28 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Park Forest Library 3421 Forest Ln.   75234
Thurs. June 28 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm J.Erik Jonsson Central Library 2nd Floor, 1515 Young Street 75201
Mon. July 2 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Grauwyler Park Library 2146 Gilford St.   75235
Tues. July 3 10:30 am – 11:30 am White Rock Hills Library 9150 Ferguson Rd.  75228
Tues. July 3 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Arcadia Park Library 1402 N. Justin Ave.  75211
Thurs. July 5 11:00 am – 12:00 pm North Oak Cliff Library 302 W. 10th St.  75208
Thurs. July 5 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Lakewood Library 6121 Worth St.   75214

 

 

Photo credits: Craig Lynch; Courtesy of Dallas Children’s Theater.

They’ve sailed the US sharing this musical story of adventure!

Meet the cast of DCT’s National Touring Production of HOW I BECAME A PIRATE.

ALEX ALTSHULER
(Jeremy Jacob / Dance Captain)

Alex is thrilled to be making her DCT debut in How I Became a Pirate! A graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma, her acting credits include Saturday Night Fever (Annette), A Chorus Line (Kristine), and West Side Story (Graziella). Thanks to Doug, Sally, my parents, and the DCT team.

 

 

LLOYD HARVEY II
(Swill the Pirate / Company Manager)
Lloyd Harvey is a professional theater, commercial, and print artist. This is his first tour and he couldn’t be happier! As an actor, he has worked throughout the D-FW area with numerous theaters including Casa Mañana, Jubilee Theatre, Uptown Players, WaterTower Theatre, OhLook Performing Arts Center, Artisan Center Theater, Fort Worth Theatre, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, and Dallas Children’s Theater. He is represented by The Kim Dawson Agency.

 

JOHN KELLEY
(Max the Pirate)
John is pleased to be touring with Dallas Children’s Theater again after an 11 year hiatus. Last seen as The Stinky Cheese Man in the international touring production The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fair(l)y (Stoopid) Tales, How I Became a Pirate marks his fifth tour. John holds a Master’s Degree in Playwriting, and is a Marine Corps veteran of Desert Storm.

 

STEVEN MILLER
(Captain Braid Beard)
Steven is thrilled to be making his debut with Dallas Children’s Theater as Captain Braid Beard. Steven attended the University of Southern California and graduated with a major in Theatre Arts and a double minor in Cinematic Arts and Musical Theatre. Since returning to Dallas, he has appeared in several productions including Bye Bye Birdie (Albert Peterson) at The Firehouse Theatre, A Man of No Importance (Rasher Flynn) at Brick Road Theatre, and The Producers (Franz Liebkind) at Garland Summer Musicals. Steven would like to thank his mom Susan, his grandparents Gerald and Virginia, and his girlfriend Lindsey for their love and support.

 

NOLAN SPINKS
(Pierre the Pirate)
Nolan is excited to be working with Dallas Children’s Theater for the first time and to be part of this amazing cast and crew. A native of Evansville, IN, he graduated with a degree in acting from the University of Southern Indiana where he acted in Godspell (Jesus), Spring Awakening (Hanschen), and In The Next Room (Leo Irving). Since moving to the D-FW area, he has worked with Winspear Opera House and Brick Road Theatre. Most recently, he performed the roles of Jason in Bare and Ram’s dad in Heathers at OhLook Performing Arts Center in Grapevine, TX. Nolan would like to thank you all for coming, and hopes you enjoy this show as much as he and his crew have enjoyed putting it together.

 

MICHAEL STIMAC
(Sharktooth the Pirate)
Michael is delighted to be part of the cast of How I Became a Pirate and is excited to be working in his first show with Dallas Children’s Theater. He received a BFA in theater from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, earning a Kennedy Center commendation for acting. His credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Clybourne Park, and The Seafarer. Since moving to Dallas, he has appeared in productions at Shakespeare Dallas, and Shakespeare In The Bar.

HOW I BECAME A PIRATE runs from June 15 – July 8, 2018. Tickets on sale at dct.org.

 


 

DCT’s NATIONAL TOURING PRODUCTION
HOW I BECAME A PIRATE

Book, Music & Lyrics by Janet Yates Vogt & Mark Friedman
Based on the book by Melinda Long
Illustrations by David Shannon

June 15 – July 8, 2018
Ages 4 and up

Ahoy matey! It’s time to sail off on a swashbuckling musical excursion with Jeremy Jacob and his new pirate friends. On board the ship, Jeremy travels to new worlds while learning the rules of pirate life, and searches for a place to bury their treasure. But it isn’t long before he misses his family and yearns for someone to tuck him in at night back home. A story of adventure and finding one’s own heart—a path that can’t be found on any map!

 

Photos courtesy of the actors.

 

 

Remembering Ryan Goldblatt: Life with a Sick Child (part 2 of 3)

What advice do you have for parents whose child has a serious illness? Whose child has died?
My advice for parents who have a child with a serious illness is to make memories and take lots of pictures and videos. You can never have enough pictures and videos of your child. I would encourage them to try and do something fun with their child. Go to the park; go to the circus; do something you normally wouldn’t do because those are the moments you are going to remember the most. You might think “we have so many bills—we just can’t afford tickets to a play or a drive to the beach for the weekend.” But it’s something you won’t regret. Seeing the joy on your child’s face is worth it. Remember they are kids—kids just want to have fun with their parents. It really doesn’t matter what you do—just spend time together and make memories.

My advice for parents who have lost a child is to talk about your child often. Keep their memory alive by talking about them. Don’t worry if it makes others uncomfortable. Your child lived and left a mark in this world. Don’t forget that.

How has all of this changed you?
Losing a child is so hard. Of course it has changed me. I am much more compassionate. I think I was compassionate before losing Ryan, but since losing him, I feel like I need to really help those who are going through the unthinkable. I know what it’s like to watch your child struggle and fight for his life. And I know what it’s like to lose a child. Of course I wish nobody had to endure this pain and heartache, but if there are people who have to endure this, I would like to think I could offer them some compassion and help in any way I can. I don’t think I would have known what to do before. I am much more emotional. I was a very emotional person before Ryan died. I always cried at sad movies. Andy jokes that I used to cry at an Applebee’s commercial because a young neighbor brought dinner to her elderly neighbor, and it would make me bawl. Now, since Ryan’s death, I might hear a song on the radio that reminds me of him and just cry uncontrollably in the car. Oftentimes, I’m at Dallas Children’s Theater with Emily and I think about Ryan because I know he loved seeing HOW I BECAME A PIRATE, and I start crying during the middle of the play. Lastly, I appreciate the positive things in my life much more. I don’t take anything for granted anymore.

What does Emily know about her brother?
Andy and I talk about Ryan to Emily all the time. We have Ryan’s pictures displayed in our home, and we openly talk about him. She knows he was a happy boy whose favorite color was turquoise. She knows his favorite TV show was The Wiggles. She knows he loved sorting pompoms and pencils and crayons and anything he could get his hands on. She also knows he was very sick and was very brave and strong. She knows he picked out her name, “Emily.” She knows he loves her very much and is in heaven looking down on her with so much pride and love.

Has Emily been involved with anything Foundation-related?
Every Halloween, the foundation puts together goodie/treat bags for the kids receiving chemo at Children’s Medical Center – Dallas. We personally deliver these bags to the kids on October 17th (Ryan’s birthday). Emily has been involved in this activity since she was about three years old. She helps me pick out what toys and treats we put in the bags, and once we receive everything at the house, we set up an assembly line on the dining room table and put one of each toy in about 50-60 Halloween bags. This is something she always looks forward to doing. Andy, Emily, and I take the bags and hand them to the kids every year. Emily loves being involved in this because it makes her feel closer to her brother. I love doing this as a family every year and think it’s important to expose Emily to this life her brother lived.

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Coming Up Next: In part 3 of this three-part series, the family talks about their excitement of seeing the show HOW I BECAME A PIRATE for the very first time.

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Contributors: Joanne Goldblatt (Ryan’s Mom), Andy Goldblatt (Ryan’s Dad), Emily Goldblatt (Ryan’s Sister), Neil and Lois Goldblatt (Ryan’s grandparents), and Jack and Barbara Wilpon (Ryan’s grandparents)

Photos: Courtesy of the Goldblatt Family, and Ryan Diller

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Ryan Diller with CaterpillarCompiled by Ryan Diller, a DCT Guest Writer who is pictured here with one of his favorite childhood memories. He is the former Web Editor of 1966: A JOURNAL OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, and his writing has appeared in MULTIBRIEFS and HOT PRESS. He is currently working towards an MFA in Playwriting at the University of Calgary.

Remembering Ryan Goldblatt: Larger Than Life (part 1 of 3)

One of theater’s most profound aspects is the fact that any one performance can leave a deep, permanent impact on an audience member. Such was the case when Ryan Goldblatt saw HOW I BECAME A PIRATE with his grandparents in 2010. His mother, Joanne, remembers Ryan as bouncing off the walls with excitement when he came home, so thrilled was he by seeing his favorite book brought to life. The performance—the only theater performance he ever attended—was a highlight of Ryan’s all too short life. On September 15, 2010, Ryan died just a few weeks shy of his fourth birthday after a brave and difficult fight with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor, a rare type of cancer that usually strikes children under the age of three.

Shortly thereafter, Joanne and her husband, Andy, welcomed another child into the world, a daughter whom Ryan had chosen a name for: Emily. The three continue to keep Ryan’s memory alive through the work of the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation, which is dedicated to raising funds for the organizations and medical institutions that served Ryan during his lifetime.

In this three-part series, Joanne—with input from family members—discusses her son, the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation, and DCT’s upcoming production of HOW I BECAME A PIRATE, which is being dedicated in Ryan’s memory.

 

Ryan: Larger Than Life…(part 1 of 3)

What do you want people to know about Ryan?
Ryan was such a happy boy and always eager to please. He never let cancer get in the way of living a happy life. He loved people, especially grownups. Ryan always preferred adult company over kid company. He had a way with adults that made them feel comfortable around him. Even adults who didn’t have kids of their own and didn’t like being around kids loved hanging out with Ryan. He was an old soul who could capture the hearts of everyone he met.

Tell me a little about Ryan’s love of pirates and the book/play How I Became a Pirate.
Ryan had a huge library of books. Huge. Ryan had a year-long chemotherapy protocol. He was receiving chemo every three weeks for a year. Because of this very rigorous treatment plan, we had to be very careful with him as far as exposing him to others and exposing him to activities and events outside of the hospital or our home. He had very low blood counts most of the time and was very susceptible to getting sick or infections. Because of this, we had to spend most of the year at our home and entertain him with toys, games, TV, and books. Ryan loved reading books. We had a hundred books in his bookcase. I have no idea who gave us the book How I Became a Pirate. We had visitors come over to our home and the hospital all the time. Visitors never came empty-handed. Someone gave us the How I Became a Pirate book, and Ryan loved it after the first time we read it to him. He wanted us to read it again and again. We read that book at least three or four times a week. He loved when the pirates were talking about eating “THE MEAT!!” Ryan would always say, “THE MEAT!!” That was his favorite part.

Tell us about Ryan seeing the show. How did he react?
We were not familiar with Dallas Children’s Theater prior to Ryan’s cancer diagnosis. A friend of ours mentioned to us that DCT was putting on a production of HOW I BECAME A PIRATE and that we should take Ryan to see it. I couldn’t believe it! I never considered taking Ryan to a play before. We knew we had to take him to see this play. Ryan’s grandparents offered to take him. They were excited to spend the day with Ryan, and they knew Andy and I could use a few hours to ourselves. We chose a performance where we knew Ryan’s counts would be high enough to leave the house for a few hours. When we told Ryan he was going to see the HOW I BECAME A PIRATE play, he was over the moon! He had never seen a play before. I’m not sure he really understood what a play was, but he knew it was something special and it was about Braid Beard, so how could it be bad? I remember when the grandparents came and picked him up—he was so happy and excited! He had a smile on his face from ear to ear. When he returned from the play, he came running to us and was eager to tell us all about it. He loved it! The story came alive right before his eyes, and it was nothing short of amazing for him. It was the first and only book he read that turned into a live-action play.

How did the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation come about?
After Ryan passed away, Andy and I knew we needed to form a foundation in Ryan’s memory. Eleven months after Ryan died, we received notification that our foundation had been approved and was officially a non-profit organization. In the beginning, our focus was to give back to Children’s Medical Center – Dallas and also to give back to all of the worthy organizations that helped us during Ryan’s illness, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Heroes for Children, and Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer, just to name a few. About four months after Ryan died, our daughter Emily was born. When Emily was two or three years old, we started taking her to plays at Dallas Children’s Theater. It was then that it dawned on us that we should partner with Dallas Children’s Theater and expand our focus. Our new focus was to provide theater entertainment to kids fighting cancer. We saw firsthand the effect it had on Ryan, and we wanted to give that experience to other kids fighting cancer. With this inspiration, DCT is now making 3 – 4 promotional appearances per year at the hospital for all the children to see. It gives the kids a much-needed distraction from their difficult days in the hospital. We are extremely proud of this partnership between our foundation, Dallas Children’s Theater, and Children’s Medical Center – Dallas.

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Coming Up Next: In part 2 of this three-part series, mom Joanne shares candid thoughts on what it’s like to lose a child.

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Contributors: Joanne Goldblatt (Ryan’s Mom), Andy Goldblatt (Ryan’s Dad), Emily Goldblatt (Ryan’s Sister), Neil and Lois Goldblatt (Ryan’s grandparents), and Jack and Barbara Wilpon (Ryan’s grandparents)

Photos: Courtesy of the Goldblatt Family, Ryan Diller, and DCT staff

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Ryan Diller with CaterpillarCompiled by Ryan Diller, a DCT Guest Writer who is pictured here with one of his favorite childhood memories. He is the former Web Editor of 1966: A JOURNAL OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, and his writing has appeared in MULTIBRIEFS and HOT PRESS. He is currently working towards an MFA in Playwriting at the University of Calgary.

Mowgli makes his way through the jungle, and comes out a star!

Rafael Villegas played Mowgli when DCT produced JUNGALBOOK in 2003. He acted with Douglass Burks and was directed by Artie Olaisen, both of whom are part of the current production.

Rafael watched a performance of the show and answered some questions for us. Read his answers, and then come see this production for yourself!

What do you think of this version of the show?
I loved it! The costumes were great, the set was beautiful, and everyone played their characters well.

What did you learn from playing the role of Mowgli in 2003?
Well, I was 21 when I took that role. It was my first big lead role! So I learned to take charge while still becoming one with the cast. It was important for me to help them out and give them something to work with on stage.

Why is this a good story for people to see?
This show is a story about acceptance and friendship and loyalty. It teaches values and morals, and for all of us to embrace and accept others.

What did your time and work here teach you?
It taught me to focus on my goal. Each year there was a new challenge, and it just taught me to never give up when things got hard. It was a transition from my training into being a professional, so it gave me an opportunity to grow as a professional and develop my work ethic.

What are you working on these days?
I just finished the staged reading of ANDI BOI, and I really hope I get to be part of that on stage. Aside from that, I’ve been working on some film and TV projects. I did some work on Queen of the South and then a project on Netflix where I was lucky enough to work with Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase.

 

Only 2 performances left! Get your tickets now to meet the new Mowgli and learn about jungle life, loyalty, and family. Get tickets at dct.org.

The incredible bond between species…Can you relate?

As we think about our production of JUNGALBOOK, I thought it was also a good time to take a look at the relationship between humans and animals. Of course, I realize that Mowgli’s experience of being raised by wolves and having wild neighbors is very different than the experience of adopting a pet. I think, though, we can all appreciate that pet adoption is a valuable thing you can do for our community; it’s hopefully something that would also bring unimaginable joy to your family.

The Dallas Animal Shelter’s mission is to help Dallas be a safe, compassionate, and healthy place for people and animals. Unfortunately, there are animals that are surrendered by their owners or simply homeless strays that need daily care. While they provide care to these animals every day and search for rescue facilities for animals that are not adopted, there are still animals that are euthanized every month. In July, 2017, over 1,000 animals were euthanized. That’s something no one likes to talk about, but it’s a heartbreaking reality.

I have to admit I never understood the idea of being an “animal parent” until two dogs became part of our household. Now I get it. I get how they become like family. You clean up their dirtiest messes, you make sure they’re tucked in at night, and sometimes you even (accidentally) drink after they’ve had their tongue in your iced tea.

And they’re a huge responsibility. Our two boys have learned a lot about responsibility by taking care of our two dog girls. With our older dog, they’ve learned that if their teeth aren’t healthy, they lose them – which, I admit is a maniacal way to get boys to brush their teeth. They exercise together, and since dogs don’t play with screens (until I’m trying to work and they a;oirenafkd…step on my keyboard) they actually go outside and play with toys and balls and Frisbees.

Older adults often find companionship in caring for a pet. When grandchildren aren’t around, they enjoy watching the animals play with a favorite squeaky toy and then often get a nice snuggle when pets of all shapes and sizes decide that they belong on their lap!

That is what animals do for US! Think about what we are doing for these animals. The Dallas Animal Shelter has a very useful website where you can see statistics on all the animals that have been brought into the shelter. You can see the breed, their health, and how they arrived at the shelter. Many were strays, but it’s sad to see how many are surrendered by their owners, usually due to a move or a divorce. There are animals who know how to love and who are so appreciative to the humans that bring them into their home, regardless of their breed. Check these stories out

Then there are the specially trained animals that have a greater purpose, like service dogs or those who belong to the police department or armed services.  Of course they aren’t available for adoption, but they do show us that animals are smart and capable, and worth our time and effort in caring for them.

As I mentioned, being a pet owner is a great responsibility, so pets don’t belong in every household. The Dallas animal shelter website offers lots of resources for your consideration before bringing any animal home. Whether it’s a dog, cat, lizard, goldfish, or baby duck, remember these are living creatures, not decorations. Make sure your home is one that can accommodate an addition before having your kids fall in love with their cute, eager-to-please faces.

As you watch Mowgli interacting with his animal family, we hope you will consider if adding an animal in need to your family (perhaps NOT a bear) might be beneficial. It’s obvious when we watch the joy that can occur between animals and humans that inter-species relationships are very rewarding! Celebrate all of our animal friends by join us for a JUNGALBOOK performance between now through May 26. For tickets and more information, visit dct.org.

 

Guest Blogger Sherry Ward, shown here with her dog Willow, is a mother, actor, and writer based in D-FW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNGALBOOK
An adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s
The Jungle Book stories
By Edward Mast

NOW thru May 26, 2018
Ages 5 and up

See Kipling’s original 1894 coming of age tale brought to the stage, and join Mowgli in learning the moral lessons of home, betrayal, life and death, and loyalty. Mowgli lives in the jungle surrounded by panthers, bears, wolves, snakes, and tigers. They are his protectors, and he believes he is one of them. When Mowgli comes face to face with a fearsome tiger, he is forced to choose between his bond with the jungle and the reality of his humanness. This classic story of the struggle for survival and a place that feels like home will have audiences on the edge of their seats.

Only 6 performances left!

Saturday, May 19, 1:30 PM
Saturday, May 19, 4:30 PM
Sunday, May 20, 1:30 PM
Sunday, May 20, 4:30 PM
Saturday, May 26, 1:30 PM
Saturday, May 26, 4:30 PM

 

Photos credits: Karen Almond, DCT staff, via care[dot]com, via mikeatfarmers[dot]com, via creativecommons[dot]org / West Midlands Police, via excelatl[dot]com, and courtesy of Sherry Ward.

Note: This play is about the survival of animals in the jungle and therefore contains scenes that some may find disturbing. Please use your own judgment as it relates to the appropriateness for your young people.

If you would like to use one of DCT’s Assistive Listening Devices during the show, or if you have your own device that you would like to plug into DCT’s system, please make every effort to visit us at least 30 minutes in advance before the show.

If you need accessible seating (wheelchair seating, visual impaired, etc.), please enter the information in the notes section of your order and/or call 214-740-0051. Please call if performance time is within the next three days. Thank you.

Mark Your Calendars: DCT’s 18-19 Sensory-Friendly Performances

Come join us! Bring your friends! We want EVERYONE to enjoy the magic of live theater!

Tickets on sale August 1st for TREASURE ISLAND Reimagined! and September 4th for all additional sensory-friendly shows in DCT’s 2018-2019 season. Phone orders only at 214-740-0051. More info at dct.org/sensory.

TREASURE ISLAND Reimagined!
Adapted for the stage by Katy Tye, Jeffrey Colangelo, and Robyn Flatt
Based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson

Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sat., Oct. 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Ages 7 and up

Friendship, betrayal, and adventure are front and center in this bold world premiere! And Jim Hawkins, Ben Gunn, and Long John Silver will do just about anything to be the first to claim the buried treasure. From the moment you enter the theater, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the action. Step into a world of dramatic sword fights, thrilling acrobatics, and magical shadow puppetry as Dallas Children’s Theater, Prism Movement Theatre, Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts, and Lone Star Circus® come together to present a wildly original version of this iconic tale. Grab your costume and come aboard our ship. Your help is needed to decide who gets to take home the gold!

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A GHOST TALE FOR MR. DICKENS
Book by Will Osborne and Jenny Laird
Lyrics by Randy Courts and Will Osborne
Music by Randy Courts
Based on Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #16: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time by Mary Pope Osborne

Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sat., Nov. 17, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Ages 6 and up

Magic Tree House, the #1 bestselling chapter book series of all time, premieres this large-scale, holiday-themed spectacular in Dallas! Be among the first to see brother and sister duo, Jack and Annie, whisked back in time aboard their magical tree ride to the foggy streets of Victorian England. Their mission: to help the famous writer Charles Dickens overcome a terrible bout of writer’s block. With a little help from three ghost friends, Jack and Annie learn how charity and kindness can change the course of history. No “Bah Humbug” here…this musical is a fantasy adventure filled with wonderful songs and dances of the season!

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THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS
Adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
Based on the books by Ezra Jack Keats
Music by Victor Zupanc
Produced in collaboration with Soul Rep Theatre

Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sat., Jan. 5, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Ages 3 and up

Oh, the magic of childhood! Follow Peter and his friends as they enjoy the excitement of a fresh snowfall, the delight of whistling for the first time, the awe in finding a special treasure, and the feelings of a first crush. Packed with humor and fun, this production combines wonderfully innovative shadow puppetry and live action to showcase Keats’ beautiful appreciation for diversity. In fact, his characters ultimately became an inspiration for Sesame Street! An adaptation of Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, A Letter to Amy, and the groundbreaking Caldecott Winner The Snowy Day, this uplifting story collection encourages us to play and live life to the fullest each day.

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ELLA ENCHANTED: THE MUSICAL
By Karen Zacarías
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma
Adapted from the book by Gail Carson Levine
By special arrangement with Miramax

Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sat., Feb. 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Ages 6 and up

Ella of Frell is turning the traditional Cinderella story upside down! At birth, she was given the “gift” of obedience which forces her to do anything people command: whether that’s hopping on one foot all day or telling her best friend to just go away! As a teenager, strong-willed Ella chooses to reject this lifestyle as her fate and embarks on a quest to break the curse forever. Along the way, feisty Ella must outwit her evil stepsisters, escape hungry ogres, and save the prince before she can claim her real voice. In this fun and spirited musical extravaganza that stays true to the Newbery Honor book, children will discover the power of words while laughing, singing, and dancing out loud.

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TUCK EVERLASTING
Script by Mark J. Frattaroli
Based on the book Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sat., March 23, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Ages 10 and up

What if you could live forever? What if you were asked to keep a shocking secret? Young Winnie Foster suddenly finds herself faced with these dilemmas when she ventures from her routine one single summer morning. What she encounters at the foot of a magnificent tree in the woods on her family’s land brings her face to face with monumental life choices. A romance, a new family, perhaps eternal life? What follows is a whirlwind of events and a life-affirming adventure that The New York Times called “fearsome and beautifully written.” Considered one of the classics of modern children’s literature, this poetic story comes intensely to life on the DCT stage.

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THE ISLAND OF THE SKOG
Script by Linda Daugherty
Based on the book The Island of the Skog by Steven Kellogg

Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sat., May 4, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Ages 3 and up

The best laid plans of mice and well, Skog, are upended in this lively musical adventure that navigates land and sea. When Jenny and her mice friends grow weary of ravenous cats, noisy humans, and peril on the streets, they decide a new island paradise is the order of the day. Led by the surly Captain Bouncer, the Rough-riding Rowdies think they’ve hit the jackpot until they discover that a “giant” already has dibs on their newfound home. The Rowdies and Skog each devise a survival of the fittest plan that, in the end, only points out the flaws that come with assuming the worst and refusing to compromise. A delightfully charming and gentle story that brings to life the author’s beloved illustrations and characters.

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DCT’s NATIONAL TOURING PRODUCTION
DIARY OF A WORM, A SPIDER & A FLY
Book, Music & Lyrics by Joan Cushing
Based on the three books by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss

Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sat., June 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Ages 3 and up

The coolest ever rock-n-roll romp through a bug’s world commands center stage in this hip-hoppin’ musical that promotes eco-consciousness, earth science, and tolerance of others. The popular characters from the bestselling books are not so unusual: Worm eats his homework and has no legs. Fly has 327 siblings and wants to be a superhero. And Spider can’t wait to grow up and molt. When Fly’s Aunt Rita needs help getting out of a tight spot, the squad must combine their talents and work as a team on the rescue mission of a lifetime. While there’s no pop quiz, you might just learn that a bug’s life isn’t that different from your own.

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ADDITIONAL CREDITS:
MAGIC TREE HOUSE:  A GHOST TALE FOR MR. DICKENS TYA is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).  All
authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com
DIARY OF A WORM, A SPIDER & A FLY – © 2011 Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss. By special arrangement with Pippin Properties, Inc. and Gurman Agency LLC.
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IMAGE CREDITS:
THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS – Peter illustration used by permission of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. THE ISLAND
OF THE SKOG – Illustrations from The Island of the Skog copyright ©1973 by Steven Kellogg. All rights reserved. Used with permission. DIARY OF A
WORM, A SPIDER & A FLY –  Illustrations © 2003, 2005, and 2007 by Harry Bliss. Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc. All other images ©
2018, 2019  Dallas Children’s Theater 

A Word About Adoption of Children and JUNGALBOOK…

It’s fascinating to witness how animals often bond better than we humans do.  Watching many of the nature shows, it’s evident that animals instinctively know how to bond: The German Shepherd and the duck; the rabbit and the kitten; the newborn and the pit bull.  I’m thinking about this now as my family and I make plans to go see DCT’s JUNGALBOOK.  It’s a story about how a young boy, Mowgli, finds himself a welcomed member of the animal family after some challenging circumstances.  He is essentially adopted by a bear and a panther, and because of how they care for him, he just assumes he is one of them.  Of course, the story is a classic tale of survival and finding place beautifully written by genius Rudyard Kipling, but it also makes me think about how important our adoptive families are.  For so many children, they set the tone for those young people’s lives.

Currently more than 6,800 children are available for adoption in Texas, many who have been abandoned or removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. There are several adoption options available in Texas. And 87% of adoptive parents say they would make the same choice to adopt knowing what they know about their adoptive children and their overall experience.

We all know there is no longer a “normal” family structure. The idea of the four-character “nuclear family” with a mom, dad, brother and sister is not all there is. And that is great for adults that desire to be parents.  There are many services available to match them with a child. Much of my information came from adoptionchoicesoftexas.org, but there are plenty of other resources out there.  The main point here is that there are children all over the world that need people/parents with the resources to take care of them.  To those who have taken in the many innocent Mowglis in need of love and guidance, we salute you for your dedication and commitment to preserving a life.  You demonstrate the strength and heart of the bear and panther that save Mowgli in JUNGALBOOK.

The play, JUNGALBOOK, is a magical way to celebrate those who make sacrifices to care for the young, innocent and marginalized.  I invite you to check it out while it is running at Dallas Children’s Theater.  You just might find that you have a lot more in common with the animal kingdom than you ever imagined.  JUNGALBOOK runs through May 26.

 

 

 

JUNGALBOOK
An adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book stories
By Edward Mast

NOW through May 26, 2018
Ages 5 and up

See Kipling’s original 1894 coming of age tale brought to the stage, and join Mowgli in learning the moral lessons of home, betrayal, life and death, and loyalty. Mowgli lives in the jungle surrounded by panthers, bears, wolves, snakes, and tigers. They are his protectors, and he believes he is one of them. When Mowgli comes face to face with a fearsome tiger, he is forced to choose between his bond with the jungle and the reality of his humanness. This classic story of the struggle for survival and a place that feels like home will have audiences on the edge of their seats.

If you need accessible seating (wheelchair seating, visual impaired, etc.), please enter the information in the notes section of your order and/or call 214-740-0051. Please call if performance time is within the next three days. Thank you.

Buy tickets now to see JUNGALBOOK.

 

 

Sherry Ward is a mother, actor, and writer based in D-FW.

 

 

 

Note: This play is about the survival of animals in the jungle and therefore contains scenes that some may find disturbing. Please use your own judgment as it relates to the appropriateness for your young people.

Photo credits:
First photo via Pinterest, second photo via cats[dot]ava[dot]com, third photo lifewithdogs[dot]tv.
JUNGALBOOK photos by Karen Almond, final photo courtesy of Sherry Ward.