Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

Artists at Work: How Lighting and Sound Enhance the Fun Mystery of GOOSEBUMPS

Many actors and designers say that the theater is like a second home; they love spending time and making memories with dear friends and family while working on a project. As part of our Finding the Way Home season, DCT wants you to feel comfortable when you’re here creating memories with family, too. To help you feel more connected to the theater, we’re featuring some of the artists who create the beautiful work you see on stage. In this feature, meet Aaron and Marco, our GOOSEBUMPS Artists at Work!

Lighting Designer Aaron Johansen (AJ) has designed five shows and counting for DCT, and has also designed many shows for the Dallas Theater Center, Kitchen Dog Theater and Cara Mía Theatre Company. Sound Designer Marco Salinas (MS) has designed many shows for DCT over the last 18 years. He has also designed for shows as far away as New York City and Ireland!

Aaron and Marco recently sat down with us to explain what special effects are; scenes in the show that wouldn’t be the same without their effects; and much more.

 

DCT: Were you a Goosebumps fan before working on the show?

MS: I’m a little too old to have been a Goosebumps fan, but they sound like a lot of fun.

AJ: I was a huge Goosebumps fan when I was a child. I read all the books, I saw the TV show. I did everything, so when I found out I was doing this show I was thrilled. I went back and watched the original episode, “The Phantom,” which is terribly cheesy; it’s so funny. I think it’s so appealing because this is the type of scary that’s okay for children. It’s not gory; it’s just pop-out scary and mysterious.

 

DCT: What is a special effect?

MS: A special effect is something in a movie or a play that creates an illusion of something that isn’t really there. It usually does that through lighting or sound effects, and it helps the actors and audience believe something is happening that may not actually be happening.

AJ: Exactly. Special effects are the use of lighting and sound combined together to create a specific situation, a special effect on stage – like making it snow or making it look like winter.

 

DCT: What is your process for designing a special effect?

AJ: My process of creating lighting effects is usually reading a script, seeing what the script calls for, and then adding my own artistic opinion to that. So, in this show, there were a lot of specific effects that needed to happen with the lights flickering when the phantom comes in and disappears, the lighting helps with that. We also go to a spooky basement, so I had to figure out how the lighting helps create that environment.

MS: My process would be talking to the director, reading the script and coming up with sound cues myself. The publishers for this particular musical provided a lot of the music tracks that underscore the show and that the actors sing to. But I’ve also provided a lot of additional sound effects that did not come with the packaged sound cues. In this case, I did speak with the director, and we decided on the augmentations we wanted to kind of bring GOOSEBUMPS to life.

 

DCT: What’s an example of a scene in the show that wouldn’t be the same without your effects?

MS: The elevator sequence where the two main characters are in the audience. They idea is that they’re in this spooky basement then they hear a noise, and they look over and see the phantom briefly appear and then he runs off. Through the use of lighting and sound, we feel that we’re being immersed in the world of this spooky basement. It might seem like kind of ordinary without those cues to give the audience a sense of mood and place.

AJ: I would have to say the moment for me is making the phantom disappear and appear. There’s certain places where if we didn’t have lights and sound, and we were in full lights, we couldn’t create those magical moments of the phantom being there one second and gone the next second.

 

DCT: What would you say to someone who wants to become a lighting or sound designer?

AJ: I think if you’re interested in getting into theater work, contact a theater to see if there are internships or volunteer opportunities available. That’s how I got started in theater, I volunteered at community theater and found what I loved, and I continued the passion.

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Whether it’s the creepy sounds or the ominous lights, let yourself feel the good kind of goosebumps.

GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM is open now through      October 29.

Ticket on sale at dct.org.

Get GOOSEBUMPS! It’s a musical! Imagine that!

The play is just that awesome! Check out these deets.

John Maclay, co-writer of the play NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER, delivers a show full of quick-witted humor and just a little spookiness.

 

Danny Abosch, the man behind the music of FANCY NANCY: THE MUSICAL, puts his composing talents on full display with ten infectious new songs that will “fill your soul with fright and give you goosebumps in the night!”

 

Together, Maclay and Abosch, bring you an exhilarating mystery with a surprising twist.

 

 

Our story centers on two best friends starring in their school’s play – The Phantom.

 

 

The Phantom has the show’s main character, Zeke, raving, “That is so meta, man!”

 

 

The script used in the school production is supposedly cursed. What on earth could go wrong?!

 

 

A quirky theater teacher, a creepy janitor, and a jealous understudy round out GOOSEBUMPS’ endearing cast.

 

 

The experience will be frighteningly fun for all!

 

 

 

GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM
Based on the best-selling book series by R. L. Stine
Book and Lyrics by John Maclay
Music and Lyrics by Danny Abosch 

September 22 – October 29, 2017

Recommended for ages 7 and up
The haphazard detective work of Scooby Doo meets the witty banter of Glee in this frighteningly fun musical based on the beloved Goosebumps series. Brooke and Zeke are starring in their school play…The Phantom. (Yep-it’s a spoof of the Broadway musical!) When strange things start to happen during rehearsals, no one is sure if it’s a practical joke or if the school’s theater is haunted. Wear your favorite costume and bring the entire family to this silly, and only a little spooky, adventure.

 

Time to buy your tickets.  Click here now…

GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM – Produced by special arrangement with GURMAN AGENCY, LLC, New York, NY

™ & © Scholastic Inc. SCHOLASTIC, GOOSEBUMPS and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered marks of Scholastic Inc. Based on Goosebumps® Phantom of the Auditorium.

Get set! GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL single tickets go on sale tomorrow.

Here are some interesting facts about the books written by author R. L. Stine.

Stine says his writing process is “backwards” compared to most authors. He thinks of the titles first, then he writes the book. “I never try to think of ideas, I only think about titles. I try to get a good title, and the title leads me to the story.”1

R. L. Stine came up with the name “Goosebumps” randomly, while reading a TV Guide. “At the bottom of the page, there was an ad, and it said, ‘It’s goosebumps week on channel 11.’ I just stared at it. I knew it was the perfect name.”

For many children, Stine’s mildly scary books are their first step up from picture books. Their language is accessible and they tend to sidestep real-world concerns, relying on fantastical creatures, ghosts and the occasional slow-moving zombie for their scares.4

 

Goosebumps is BIG. Since Welcome to Dead House, the first Goosebumps book, was published in July 1992, the 62-book series has sold over 350 million copies worldwide in 32 languages. It is the second best-selling children’s book series next to Harry Potter!3

There are four rare Goosebumps books: Legend of the Lost Legend, Werewolf Skin, I Live in Your Basement!, and Monster Blood IV. These only exist as first editions and are known to Goosebumps fans as ‘The Unreprinted’.3

R.L. Stine thinks the first book in the series, Welcome to Dead House, is too scary for kids. Stine said, “I didn’t have the formula then, to combine funny and scary. I hadn’t really figured it out yet, and if I were redoing Welcome to Dead House, I think I’d put in some funny stuff and make it a little less intense.”

THE FUN: Get a behind the scenes look at GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM! Take a tour of DCT’s catwalk and ride the elevator down to the basement! Plus we’ll have thrilling dance lessons (hint, hint) and some up-close and personal magic. Partygoers will be among the first to make purchases from DCT’s first ever costume shop sale. Of course, the dance party at the end is a must-attend. There’ll be great food and fantastical take-home treats to boot! This party is sure to be a scream, so wear your favorite costume and prepare for a spooktacular time!

THE CAUSE: The Party benefits DCT’s Student Matinee Performance Series (SMPS), an education program that gives students access to live theater at virtually no cost to them.  Integrating theater into education has proven to increase a child’s learning receptivity.  SMPS is presented throughout the school year and summer, and each year reaches as many as 50,000 students, most of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Your support helps ensure that no child will miss the theater experience due to financial hardship.

To purchase tickets, visit dct.org/goosebumpsparty or call 214-740-0051

GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM
Based on the best-selling book series by R. L. Stine
Book and Lyrics by John Maclay
Music and Lyrics by Danny Abosch 

September 22 – October 29, 2017

Recommended for ages 7 and up
The haphazard detective work of Scooby Doo meets the witty banter of Glee in this frighteningly fun musical based on the beloved Goosebumps series. Brooke and Zeke are starring in their school play…The Phantom. (Yep-it’s a spoof of the Broadway musical!) When strange things start to happen during rehearsals, no one is sure if it’s a practical joke or if the school’s theater is haunted. Wear your favorite costume and bring the entire family to this silly, and only a little spooky, adventure.

Single tickets go on sale August 1 

Tickets and more information www.dct.org

 

Sources:

1 13 things you never knew about the “goosebumps” book series from R.L. Stine Himself, BuzzFeed

2 Goosebumps Series (62 books), Goodreads

3 Goosebumps: 10 things you didn’t know about RL Stine – in pictures, The Guardian

4 Book Talk: R.L. Stine scares boys and girls, just a bit, Reuters

Book cover images from Wikipedia

 

Get ready! Find out why kids LOVE R. L. Stine and Goosebumps?

Author R. L. Stine is a storytelling genius.

R. L. Stine is an American novelist, short story writer, television producer, screenwriter, and executive editor. His Goosebumps series of books cast a spell upon children by transforming even the most reluctant students into avid readers. 

Staff from DCT had the honor of interviewing him when he was in Dallas for the North Texas Teen Book Festival where over 10,000 young people were abuzz about his books and his presence. 

Scary or Funny?
I think humor and horror are very closely entwined. When I go to a horror movie, it always makes me laugh; I just think it’s funny. And I think it’s a very similar emotion. If you go to a baby, or you sneak up on someone, and you go, “BOO!” they’ll gasp first, right? First they’ll gasp and then they’ll laugh. Always. It’s just that visceral reaction is very close. And I don’t really want to terrify kids. Really what I’m trying to do in the Goosebumps books, I mainly just want to get them to read. I think the best way to do that is to get that mix of horror and then funny stuff.

In the beginning…
I started when I was nine years old. I would sit in my room typing, typing all day. Why did I like it so much?! I don’t know. I’d be typing little joke books and funny magazines. I’d be typing stories, and my parents didn’t understand it at all. They’d say…Weird, what are you doing? Go outside and play, what’s wrong with you? Good thing I didn’t listen to them, right?

Parental Feedback?
My books are really easy to read, the chapters are real short; it’s all reading motivation. I never get tired when parents come up to me and say, “My kid never read a book in his life, but last night I caught him under the covers with a flashlight reading one of your books. I never get tired of hearing that. It’s a wonderful thing!

I would tell the parent that the best way to get a kid to read is let them pick their own stuff. My son never read a Goosebumps book. Isn’t that awful? He never read one, he read only Garfield comics, that’s all he read, his whole childhood. I said, “Fine, read Garfield. ” Then he went off to college, and he was an English major. It’s insane, right? So I would say the best thing, if you want to really motivate them, is let them pick out their own books.

or
_____________________________________________________________________
GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM
Based on the best-selling book series by R. L. Stine
Book and Lyrics by John Maclay
Music and Lyrics by Danny AboschSeptember 22 – October 29, 2017Recommended for ages 7 and up

The haphazard detective work of Scooby Doo meets the witty banter of Glee in this frighteningly fun musical based on the beloved Goosebumps series. Brooke and Zeke are starring in their school play…The Phantom. (Yep-it’s a spoof of the Broadway musical!) When strange things start to happen during rehearsals, no one is sure if it’s a practical joke or if the school’s theater is haunted. Wear your favorite costume and bring the entire family to this silly, and only a little spooky, adventure.

GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM – Produced by special arrangement with GURMAN AGENCY, LLC, New York, NY
™ & © Scholastic Inc. SCHOLASTIC, GOOSEBUMPS and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered marks of Scholastic Inc. Based on Goosebumps® Phantom of the Auditorium. PHOTO BY: Craig Lynch

Page and Stage Storytelling: A Treasure Trove for Young Minds

Alexander T. Wolf is confronted by pigs in THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS.

The first question generally asked about a story is what happenedWho’s telling the story, however, can be just as important.

Take John Scieszka and Lane Smith’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, a book Dallas Children’s Theater performed in adaptation a few seasons ago.

“Wolf Blows It, Leaves Pigs Dead, Homeless” – The New Pork Times

This retelling of the classic tale is delivered by Alexander T. Wolf, a character you may know better as the Big Bad Wolf. From his own perspective, A. Wolf is a mild-mannered grandson attempting to make a birthday cake for his grandmother. After the pigs rudely refuse to lend him sugar for the cake, the wolf accidentally blows down their houses by sneezing (he had a cold, after all!). Obviously, the three little pigs perceived the story differently.

This retelling raises several questions related to the storyteller’s perspective: How does the choice of narrator/storyteller affect the impression given of each character? How does the narrative style impact the tone of the plot?

In addition to raising questions, narrative perspective can unlock a child’s imagination. For a young person, it can be exciting to see numerous styles of storytelling, particularly when the story is one they already know that is being told in an unfamiliar way.

At Dallas Children’s Theater, we are committed to developing young imaginations. After seeing a show in our theater, we’d love it if all families would talk about the storytellers and the plays in general. Here are just a few thoughts related to storytelling your family might consider on the ride home:

The storyteller involves others through music in MUFARO.

 

Point of View

You might remember this lesson from English class: a first-person point of view is presented from the “I” perspective (I went to the store); second person is from the “you” perspective (you went to the store); and third person is from the “they” perspective (they went to the store). In books, a third-person narrator is usually an omniscient voice – a voice separate from the story’s characters. In theater, on the other hand, things are likely not as obvious.

Our most recent production – MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS – features a storyteller who narrates the tale from a third-person perspective. This character reflects the importance of oral culture to African peoples. In most of Africa, stories have traditionally been passed down orally and involve communal participation. Traditional African storytelling can reflect not just the point of view of an individual storyteller, then, but of a whole community.

 

Page to Stage

MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS is based on John Steptoe’s book of the same name. The book has one narrator – a traditional third-person voice. Our stage adaptation, though, features a cast of people bringing the tale to life. In a book, it would be difficult to have multiple people tell a story at the same time.  In theater, it happens naturally. Helping young minds discover these differences can be beneficial as they grow in their appreciation of both books and live theater.

James and the critters encounter dangerous adventures together.

Instead of featuring only one voice in the role of storyteller, page-to-stage adaptations sometimes employ a team of narrators. DCT has explored this possibility in the past with JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and will revisit this style with THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR SHOW, which will open in January 2018 and feature multiple actor-puppeteers performing four Eric Carle stories. By reframing the narrative style of these stories, DCT offers children a chance to consider the tales through a new perspective.

It takes a village! The cast of THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR SHOW work together to tell four stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telling Your Story

Children learn to express themselves by being exposed to many perspectives and storytelling methods and uncovering the styles with which they best connect. We at DCT believe every child has something valuable and unique to contribute to society. Our stories on stage help them find their voice.

Grandmother and Granddaughter in YANA WANA’S LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET

Next season, we will proudly premiere a new show about a child finding her voice. YANA WANA’S LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET centers on a young girl who, after hearing an oral tale from her grandmother, begins connecting with her Coahuiltecan heritage. Audiences will witness the character learning the story, adapting the tale for her own school presentation, and applying the lessons of the story to her own life. We believe the play will serve as a great example of the power of storytelling to impact learning and life.

What are some of the first stories you heard and told? How might these experiences help you set in motion the stories your children will tell and remember?

DCT wants to help you cultivate your children’s relationships with storytelling.  We invite you to exercise these ideas at our shows next season. You can reserve your tickets to THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR SHOW, YANA WANA’S LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET, and next season’s other productions at dct.org.


Ryan Diller is a DCT Guest Writer. He is the former Web Editor of 1966: A JOURNAL OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, and his writing has appeared in MULTIBRIEFS and HOT PRESS. He will begin working towards his MFA in Playwriting this coming fall at the University of Calgary. 

If you’d like to know more about traditional African storytelling, visit here!

Photo Credits:

Mark Oristano – …THREE LITTLE PIGS; Karen Almond – MUFARO’S…, JAMES…; Ulises Garcia – YANA WANA’S…; …CATERPILLAR SHOW photos courtesy of Rockefeller Productions 

 

What can be learned from a play like MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS?

In the throes of day-to-day life, it can seem impossible to keep a handle on our values. Worse yet, daily encounters with defeatist messages and the mundane can make us question if our ideals make a difference at all. Theater can help offset this negative, narrow view of life by providing a warmer, large-scale lens.

Daughters and father together

Children particularly can benefit from this perspective. In the early stages of their development, children need a place not only to be entertained, but also to see the effects different types of behavior can have. The theater is a place where outlooks are cultivated, and shows like MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS give parents a chance to begin conversations about values with their children.

MUFARO relates what initially seems to be a simple story. Two sisters – one kind (Nyasha) and one selfish (Manyara) – are invited to meet the king as potential brides. Each takes a journey through a forest on her way to meet the king, encountering needy people along the way. Manyara treats these people cruelly, while Nyasha offers what little she has to them. It is revealed that the king was present in each of these people, and ultimately Nyasha is chosen for his bride, while Manyara becomes a servant in their household.

This plot teaches a clear lesson: be compassionate to everyone, for we reap what we sow. The show, however, is not a dull morality lesson. With its infectious percussion and playful humor, MUFARO exudes joy, reflecting the benefits of Nyasha’s openhearted outlook. It is this outlook that allows Nyasha to succeed in the forest. In the face of the unknown, Nyasha reacts with curiosity and compassion, embracing the new and looking for chances to help others.  Manyara, on the other hand, reacts with fear and treats other with hostile distrust.

A moment of tension between the sisters

Nyasha demonstrates how to approach day-to-day life with one’s values intact, but what of her sister? Is she merely a demonstration of how not to act? I would argue that Manyara, like so many people, has much more to her than is noticed at first glance. After all, she is ambitious, bold, imaginative, and – in her spirit of sibling competition and desire to get out of work – even relatable. Her refusal to be docile just because she is female, moreover, is an important lesson for growing women. If her energy was directed towards giving rather than the acquisition of power, she could be as admirable as her sister.

MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS is not only a fun show but also a great launching pad for conversations with your kids about values. Ask them what they thought of each daughter; what they liked and disliked about each of them; what they thought of the play’s message; how can they help people in their day-to-day interactions; and – most importantly – what did they enjoy about the show.

Nyasha finds the good in everything – even snakes!

DCT is committed to being a resource for parents teaching their children how to live in the world with others. This year, it has been our pleasure to offer a series of resources in our bookstore specifically focused on stories about practicing kindness. Below is a list of some of our available titles. Pick one or two of them up when you come see MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS on the DCT stage. Tickets at dct.org.

 

Ryan Diller is a DCT Guest Writer. He is the former Web Editor of 1966: A JOURNAL OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, and his writing has appeared in MULTIBRIEFS and HOT PRESS. He will begin working towards his MFA in Playwriting this coming fall at the University of Calgary. 

All photos credited to Karen Almond 

 

The following is a list of books that are available for sale in the DCT Store. These support materials are provided as a service to our patrons and as part of our commitment to promoting kindness.

Books about living in the world with others.

each-kindnessEach Kindness
By Jacqueline Woodson

A young girl learns the cost of bullying when she loses the opportunity to make a new friend.

 

the_giving_treeThe Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein

A tale of a tree that gives everything for a boy, and the spiritual peace brought to both through its generosity.

 

filled-a-bucketHave You Filled a Bucket Today?
By Carol McCloud

A book encouraging positive behavior via the metaphor of filling buckets.

the_hundred_dressesThe Hundred Dresses

By Eleanor Estes

A young girl is bullied because of her clothes. Her classmates learn the repercussions of their bullying when she suddenly switches schools.

 

invisible-stringThe Invisible String

By Patrice Karst

A mother’s lesson to her children about the invisible string of love connecting us all together.

 

missingpiece-big-oThe Missing Piece
Meets the Big O

By Shel Silverstein

A simple story about a character who wants to become something different.

 

one-loveOne Love

By Cedella Marley

Based on the Bob Marley classic, a young girl brings her community together to create a better neighborhood.

peaceThe Peace Book

By Todd Parr

A book about the importance of tolerance, designed for children just learning to read.

 

enemy-pieEnemy Pie

By Derek Munson

How do you get rid of your worst enemy? Become best friends! An endearing story about a boy learning to like someone once he gets to know him.

 

book_thethreequestionsThe Three Questions

By Jon J. Muth

A boy is resolved to be the best person he can be, but is not sure how.

 

smileThe Smile That Went Around the World

By Patrice Karst

A fun story about how one act of kindness can spark a chain reaction of smiles.

 

way-i-feelThe Way I Feel

By Janan Cain

A fun, colorful book of expressive illustrations that help developing kids describe their emotions.

 

Song and Dance…A Celebration of Culture

Uplifting and joyful…that’s how the play was described by someone who had the benefit of seeing DCT’s National Touring Company present MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS: AN AFRICAN TALE in Colorado a couple of months ago. I recently had the pleasure of hearing the composer, S’ankh Rasa, and the choreographer, Michelle Gibson, discuss the role theyplayed in bringing this magical production to life. Talk about a celebration of culture!

Both S-ankh and Michelle spoke about Africa in great detail; from the musical instruments to the traditional dances, to the spiritual elements, and so many of the details present in the story of Mufaro’s daughters, Manyara and Nyasha. Both S-ankh and Michelle are such large personalities that just hearing them speak had an infectious rhythm, and as they spoke of Africa, they both used the term “magical” several times, and by the end I was ready to go. At the very least, I was ready to get up and dance.

Each of them has a very specific background that ties in well to the show. S-ankh has a direct West African ancestry and travels to Africa pretty often. He knows all the traditional instruments in addition to being a prolific musician in general. When director Robyn Flatt asked him if he could create music for MUFARO, he shared that he had been reading that book to his own daughters for years and was excited to do something “truly African.”

I had the best time listening to him talk about a story so familiar to him. When I, as a blue-eyed white woman see a poster for a play like MUFARO, I’m often quick to jump to thinking it’s not for me; that I can “sit this one out.” But as I heard S-ankh talk about the relationship between the sisters and also the way he worked with the actors to ingrain the traditional instruments into their characters and their bodies, I related on so many levels – both as a parent and an actress. The story of the family is true to life with just the right amount of fantasy, and hearing about the process of preparing the actors revealed their blood, sweat, and tears devotion to this project. S-ankh even told one of his actors to sleep with his instrument. I must see this show.

Then, of course after watching Michelle, I was transfixed and quite smitten. She is a preacher’s daughter from New Orleans who moved to Dallas after Hurricane Katrina, so she has her own story to tell. She shared that she connected on such a spiritual level with MUFARO. I am not a dancer, but as she spoke, it was immediately apparent that dancing runs through her veins, and has been a part of her entire life (despite her father’s plan for her to play piano). Her friend, S-ankh, is the one who asked her to choreograph the production; she read the story of MUFARO and immediately loved it.

Both of these passionate artists spoke of the tradition of storytelling, and how important it is to humankind, and specifically how important it is in the African tradition. Then they both talked at length about the story and its lessons, as each character explores their identity and learns to support each other. They also made note of the “authentic-ness” of the story, and then of course talked about their excitement to bring this story to the stage.

I grew up in the southern United States, where women sitting on the front porch with their iced tea gossiping was a very common thing. Michelle made a comparison of that to the way women in Africa build a community around the events of the day, knowing each neighbor and sharing communal experiences similar to those she experienced in church as a preacher’s daughter.

The more they talked, the more I felt like this was a community that I could be a part of, and one that I definitely want to share with my family by bringing them to this production. Michelle talked about the “bantaba” moment. She described it as the moment when everyone enters a sacred space, and everyone is embraced, and there’s no right or wrong because everyone is a welcomed participant. That is the way acting professionals like to think of the theater.

This is a show for every family, specifically families with young children, brothers and sisters. The music will be new to most of our ears, but I’m imagining a lot of little bottoms bouncing in their seats, and I think that’s okay. It’s going to be hard not to feel this show in our bones. Those drums alone are going to penetrate our spirits, all while telling this beautiful story of a family. I can’t wait to see it.

We’re inclined to go to plays where the characters look like us, regardless of the quality of the professionals attached to the production. That’s a mistake. It’s time to look past the routine and look into the heart of the story, which honestly was hard for me to do before hearing these charming, passionate artists talking about the play, and their experience in creating this play.

See S-ankh and Michelle in action! Click their names to see a video profile.

 

 

Sherry Ward is a

DCT Contributing Writer

 

 

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MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS

June 23 – July 9.

Get your tickets at dct.org .

 

 

 

 

Meet the Critters starring in JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH

Fresh fruit invariably attracts critters – insects, arachnids, or even legless worms. When that fruit is ginormous, guess what happens to those critters? They grow! In DCT’s current production of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH however, you can’t get enough of these larger-than-life multicolored, multi-legged friends. They’re not pests, they’re best friends!

James hops aboard a giant peach with five of Roald Dahl’s most colorful characters who have without question earned their own introduction.  Drumroll please…

 

Old Green GrasshopperOld Green Grasshopper

We know all grasshoppers “sing” by rubbing their legs together, but this one can croon with the best of them, and he even plays the violin! Grasshopper serves as narrator, the voice of reason, and often keeps the other panicking bugs from losing their cool in perilous situations.

 

 

 

Ladybug

If you ever wondered where ladybugs got their name, this fashion-forward friend would show you that she’s all lady! With her hat tilted ever-so prissily, every spot in the right place, and the voice of a songbird, she keeps a careful eye on the crew as they move through their adventure. P.S. Please don’t notify songbirds about this gorgeous morsel.

 

 

 

Centipede

This guy knows how to kick up his boots, all 100 of them (actually only 48 if you ask persnickety earthworm). He’s all energy and the first to brave the outside surface of the peach, even as they bob along an unfamiliar ocean. He’s proud of his leathery feet and will try just about anything, and his voice…sounds as sweet as a peach.

 

 

Spider

This wondrous weaver is the most elegant spider you’ll ever meet, but her thread does not match her delicate demeanor. It is not only strong enough to hold this creepy-crawly group together, but is also the material that rescues the peach from circling sharks. Sounds unbelievable, I know, but you might have to see it to believe it. You’ll definitely want to shake one of her hands after the show.

 

 

Earthworm

At first you may wonder how this grump was given an exclusive seat inside the magical peach, but he (reluctantly) selflessly offers help that only he can provide when they need to summon a fleet of seagulls. This critter goes on to prove that even a blind worm with no arms or legs can be an invaluable friend.

 

 

 

There’s only one way to meet this unforgettable team, and that’s by coming to DCT’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, which runs through May 27. Even if you’ve read the book, it’s time to experience these critters in the exoskeletal flesh!

For tickets, visit dct.org.

Announcing DCT’s 2017-2018 Season!

What does home mean to you?  Is it where your heart is?  Is it wherever you are with your family? Is it in the company of some really good friends?  Is it where you were born?  Is it when you feel the most at peace within yourself?  This season, we want to invite you to make yourself at home with Dallas Children’s Theater and our season stars (Caterpillar, Charlie, Frosty, María, Mowgli, Pale, Inky, Jeremy and others) who are on their very own quest to discover what home is for them.  Experiences and memories make what we call home its own unique place – and there are no two alike!  It’s often where we lay our heads or where we set our imaginations and spirits free.  For our youngest ones, the journey is filled with a variety of great and unexpected emotions. We know your entire family will enjoy spending the season with us…finding the way home. 

 

In our season opener, GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM, stars of the school play Brooke and Zeke investigate strange occurrences during rehearsals. What do a mask, a rose, and the phrase “Home Sweet Home” have in common? Find out in this silly, and only a little spooky, adventure that will captivate your whole family. 

 

For our teens, GHOULS AND GRAVEYARDS recounts the chilling horror classics from Edgar Allan Poe, W.W. Jacobs and our own Texas ghostlore. It’ll be a perfect night for rattling everyone’s cozy sense of home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday favorites certainly provide a sense of home. The traditions we establish for our families during these times are invaluable. At DCT, we like to make sure your experience during the holidays creates lasting memories. And with three great shows, we have something for everyone!  First, our friends from the Peanuts Gang rediscover the true reason for the season in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMASThen, everyone’s beloved lonely frozen figure melts our hearts in FROSTY & FRIENDSFinally, the Lone Star Circus swings from the rafters in CIRQUE JOYEUX

 

I know many kids see home as a place to eat! In THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR SHOW, the little caterpillar chews his way through every bit of earth he can reach; but more than that, (Spoiler Alert) he creates a home that ultimately transforms him into all he is meant to be with his colorful Eric Carle wings. 

 

If your home is anything like mine, it’s full of screens! Most teens spend time with their faces in a screen, often as a way to connect, even when there are other humans right next to them. Linda Daugherty’s new Teen Scene show, SCREEN PLAY, will prompt valuable conversations about creating a balance between true human connections and these pervasive devices. 

 

Part of being a family is the heritage and culture that we share, and with DCT’s latest partnership with Cara Mía Theatre Co., we learn that home is more than a set of walls. YANA WANA’S LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET takes young María on a journey to her original home and that of her ancestors, and reminds us that everyone has a unique story to share. 

 

With our encore run of BLUE, we have fun playing, but also teaching preschoolers about acceptance and difference.  Part of making a place home is having a soft, open heart to those who are not like us. 

 

 

 

When you find children jumping from chair to couch in the living room – as children often do – we sometimes  have to remind them that the house is not a jungle. But for young Mowgli, the jungle is the home he knows. This JUNGALBOOK is not your Disney version, but rather a thrilling story of survival, coming of age, and adventure as only found in Kipling’s original stories. 

 

Finally, the swashbuckling pirate friends in HOW I BECAME A PIRATE go on an ultimate quest to protect their treasure and young Jeremy tags along.  It isn’t long before Jeremy experiences the all-too-familiar feeling of homesickness. Like him, our actors in this National Touring production will surely be glad to journey back full circle to the familiar comforts of the one and only place they call their own.

 

For information on season tickets, and about each show, please visit dct.org. We look forward to welcoming you to your home away from home…Dallas Children’s Theater.

 

 

IMAGE CREDITS:
GOOSEBUMPS THE MUSICAL: PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM – Produced by special arrangement with GURMAN AGENCY, LLC, New York, NY – ™ & © Scholastic Inc. SCHOLASTIC, GOOSEBUMPS and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered marks of Scholastic Inc. Based on Goosebumps® Phantom of the Auditorium. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS – Artwork Peanuts(c) 2015 Peanuts Worldwide LLC. All Rights Reserved. All other images © 2016 Dallas Children’s Theater

Director Artie Olaisen tells a peach of a story!

 

 

 

 

Director Artie Olaisen talks about the genuine peach: storytelling!

Describe JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH from your perspective.

It’s such a well-known story! James dreamed of a world beyond​. He held on to that dream no matter how hard others tried to suppress it. And, when he least expected it, when he thought all was lost, the world came to him in a most magical and glorious way! It’s very sweet!

Give me 3 words to describe JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH.

Fantastical! ​Whimsical! Fun! 

What do you like most about JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH?

I like stories about finding the hero within.  It’s the basis for so many stories and for good reason. We need to constantly be reminded that we need not be imprisoned by our circumstances​. There is a great, big, wonderful world out there, and we need to be engaged with it!

What experience are you trying to create for audiences viewing JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH?

I hope to meet their expectations of this well-known story with performances that evoke feeling and visuals that inspire, delight & awe!​ A production full of “marvelous things!” 

What is it like being a director?

It’s rather like being a painter or a conductor.  You have a vision or idea in your head that you must get out and bring dimension to. You must communicate and create the sound of it, the color of it, the rhythm of it.  I call it “the movie in my mind.” You communicate these ideas to other artists, your collaborators, the actors and designers, and, together, you bring it to life! ​It’s very satisfying when it all comes to fruition! 

How have you seen theater change someone’s life? 

I’ve seen the power of theater to lift spirits, to connect people through shared experiences of feeling and empathy and laughter. We mustn’t forget joy and laughter! The world is in constant need of that!​ 

Why are you interested in children’s theater?

Well, basically, I’m interested in theater period​; in storytelling. It just so happens that our audiences are youth and families. I grew up in a very small house with a very small fenced-in backyard among rows of houses that all looked alike​. I was a dreamer. I dreamed of castles and ruins and jungles and deserts and exotic faraway places. I wanted to get out of that backyard. Theater provided that escape for me. The chance to be someone else and be someplace else! And, like James, though much later in life, the world and faraway destinations finally opened up to me! 

Describe a memorable moment you’ve had at DCT.

Some of my very favorite and most artistically-satisfying production experiences have been TUCK EVERLASTING, A WRINKLE IN TIME, THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, and, most recently, THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE​.

 

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH runs from May 5 – 27, 2017. For tickets, go to dct.org.