Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

The Case for Junie B.

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My husband teaches elementary school theater – kindergarten through fourth grade. I’ve been privy to some “behind the scenes” conversations about kids, and the one thing I’ve learned from him is that they are ALL so very different. As DCT prepares for JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK, I think about all the kindergarteners I know, and she is just like them – very different.

Kindergarten is like the adolescence of childhood in that it’s a big transition from being a baby to being a kid. Your brain is in overdrive as it takes in information from every direction, and Junie B. is smart and confident, and eager to use her new information as soon as possible. She doesn’t always think things through before she acts on them, but that’s part of being a kid that just finished being a preschooler. She’s a work in progress.

In oKA_053ur JUNIE B. play, Junie B. has her favorite pair of black fuzzy mittens taken, and her first reaction is not ideal. How nice have you been when you find your phone or favorite coffee mug suddenly gone? It hurts, and it makes you mad, and kids don’t always know what to do with anger; especially a kid like Junie B. who marches to her own beat. She summons enough big-girl responsibility to check the lost and found, and when she doesn’t find her mittens, she decides to “find” a cool, flashy pen that someone else lost. She sees it as poetic justice. Here begins the journey of the lesson she must learn.

One of the things I hear when my husband and his colleagues are talking about kids is, “She’s got a MOUTH on her!” This could mean many things. Some of the kids just outright cuss like sailors, but more often than not it’s about back-talk. I’ll be frank, Junie B. is sassy sometimes, and her mouth often works faster than her brain. This is when we have to be reminded of how young children KA_116learn vocabulary. I go into a kindergarten classroom and everything is labeled. Chair.Table.Desk.Door. You get the idea.

The elements that aren’t labeled are feelings, concepts, ideas; the things that are inside that we can’t see. These things are more difficult to communicate, especially when our vocabulary is new and limited. This is when an eager, outspoken kid like Junie B. reaches for the newly-acquired vocabulary words she knows. They don’t always fit, but again, Junie B. is a bit of a square peg.

The cool thing about Junie B. is she doesn’t mind a bit. She’s fine with being different, and that’s one of the best lessons we can learn from her. She surrounds herself with colorful, multi-faceted friends who are as different as she is, and they remind us how balanced our Junie B. really is. If we could all have non-judging friends like Junie B.!KA_099

She has a lot to learn, as all five and six-year-olds do, and our kids will have so much fun watching her make mistakes. My kids will sneak a peek at me while they’re laughing to see if I just noticed what she said and if it’s okay that they laughed. I’ll smile at them. Then we’ll have a great conversation about how she fixed her mistakes, and how we have to think before we act and even think before we speak, because words and attitudes are important. I think Junie B. can teach this to our kids much more powerfully than a lecture on behavior.

JUNIE B. JONEjuniebS IS NOT A CROOK. I believe that. I believe she isn’t a crook. She’s a young kid on the road to discovering the recipe that is her life and who she is.  As parents and onlookers, let’s remember to do what we can to give them the freedom they need to ultimately get it right.  Oh yeah, JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK is also the name of our show, running January 20 – February 26. You’ll have to see the show to find out what happens with the mittens and the pen. Get your tickets today at dct.org.

Written by Sherry Ward.

A Great Resolution for 2017:  Helping Children Learn to Get Along

shery-and-sonsA holiday break is always a good time to do some reading, so I got some books from the DCT Store to read with my boys. As parents, we can always grow from seeing things from a child’s perspective, especially when it is they that we ultimately want to have benefit from whatever life lesson we are trying to advance.  I was surprised and thrilled by how several of the books available for sale in the DCT Store helped me communicate with my child about a recent situation.

My eleven-year-old red-head had a really hard time last year with a boy who insisted on calling him “Ginger.” My red-head has autism, so he wasn’t totally equipped for how to deal with that, and it turns out they wouldn’t let me just come to school with him every day to make sure no one bothered him.enemy-pie

We tried to refrain from using the word “bully” like it was a bad word, and as it turns out, that fifth-grader that was giving my son such a hard time was having his own issues of acceptance and was quite withdrawn when he wasn’t with his small circle of friends. It’s hard to communicate all the complexities of acceptance to any kid, but these books helped me, and I think there were some golden nuggets that permeated as we read together.

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Of course they loved the book Enemy Pie, because it was all about a boy who became friends with a new neighbor (his one and only enemy) by spending the whole day with him, culminating in a feast of “enemy pie.” We then read We All Sing with the Same Voice. It explored all of our differences, whether cultural, regarding the makeup of our family, or the color or our hair and skin, with the resounding message that we all sing with the same voice. Both of these books showed that we are so much more than our differences, and that (just like my son and his “enemy,”) there are always more things in common.

DCT has two shows this season that bring to life in a child-friendly way how we can best deal with differences. JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK is about Junie B.’s journey of conscience when she tries to right a wrong by taking something that didn’t belong to her. She thought this would make her feel maxresdefaultbetter after having a pair of her favorite mittens go missing.  You’ll have to make plans to see the play or pick up the book to see how the story ends.

As I reflect on Junie B.’s style and her own circle of friends as revealed in both the book and the play, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the reasons she is so misunderstood is because she dares to be different in the search for her own identity.  Junie B. likes to thoroughly exercise her newly-acquired vocabulary, which sometimes makes adults and friends question her use of proper English. Like we all do with a new pair of shoes, seems we all ought to be willing to just let her give these new words a trial run however strange they may sound.  each-kindnessAs the author says, “let’s remember…she’s five.”  By the same token, we could be a little more patient with the differences of others in general.  Take a moment to offer the benefit of the doubt with regard to why something was said or done before we react. Even at her young age, what I love about Junie is her melting pot of friends. I think Junie B. could teach us all a lesson in acceptance when you look at her entourage of friends who are all very different from her.  I am impressed by how she celebrates what is unique in each of these friends without ever belittling them. I think it makes her a better person, too.

the_hundred_dressesThe other books we (well, that I read) were a little more intense. Each Kindness and The Hundred Dresses were both about girls who received outright ridicule at school for the way they dressed. Their clothes were old, used or out of season, and they were not accepted by their classmates. In the end, there was an important lesson, which I don’t want to fully give away.  Let’s just say they both reminded me of the importance of not underestimating peers.  One never knows what someone else’s life circumstances might be. The key message is that you don’t always get a second chance to be kind to someone. As a teacher wisely shared, the drop of a pebble of kindness ripples into the world infinitely.

It’s never too early to learn lessons of acceptance and difference. This spring, DCT brings the play BLUE to the preschool audience.  The play has the simple lesson of accepting something new and different and finding the beauty in it. Pale Blue and Inky Blue have to deal with the unexpected entrance of Red Sock! Of course this is a fun, simple way to teach one of the most important lessons of diversity and acceptance to the smallest audience members.blue

From the shows that go on our stages to the resources that are provided to support families, DCT wants to do its part to help parents and children value the unique and precious differences in each other. JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK by Allison Gregory runs from January 20 – February 26, 2017 for ages 5 and up. BLUE by Annie Cusick Wood runs from April 21 – May 7, 2017 for toddlers and their families.

I believe we will extend an invitation to my son’s “enemy number one” to join us at the theater and spend the day with us. I can’t think of a better way for both of them to get a new best friend. I hope you’ll join us.

Written by Sherry Ward.

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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_tree The 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.

DCT Did You Know? All About the Peanuts Gang and the timeless Nutcracker

How many people can say that they know as much about the Peanuts Gang as Charles Schulz? Have you ever been stifled about a question where the answer should seem obvious like the origins of The Nutcracker?  Who deserves to be the person in the know about these things?  You! That’s who! Well…matching up to the iconic creators, Charles Schulz or Peter Tchaikovsky, might be a stretch, but with these deets, you’ll be sitting pretty at a Peanuts- or nutcracker-themed trivia night for sure! Read on to learn eight random things about the Peanuts Gang and six need-to-know facts about the Nutcracker.

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All about A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS:

  • In all the comic strips (17,897 total), Charlie Brown only successfully kicks the football once. Charlie Brown loves to kick a football, but Lucy is always playing jokes on him. She generously offers to hold the football for him and then pulls it away at the last second every time! Once—just once—Charlie Brown manages to kick a ball that Schroeder held for him.1, 2
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas is the second longest-running Christmas special on US network television? The special first aired on December 9, 1965, one year after Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.3

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  • Linus’s blanket is a great toy and source of exercise for Snoopy. He likes to grab on to one of the corners of the blanket—and start running while poor Linus is holding on to the other end for dear life.2
  • Linus didn’t speak in the early years of the cartoon. He first appeared as Lucy’s blanket-wielding brother in 1952. Even though he didn’t speak until 1954, he still emerged as one of the more complex characters in the Peanuts Gang.4, 5
  • Charles Schulz’s lifelong ambition was to be a cartoonist. When he was 15, he published his first drawing: a picture of his dog. His black and white dog, Spike, was later the inspiration for Snoopy.6

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  • While it’s widely known that Beethoven is his idol, you may not believe that Schroeder thinks Beethoven was the first U.S. President. And that Beethoven’s birthday should be a national holiday.2
  • CBS executives didn’t love “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at first. They didn’t like that real children voiced the characters, or that religion was a major theme. The special went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program in 1966.1, 7
  • One day before his final Sunday comic strip aired, Charles Schulz passed away. It was his wish that no one else could take over the comic strip he’d drawn for nearly half a century. In all, there were 17,897 comic strips: 15,391 dailies and 2,506 Sunday strips.6
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All about THE NUTCRACKER:

  • The earliest known nutcrackers have been identified by archaeologists as pitted stones used to crack nuts between 4,000 and 8,000 years ago.8
  • According to Guinness World Records, the largest nutcracker measures 33 feet 1 inch high, and was made in Germany in 2008.8

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  • German legend states that nutcrackers bring good luck to your family and protect your home.8
  • Many GI’s who were stationed in Germany during World War II visited open air markets called “Kristkrinä!e Marktets.” They brought home nutcrackers as figures of power and protection to their families and loved ones.9, 10

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  • The first American production of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1892 ballet The Nutcracker premiered in 1940. Its popularity was due in part to those same GI’s returning from the war with souvenirs in hand.10
  • In Leavenworth, Washington there is a Nutcracker Museum, which has more than 4,000 nutcracker figurines on display!11

So if you know any trivia aficionados, share this blog! And hey—maybe the two of you can make two dates: one for a trivia party and one to see these shows at DCT.

 

This holiday season, we are thankful that so many patrons have already purchased their tickets to see A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and THE NUTCRACKER. In fact, so many have bought tickets that we are SOLD OUT! Stay tuned to our social media channels and subscribe to our e-newsletter so that you can be among the first to hear about next year’s holiday shows!

 

Charlie Brown Sources
1 – 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Charlie Brown on Huffington Post
2 – Meet the Peanuts Gang! With fun facts, trivia, comics, and more! by Charles M. Schulz
3 – A Charlie Brown Christmas Trivia on IMDb
4 – Good Grief! 18 Beloved Facts About ‘Peanuts’ on Mental Floss
5 – The Complete Peanuts 1953-1954 on Fantagraphics
6 – 9 Things You Might Not Know About “Peanuts” on History
7 – Emmys website

Nutcracker Sources
8 – Top 10 facts about The Nutcracker on The Daily Express
9 – The History of Nutcrackers on Magic of Nutcrackers
10 – Why Fancy Nutcrackers Don’t Actually Crack Nuts on National Geographic
11 – In a Nutshell A brief history of nutcrackers. On Slate

 

 

Steph Garrett is a Doggone Cute and Good Actress!

DFW actress Steph Garrett was most recently seen in the lovable role of JoJo in SEUSSICAL . While she played a Who Boy and ultimately the hero of that production, Steph is building quite a list of dog roles at DCT, and she is now appearing as Snoopy in DCT’s production of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. We visited with Steph about all her dog roles at DCT, including Snoopy.

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What are all the dog characters you have played at DCT?

I played Blue Dog in GO, DOG. GO!, Lucy (among many other characters) in THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, and now Snoopy in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.

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Steph Garrett, right, as Blue Dog.

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Garrett, left, as Lucy the dog in THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE.

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Garrett as Snoopy, the loveable beagle in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.

How do you prepare, both physically and in terms of character development for these roles?

Whenever I play an animal, I observe that animal either in its natural habitat or even just on YouTube. I pay attention to the way that animal moves and the sounds it makes. There are so many breeds of dogs, so I first need to decide what type of dog I’m playing, and then determine the defining characteristics of that dog. 

Snoopy is, of course a well-known character, so how is your doggone-good-blog-photopreparation different for this role?

I’m certainly referencing real-life beagles; however, the Peanuts specials are all I really need. I’ve watched virtually every one over and over again and have paid close attention to the different stances and sounds Snoopy makes. Obviously, I’m a real person and not a cartoon so I am doing my best to preserve the essence of Snoopy’s sounds and movements. Truly, it’s an honor to bring such an iconic character to life!

What excites you the most about the DCT production of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS?

 At the start of the show, I’m excited for the live band to play, the lights to come up, and for our audiences to be swept away into an interactive winter wonderland. The set, props, costumes, lights, sounds, and projections for this show are positively some of the best in DFW. Our incredible director has created (and recreated) some hilarious moments with each of the Peanuts characters, and we’re so excited to share it with our audiences. 

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is a heartwarming show. I think most adults will appreciate the nostalgia of this theatrical experience, and the children will delight in the magic of seeing Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and all his friends come to life.

ka_067-blogAnything else you want to share?

Cwia&#$@#qtso&#!!!!!!! (That’s Snoopy talk for “Enjoy the show!!!!!!!”)

I must admit, I’m a little jealous that for research Steph has been watching cute YouTube dogs and Peanuts specials, but every time I’ve seen her perform it’s obvious she takes her work very seriously. When my dog gets excited, she runs around in circles until finally she stops, looks at me and just wags her tail. Though I am not a dog, I have to say, that’s what I felt like doing after seeing Steph’s performance. Without question, seeing her recreate Snoopy will make you howl!

 

RUDOLPH 11.18X17.8 SITTING.eps

unnamedTickets still available for THE NUTCRACKER on December 17, 18, 20, and 21. Select availability for A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS on December 20 and 21. Both shows run now through December 21.

For tickets, call the Box Office at 214-740-0051 or go to dct.org.

 

Written by Sherry Ward.

You’re A Good Man, Doug Miller!

Doug Miller is a quadruple threat: a director, actor, choreographer, and teacher. During DCT’s 2016-2017 season, not only is he teaching all classes in the DCT Musical Theater Conservatory, he’s directing the DFW professional premiere of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, based on the beloved television special. We recently sat down with Doug to discuss the “peanuts” and bolts of why he does what he does.

lj105471-doug-charlielj105472Q: Describe the TV version of A Charlie Brown Christmas from your perspective.

A: The Emmy Award-winning A Charlie Brown Christmas television special has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. Last December was actually the 50th Anniversary of the special. I believe this story has withstood the test of time because of its many messages. Not only does the story deal with the real meaning of Christmas versus the commercialism of this holiday, but it also explores the true friendship between these fun characters. I think the story will also transfer well to the [DCT] stage because it’s about a group of kids putting on a show.

Q: Give me 3 words to describe A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.

A: Nostalgic, relevant, entertaining.

Q: What do you like most about the show?

A: It’s a classic, and it gets you into the holiday spirit.

Q: What experience are you trying to create for audiences coming to see A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS on stage?

A: It’s my job to stay true to the story that folks have enjoyed for 50 years. I want to bring the cartoon to life.

Q: What is it like being a director?

A: Being a director is like being a juggler. You have many balls in the air and it’s your job to keep things precise and always moving to reach the finish line. The balls are your actors, the script, the technical elements, the morale, and the leadership. My philosophy is that a good director always pays attention to detail, is prepared, has to earn the respect of his actors and production team, is the leader, and is a teacher at the same time.

director-series-doug-miller-class Q: How have you seen theater change someone’s life?

A: Not only am I a director, actor, and choreographer, but I am also the Director of Musical Theater at DCT. I teach all 10 of our classes in the DCT Musical Theater Conservatory. I have been a teacher for almost 20 years, and I have first hand seen how acting, singing, and dancing has changed the course of young lives. It’s amazing when my former or current students say that they feel their true passion for life began when they found the arts. I’ve had many students and actors that I have directed in a show go on to be cast in Broadway shows, in television series, dance with ballet companies, and be cast in movies. The greatest satisfaction a teacher or director can have is when their students and performers start to “get it.” Nothing compares to seeing those light bulb moments.

Q: Why are you interested in children’s theater?

A: I feel that working with children and young adults is my calling. I enjoy directing and teaching “our future.”

Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had at DCT.

A: There are so many…The moment I am most proud of is developing a Musical Theater curriculum for the DCT Academy. Last fall we didn’t know if there was a need for this program at DCT. When classes started, every musical theater class was full and many had waiting lists. I would say that this was a program that DCT, and the kids of DFW, really needed.

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Q: What’s your favorite children’s story?
A: I have to say that the two children’s stories that were most intriguing to me when I was a child, and still today, were the tales of Alice in Wonderland and James and the Giant Peach. I have always liked adventure stories with wild, whimsical characters. Whether it was Dorothy’s adventures in Oz or Lucy visiting Narnia, these stories with interesting, bizarre characters on crazy adventures have always been my favorite. C.S. Lewis had such a vivid imagination. His books make it very easy for readers to escape into his stories.

Just like Charlie Brown discovers the true meaning of Christmas, Doug Miller has been able to help his students better discover aspects of themselves through theater and performance. During this holiday season, we hope you’ll come see his work and find your own happiness and joy at a performance of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.

 

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS runs on the DCT mainstage from November 18-December 21, 2016. Tickets on sale now. Visit dct.org to plan your trip to the theater!

 

cbphoto_by_karen_almondA CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
by Charles M. Schulz
Based on the television special by Bill Melendez
and Lee Mendelson
Stage Adaptation by Eric Schaeffer
By Special Arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson
November 18 – December 21, 2016. Recommended for ages 5 and up

It’s a SWEATER, Charlie Brown!

Good grief! There are so many stitches in the one and only hand-knitted sweater made for actor Christopher Curtis who plays Charlie Brown at DCT this winter. Elaine Liner, beloved DFW writer, actor, and knitting queen created the original sweater for our Charlie Brown and as DCT Costume Designer Lyle Huchton said, Elaine “made a designer’s dream come true!”

elaine-sweaterElaine’s knitting has gained her some international attention as she premiered her one-woman show SWEATER CURSE: A YARN ABOUT LOVE to the Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe in 2013 and has taken the show back several times since, as it is always an audience favorite. SWEATER CURSE is Elaine’s one-act solo comedy about unraveled sweaters, knitting and knotty romances. She has also performed it locally and taken it on the road to San Antonio, New Orleans, and wherever her yarn feels called.  And her shows are fun offstage too because her audiences are encouraged to bring their own needlework so their hands can be kept busy throughout her performance.  Talk about interactive theater!

Flying without a pattern this time, Elaine borrowed one of Christopher’s sweaters as a fit reference.When you see the show, you will see that she nailed (ahem knitted), the PERFECT fit! After testing some color swatches to get just the right shades, she began her quest. It took Elaine 2-3 weeks and over 100 hours of knitting and sewing before she finally announced to her Facebook friends on November 11 that it was on its way to DCT!

charlie-brown-sweater-in-progress-photo-by-elaine-linerWhat’s funny to me is how many of Elaine’s friends, when they first saw the photo of the finished product quickly asked, “WHERE did you get THAT?” It struck me funny because they obviously didn’t read her post, and also because I had no idea that Charlie Brown was such an icon for fashion! Women all over DFW wanted one just like it!

Costume designer Lyle Huchton explains, “I knew from the beginning that I wanted the iconic Charlie Brown shirt made into a sweater and after asking around I could find no one who would commit to doing it. I knew that Elaine knitted, although she and I had never met, so I reached out to her to see if she was interested or if she knew someone who might be. I was thrilled when she agreed to do it.ka_381

“Not only am I over the top about how great it turned out, it was a pleasure to get to know her and work with her on this special project. I am looking forward to any future knitting projects that may come up so we can work together again.”

I know I was over the top when I saw A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. Hopefully you will be too, and you may even find yourself wanting a handmade Charlie Brown sweater from Elaine Liner! If you do, get this, Elaine has agreed to knit one more to support the cause of great productions for children via a DCT auction. Just go to dct.org/bid and put your name in the hat…or in this case, the sweater!

 

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ THE NUTCRACKER run through December 21.

Written by Sherry Ward.

Highly Recommended:  A fun, family, festive day at Dallas Children’s Theater(DCT)

As told by Mom Blogger Sherry Ward

chris-and-adam-with-tix-to-the-nutcracker-please-crop-out-fire-extinguisherMy family and I were able to spend an unforgettable day kicking off the holidays at DCT by attending both holiday productions! Each show is about an hour in length which made for a perfect “mixed nuts” outing with one show featuring both the Peanuts Gang and the other, the timeless Nutcracker.  We started off with THE NUTCRACKER. As we walked into the lobby, we were immediately greeted by a ten-foot tall Nutcracker who asked my boys, Chris (11) and Adam (7) to give him a high five. They were immediately ready for some fun!

We went into the Robyn Flatt Studio Theater to take our seats for THE NUTCRACKER. Chris was a little apprehensive about how close we were to the stage, so his Granny Pat took him out to see the display cases with the puppets so he would know they were not going to be frighteningly large. Of course once the lights go down, they look so much larger due to the magic of the black theater.

The laughter started right off. chris-and-adam-meet-the-puppets-and-the-puppeteersThis was my first time to see Kathy Burks’ Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ adaptation of THE NUTCRACKER, and I must admit that as an adult, I was drawn in by all of the surprises. I wasn’t prepared for how much physical humor could be created using puppets! The boys also loved the voices. They both laughed out loud throughout, especially during the battles with the Mouse King. I don’t want to give too much away, but we all loved the show and were so excited to meet the puppets in the lobby afterwards.

Adam is due to go see THE NUTCRACKER ballet on a field trip later this month, and not only did he get a short (and funny) lesson on the writing of the ballet (as expressed by puppet Tchaikovsky himself), but he also got a condensed and super-kid-friendly puppet version that will help him follow the ballet so much better!

the-ward-family-with-santa-at-dctBefore the production of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, we took some time to visit Santa in the lobby. He was as kind and jolly as you would expect of Santa, and Adam had plenty of time to give him an exhaustive list, including what he wanted to eat for Christmas dinner! Santa got him giggling just by being his charming self. Santa was gracious enough to let me sit on his lap as well!

Our day continued with A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. I went in very familiar with the TV special, but the boys were experiencing it for the first time. We had fallen in love with a couple of the actors, Christopher Curtis and Steph Garrett when we saw SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL earlier this fall, but they wergranny-pat-and-adam-reading-about-the-actors-in-the-programe almost too cute to handle in this production. Charlie Brown was round-headed perfection, and we were sitting where we could see him up close as he pondered the meaning of Christmas.

All of us were smiling from beginning to end with several hearty laughs throughout. It was as if I were watching the Christmas special come to life before my eyes, and for the boys, it was personifying Christmas and giving it meaning in a way they could understand.

After the show, Adam went directly to Charlie Brown’s line and was thrilled to adam-meets-charlie-brownmeet him in person. It was the best day we could imagine.  From nutcrackers to peanuts, our day of mixed nuts was a perfect way to start off our holiday season. We had plenty of time for our two-show day, with no rushing from one to another. In the midst of the hurried holiday season, I encourage everyone to take a day to relax with your family and spend time creating great memories at the theater. Of course, now my sons are expecting me to get the tree up right away, so be forewarned… DCT knows how to create the holiday spirit!

Note:  The tallest Nutcracker a child has ever seen and Santa made a special appearance November 18 – November 27. They will return on Tuesday, December 20 and Wednesday, December 21.  Buy your tickets now!

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KATHY BURKS THEATRE OF PUPPETRY ARTS’

THE NUTCRACKER
Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Adapted for the stage by B. Wolf

Now – December 21, 2016
Recommended for ages 4 and up

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RUDOLPH 11.18X17.8 SITTING.epsA CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
by Charles M. Schulz
Based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson
Stage Adaptation by Eric Schaeffer
By Special Arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson

Now – December 21, 2016
Recommended for ages 5 and up

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Meet the Puppeteers – Kathy, Bea, Becky, and Trish

We’re continuing our celebration of the 20th anniversary since the first time Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts (KBTPA) performed its acclaimed interpretation of The Nutcracker at DCT. These four incredibly talented artists fondly look back at their favorite Nutcracker memories.

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Kathy Burks – with Tchaikovsky and The Little Puppeteer (from THE NUTCRACKER)

What influenced KBTPA’s unique interpretation of The Nutcracker?

“… I really enjoyed working with Bea [Wolf, the playwright and music director] to put THE NUTCRACKER together to be able to remind people who Tchaikovsky was, and still is to all of us. He’s wonderful…We just interpreted the music in a way that might be fun for puppets to do and for those people that are watching it. So it’s a brand new way of hearing the music and interpreting the music and relating it in a slightly different way.”

bea_wolf

Bea Wolf – with Musical Sheets (from The Nutcracker)

As a musician yourself, what part of the show do you particularly enjoy?

“One thing that stands out is the prologue, which tells about how Tchaikovsky wrote the ballet.  One of our characters, The Little Puppeteer, interrupts and asks “just how long do you intend to speak to Tchaikovsky?” and two of my musician friends who were in the audience just fell out laughing. That was so satisfying to me because musicians especially appreciate that kind of thing.”

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Becky Burks Keenan – with Piglet and King (from THE FROG PRINCE)

What is one of your most memorable audience reactions to the show?

“The funniest reaction I got, and I enjoyed doing it so much, was the poodle’s feet. He starts out very graceful and slow, and then there’s a certain point in the music where he twiddles and he twiddles really fast across the stage. That always gets a big laugh, so I enjoyed doing that part. The kids always talked about the poodle and his feet, so I was able to say, “I did the feet!””

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Trish Long – with Frog (from The FROG PRINCE)

What else should audiences know ahead of time before they come see the show?

“The neat thing to me is that we frequently still have so many generations come back, and they meet us in the lobby and they’ll say, “My mother brought me, [and now] I’m bringing my daughter.” Or the grandmother will be there. The grandmother will say, “I brought my daughter. Now she’s bringing her daughter, my granddaughter.” That’s the really neat part of it, people should be prepared to make it a family tradition.”

 

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nutcracker

KATHY BURKS THEATRE OF PUPPETRY ARTS’

THE NUTCRACKER

Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Adapted for the stage by B. Wolf

November 18 – December 21, 2016

Recommended for ages 4 and up

 

No holiday season is complete without Tchaikovsky’s THE NUTCRACKER! This unique and acclaimed puppet interpretation brings the classic story to life with innovative passion and artistry. According to The Dallas Morning News, this NUTCRACKER “…out-Fantasia’s Walt Disney’s classic film.” DFW audiences love holiday traditions, and that is why 2016 marks 20 years of this most requested title. It’s a perfect introduction to classical music, so make a date to bring your children!

Buy Tickets Now

 

 

 

Images by Craig Lynch

THE NUTCRACKER is produced by special arrangement with the playwright.

 

Meet the Puppeteers – Sally, Doug, and Ziggy starring in THE NUTCRACKER

This holiday season, we’re proudly celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first time Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts (KBTPA) performed its acclaimed, unique interpretation of The Nutcracker at DCT. Meet the puppeteers who magically transform the Studio Theater into the Land of the Sweets with incredible skill and artistry. 

sally

Sally Fiorello – with Medoro the dancing poodle, Harlequin, and Clara

What are some of your favorite memories of KBTPA’s THE NUTCRACKER over the past 20 years?

“There are young people who saw this show when we first did it…and they have continued to come back with their families to see it year after year… And I have watched them grow, and I have watched them come up and say how much they loved the show and they look forward to seeing it every time we do it. And now…they want to introduce the Nutcracker that we do to their kids. And whenever that happens, I’m always reminded of how special it is.”

doug

Doug Burks – with Herr Drosselmeier and Genie

What audience reactions stand out to you?

“What I remember about the audience is mostly just the wonder and the awe of it all, especially in the second half of the show when we go to the Land of the Sweets and all that music, all that familiar music, and just to hear their reactions, especially the big school groups that come in. Just as a whole, they just become one fascinated body of people all reacting simultaneously; that’s a really rewarding thing to hear.”

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Ziggy Renner – Little Puppeteer and The Nutcracker

What do you most look forward to in performing the show again this year?

“We all at least to some extent have seen the ballet or seen parts of the ballet or we know the music because we hear it so much during the holiday season. It’s just ingrained in the back of our heads that when you hear this song, you have an image. And the image is changed with this [show], to a certain extent…It’s so well done, and just different. And to get to do the whole thing is pretty exciting.”

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nutcracker

KATHY BURKS THEATRE OF PUPPETRY ARTS’

THE NUTCRACKER

Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Adapted for the stage by B. Wolf

November 18 – December 21, 2016

Recommended for ages 4 and up

 

No holiday season is complete without Tchaikovsky’s THE NUTCRACKER! This unique and acclaimed puppet interpretation brings the classic story to life with innovative passion and artistry. According to The Dallas Morning News, this NUTCRACKER “…out-Fantasia’s Walt Disney’s classic film.” DFW audiences love holiday traditions, and that is why 2016 marks 20 years of this most requested title. It’s a perfect introduction to classical music, so make a date to bring your children!

Buy Tickets Now

THE NUTCRACKER is produced by special arrangement with the playwright.

 

A Sensory Show You Won’t Want to Miss featuring The Cat in the Hat, JoJo, Horton and Palmer…

Imagine for a second, that you’re a parent to a brand new baby. But your excitement and joy are overcome by worry and concern, because your beautiful baby was born at only 24 weeks, weighs only 1 lb 4 oz, and is on life support. You have numerous surgeries and procedures ahead of you, and all that leads to sensory challenges and sensitivities for the rest of your baby’s life.For Palmer and his mother, Lisa Lee, this is reality. But his sensitivities to loud noises and bright lights aren’t stopping Palmer from anything.

1As a young boy, Palmer and his mother were Ambassadors for March of Dimes. They traveled around Texas sharing his story and his struggles to help raise awareness for the research and medical advances that helped save his life. Lisa would tell his story, and then bring him up on stage so the audience could see how well he was doing. “His first appearance was at 1 ½ years old. Once he had the microphone, he didn’t want to put it down. He even clapped along with the audience back then!” said Lee.

At 3-years-old, Palmer began memorizing Dr. Seuss’s books, and even dressed up as The Cat in the Hat for Halloween when he was 8. “He would dress up in costume and act out different scenes from [Dr. Seuss’s] books with his Seuss stuffed animals,” said Lee. “Drama is his favorite class in school.” Now as a 16-year-old student at Oak Hill Academy, Palmer has participated in the talent show and school plays for the past nine years.

Lee heard about DCT as a great place for kids to see musicals from her brother and nephew. While they were attending a traditional show, Lee heard about the sensory-friendly shows. “Palmer always wore headphones to the movies when he wa2s younger to block out the excessive noise, but with the sensory-friendly shows at DCT, that hasn’t been an issue because they keep the sound levels lower than regular performances,” Lee said. Over the years, they have attended 15 shows at DCT, including five sensory-friendly performances.

The family was ecstatic when they learned that DCT would begin offering Academy classes for youth with autism, Down syndrome, sensory processing disorders, and other special needs. During the summer of 2016, Palmer and 16 other students enrolled in the Blue Pegasus Players program. Six professional teaching artists guided the students through exercises designed to enhance individual creativity and increase their understanding of the elements of theater.

“It’s been so great for Palmer to be a part of these drama classes. Feeling included is priceless. Sometimes when you have learning differences or sensory issues, you don’t fit in a traditional class, so this has helped his confidence and given him a ch3ance to do something he loves with his peers,” said Lee.

At the end of the summer, Academy students put on a showcase performance for parents, and Palmer chose to sing a song from SEUSSICAL™—which happens to be the first show in DCT’s 2016-2017 lineup. Nancy Schaeffer is the director of that show, and the Education Director at DCT, and saw an opportunity to create a different kind of theater magic.

Rehearsal time is precious for actors, but Schaeffer knew the SEUSS cast being treated to an exclusive special performance from Palmer was a moment not to be missed. So, she invited him to sing after a rehearsal in mid September. The cast, including two of Palmer’s teachers from summer classes, looked on and listened in awe.

Palmer touts the sensory-friendly offerings at DCT, saying “I have always loved coming to the shows at DCT and the sensory shows make it more comfortable for me. And now I love being in drama classes at DCT too and getting to be on stage!”

Palmer will return to the DCT stage on October 15, after the sensory-friendly performance to sing his song for the audience.

Learn more about DCT’s sensory-friendly shows here and sensory classes here.