Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

The Lessons in Planting Seeds and Farming for Survival…

When families decide to grow their own food, they are investing in the health and wellness of those they love the most. Parents can involve children in that process by planting seeds with them, and looking after the seeds as they grow tall and strong. Through the process of nurturing a seed and watching it grow, children experience firsthand the value of hard work and providing necessities, like food, for their family.

In Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, Jack and his mother fall upon tough times; there is no hay to feed their cow, Milky White, and no way for her to produce milk for them to sell in the market. As a result, the mother makes the difficult decision that they must sell her. Mother knows that the money they earn from selling Milky White will provide them with enough for food and medicine for a period of time.

As parents do, Jack’s mother made a sacrifice that wasn’t easy, but it was for the benefit of her family. When Jack returns home soon after leaving to sell Milky White, his mother is skeptical about what he is returning with…and for good reason! Parents want to make sure their children are well cared for, that they have everything they could ever want or need. Unfortunately, doing so can translate to a lack of appreciation for the hard work it really takes to provide for those growing needs. We see this dichotomy come to life when Jack returns, ecstatic about the magic beans he just landed, only to have his mother display much less than a positive vibe.

Jack, like all good, honest children, doesn’t want to let his mother down, so he climbs all the way up the beanstalk in search of a fortune that will convince his mother that the beans he got in exchange for their precious cow are truly magical. Inside the Giant’s castle, Jack meets Goldie, a hen that lays golden eggs; and Esmerelda, the woman who takes care of the Giant; both of whom feel their hard work providing for and making the Giant comfortable goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Seeing the Giant speak rudely to two who are so helpful motivates Jack to save them.

If it weren’t for Jack experiencing Goldie and Esmerelda’s struggle to survive firsthand in the Giant’s castle, he may never have understood the difficult decision his mother made to sell Milky White. Like all fairy tales, Jack and his mother’s story has a happy ending—but you’ll have to see the show to find out just how he defeats the Giant.  And trust me, even if you think you’ve got this fairy tale down, you owe it to yourself to see the surprises and gentle moments that only Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts can provide.

Be sure to arrive a little early to start your own garden working with a member of the Green Thumb Team in the DCT lobby.  There will also be a Jelly Bean guessing contest you can enter!  No beans, I mean, no bones about it, the entire family will have a great time.

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK runs March 3 – 26. Tickets on sale now. Plan your visit at dct.org.

 

EAT (IT’S NOT ABOUT FOOD) IS about these people…

At DCT, we are fortunate to have community partners to work with when we are producing shows that deal with a specific medical or social issue. As a result of those relationships, we were able to interview a few experts in the area of eating disorders as we prepared for our Teen Scene production of EAT (IT’S NOT ABOUT FOOD) by Linda Daugherty. Only one of our interview participants, however, chose to become an expert in the field. For the other two interviewees, they candidly told us about their very personal run-in with the disorder. I wanted to share a few of their main points You may notice some consistencies. I know I did.

The Elisa Project right here in Dallas is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. Their Executive Director, Kimberly Martinez, sat down with us to provide some insight:

KIM: It’s really through behaviors that you’re able to identify eating disorders; just being aware of them, and what they look like. It is something that culminates over time from depression, negative body image, low self-esteem, other self-harming behaviors…but parents don’t usually see it coming.

Bradley Evans is a high school student who is now keenly aware of how close he was to a serious medical crisis due to his eating disorder. He shared some details of his experience with us:

BRADLEY: My dad was military, so we moved around a lot. I was probably about twelve or thirteen-years-old when I started getting into trouble with eating disorders. I was under a lot of stress. I think we had just moved and I was having a hard time making friends. I didn’t feel like I could really talk to anybody. I started to feel alone, and I guess I just started eating less and didn’t take care of myself so much, and eventually it got so bad I was going four or five days without food or water. I was just so weak I could barely even stand.

I guess I didn’t know anything was wrong until my parents started noticing. They tried to help me get back on track, but I couldn’t figure out how to stop the behaviors.

Steven Dunn is a successful lawyer and a good father. His daughter Morgan was a good student with good friends and a selfless spirit. This past October, Morgan lost her life after a seven-year battle with an eating disorder. He shared his story with us:

STEVEN: Her very good friends, for lack of a better word, ratted her out to us. They told us that she was beginning to go to the restrooms after they ate lunch at school; she was a little bit distracted. She came home, and on the surface, she was pretty much the way she was, but her friends told us these issues are going on.

Eating disorders is this insidious monster that comes into your household. It takes the person, and it sinks its claws into them, and it lies to them. It isolates them from their friends, their school, their loved ones, and keeps them in the dark. It isolates them. For us, that was the best way for us to identify this and try to get it, not only out of her life, but out of our lives and all of her friends’ lives as well, because it has this way of expanding and pulling everyone else in. It only has one goal, and its goal is to kill.

KIM: Eating disorders are life-threatening. Your mind becomes malnourished, and you’re not able to function the way that you normally would. From heart attacks and strokes, to not being able to jump and run and have friends, eating disorders really take over your life. And it’s not just the young people who may suffer from the illness, but it’s their entire family who suffers from an eating disorder.

Those are hard words to hear, especially for parents of young kids. Of course, the more we learn the better off our children and our families will be. Bradley offers some practical advice for those suffering and for those who want to help, and our experts offer some hope.

BRADLEY: If you’re struggling, it’s so important to reach out to someone and let them know that you feel trapped and out of control. If somebody you know is closing themselves off to relationships, reach out to them and say, “Are you okay? Is everything really okay?”

STEVEN: There is hope. I urge people to get to it in time, to pay attention. You can recover, but you’ve got to put your life into it, because if not, you may lose.

KIM: There is hope, of course, yes. Recovery is so, so possible. It’s something that you totally could recover from, so that’s the good news. Many people with eating disorders feel a sense of guilt and shame about having an eating disorder. As long as you keep it secret, you are gonna be sick. The minute you tell somebody, you’re on the road to recovery.

EAT (IT’S NOT ABOUT FOOD), a play by resident playwright, Linda Daugherty, ran at Dallas Children’s Theater from February 10-19, and is part of a series of plays focused on issues teens and those who love them face.

 

 

 

Two Directors are pulling the strings on JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

It takes two to make a thing go right, and it takes two directors to make sure puppeteers disappear out of sight and completely into the background in Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ production of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK. We chatted with Doug Burks and Sally Fiorello, the show’s co-directors, about this rendition of the fairy tale and more before opening. Read on…

Describe JACK AND THE BEANSTALK from your perspective.

Doug Burks: It was one of the first fairy tales I remember as a child. There was a picture book that I had as a child, and then I remember the iconic Mickey Mouse film.

Sally Fiorello: That’s what I was going to say! Mickey Mouse and the Beanstalk, which is a beautiful, beautiful animated feature that I loved. The Giant scared me as a kid, and in that cartoon, he was certainly a little bit scary. I think I really believed there were giants when I was a kid.

Describe JACK AND THE BEANSTALK using three words.

SF: Magic, fantasy, adventure.

What do you like most about JACK AND THE BEANSTALK?

SF: I love the growing of the beanstalk. And the interaction with Goldie the Hen and all the characters.

DB: Yeah, Goldie is kind of our scene stealer.

SF: I also like the addition of the Man in the Moon to the typical Jack and the Beanstalk story.

DB: That idea was inspired by the old Sue Hastings script that we have, because that’s the way they did it. They had that character in it.

SF: And we WAY expanded on it. He’s got a song and a whole scene with some starlettes. If there had been more time when we first dreamed it up, his storyline could have been expanded even more.

What kind of experience are you trying to create for audiences?

SF: I think it’s an adventure story first. Jack is certainly setting out on a journey that is an adventure – climbing a beanstalk way up into the sky – and then he sees the Giant. I think we are taking the audience on a sort of fantastical trip that they can’t take themselves on in their everyday lives. When I was a kid, fairy tales figured prominently into my entertainment, whether it was my mother reading me a story or seeing Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, now people sort of forget about them.

DB: So the experience we’re trying to create for our audience is a classic fairy tale, the way they used to be.

What is it like being a director?

DB: It’s kind of a daunting task, having to be responsible for every single element. But at the same time, it’s incredibly rewarding.

SF: There are certainly different problems with directing a puppet show versus one of our shows where live actors are front and center. Knowing what puppets can do as opposed to what people can do, and what the style of puppetry can accomplish is different; there’s a lot of different variables.

DB: What’s different about the way we work, too, is that oftentimes, our company will voice a character and puppeteer that same character. But we also have to hire other actors to voice certain characters. It’s just a different set of skills that puppeteers/actors have to incorporate.

How have you seen theater change someone’s life?

DB: Well, it changed my life! As a child, I often felt very introverted and shy, and it wasn’t until I got into theater and performing that I overcame a lot of that. It taught me to express myself.

SF: It absolutely taught me to express myself, and aided in my education. It opened my mind up to wanting to know more, because it gave to me in a way that was dramatic or exciting or compelling, as opposed to a teacher saying “na na na.” It was like a world that was suddenly in front of me, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Why are you interested in children’s theater?

DB: The arts and theater in education can be very, very valuable, whether you choose a career in the arts or not. We must continue to build, not only the future artists, but the future audiences as well.

SF: As with all of the arts, theater makes a complete person. I believe when the arts are missing, we lose empathy. We lose what being a human being is all about. We become something else, and I worry about the kind of human that will exist if the arts are just kind of pushed by the wayside.

Describe a memorable moment you’ve had at DCT.

DB: Well they all involved the audiences, their responses. An audience full of children is often so much more honest than an audience full of adults. The feedback is so immediate; they’re less likely to censor themselves.

SF: If they think something’s funny…

DB: They’re going to laugh. If they don’t like something and get bored, they’re going to start talking. You know when they’re not paying attention.

SF: There have been so many times when people, when kids especially, have been so enamored with what they’re seeing and that feels really, really good.

DB: I first was an actor at DCT in 1989, so I’ve also worked with a lot of children that have come through our productions. That’s kind of a great thing to work with an actor as a child, and there are many of them now that are grown that I get to work with again as adults. Like Katy Tye.

SF: When he was here did you work with Montgomery Sutton?

DB: Yeah, Montgomery Sutton, there’s just too many to even remember. These kids that I worked with when they were seven-, eight-, nine years old, and then I get to work with them again as adults.

What’s your favorite children’s story and why?

DB: Winnie the Pooh. I could really relate to those characters; sometimes I could relate to Eyeore, sometimes to Pooh. I can just really relate to that story of how our childhood toys and friends will always kind of stay with us.

SF: That’s beautiful, Doug. It probably would go back to certain movies like Bambi, for me. I liked Bambi so much because I am such an animal lover. One more recent movie that is also a play that I love is Babe, the Sheep Pig. I think that story shows the nobleness of animals, and why we should respect them. It’s so humorous and so loving. It’s full of wonderful life lessons.

Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ JACK AND THE BEANSTALK runs March 3-26, 2017. With shows during Spring Break and on the weekends, there’s plenty of time for you to climb up the beanstalk with Jack. Visit dct.org for more information about the tickets and show times.

JUNIE B. JONES Provides Bedding for Friends in Need through S. M. Wright Foundation program

In the spirit of making all friends comfortable, Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) is hosting a collection to support S.M. Wright Foundation’s Beds for Kids program during the six-week run of JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK. DCT is asking its young patrons to perform an act of kindness for other children in our community, who need resources that make it possible to get a good night’s rest. Families are asked to bring a NEW blanket, pillow, or set of twin-sized bed sheets for young neighbors in the Beds for Kids program at the S.M. Wright Foundation.

In early 2010, the Foundation established the Beds for Kids program in an effort to reduce the number of North Texas children not experiencing quality sleep. Since its inception, the Beds for Kids program has distributed more than 6,360 bed sets to underprivileged kids. However, demand far exceeds the Foundation’s ability to supply resources.  Sadly, there is a waiting list of more than 4,200 kids.

“We are blessed and humbled by Dallas Children’s Theater’s generosity in naming our Foundation as their beneficiary. It sends a strong message not only to children, but to everyone; and it is our pleasure to be a part of such a generous outpouring and a wonderful production,” said Rev. S.M. Wright II, President & CEO of the S.M. Wright Foundation.

The S.M. Wright Foundation was founded in 1998 to deliver social services to those in need. For nearly 17 years, the organization, based in South Dallas, has provided support and stability to underprivileged children and less fortunate families through hunger relief, economic empowerment, and assistance in the areas of education, health and social services. The Foundation is unique among social services because it carries out its mission on a daily basis in the community – providing  hope, encouragement and assistance to families in need.

In appreciation of our patrons’ generosity, every family that donates an item will receive one ticket per to DCT’s summer show, MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS: AN AFRICAN TALE. Limit two (2) per family.

To learn more about the S. M. Wright Foundation and the Beds for Kids Program, visit smwrightfoundation.org. JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK runs now thru February 26. Visit the DCT website to purchase tickets.

For sanitary reasons, only donations of new items will be accepted.


JUNIE
B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK

by Allison Gregory

based on the books Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook and Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren by Barbara Park

January 20 – February 26, 2017

Recommended for ages 5 and up

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.

we-all-sing

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

linus-writes-letter-to-santa

  • 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
    nutcracker-2_mo

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

nutcracker-5_mo

  • 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.

snoopy-media-only-blog

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.

doggone-good-photo

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.