Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

A Conversation About Puppetry & Storytelling at DCT

RobynHeadshot'11“There’s a participatory energy that translates the symbolism of the puppet because we are filling out the full picture in our minds.”

Robyn Flatt, DCT Co-Founder and Executive Artistic Director


Kathy Burks“It’s everyone who loves a good story, not just children.”

Kathy Burks, Founder of Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts




Nancy Schaeffer“There are times when a puppet can tell the story best.”

Nancy Schaeffer, DCT Education Director




Storytelling takes many forms in theater arts. Moving performances by live actors, visually stunning puppetry, and clever blends of both elements can create a very unique production. While puppetry has been utilized in DCT shows from the very beginning of its 29 year history, several shows in DCT’s current 2012-2013 season feature puppetry in a prominent way. DCT’s Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt, Education Director Nancy Schaeffer and Resident Artist Kathy Burks tell us from their unique individual perspectives what it is like incorporating puppetry into the artistry at DCT.


Photo by Peter Mathew

Photo by Peter Mathew


DCT audiences are in for a special treat when our mates from Australia, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, present their highly acclaimed show BoatsApril 19 – 21. Robyn Flatt first saw the show in Seattle at One Theatre World, and she was so impressed by their unique storytelling and artistry that she decided to ask them to perform here in Dallas, making it DCT’s very first international presentation. “It’s a marvelous family piece. You get a sense of what it is like to go out on the sea, and all of their magic is totally visible to us,” she says. Boats follows a very Australian tradition of telling tall tales with found objects and embellishing them for the sake of the story. Puppets are tied from ropes, a boat is made from a table and many of the sound effects are made live. She adds, “I think they are enchanting with the variety of ways they use the objects around them to bring their stories to life.”


Photo by Karen Almond

Photo by Karen Almond

Rumpelstiltskin and The Nutcracker

Of course, you can’t talk about puppetry without mentioning Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts. This season, the renowned troupe performed its productions of Rumpelstiltskin, a faithful adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm tale with rod puppets that magically come to life, and The Nutcracker, which presents a great variety of characters and moods and contains departures from realism with multiple forms of puppetry. “There’s so many ways to tell a story through puppetry,” says Burks.

After a performance of Rumpelstiltskin this spring, a grandmother and her grown daughter told Burks that they had seen the troupe’s shows at the Haymarket Theater years ago and now were bringing a grand-daughter to see it. “That’s good stuff that I have enriched all three generations,” she says. “That’s the ultimate test when you get the audience to respond.”

Photo by Karen Almond

Photo by Karen Almond

DCT’s response to the company has always been positive and the two companies’ mutual admiration for one another was made public in 1996 when they officially joined forces. Since then, Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts has been a resident company at DCT, presenting two or three productions annually as part of the DCT season. Plus, on occasion, Burks’ master puppeteers are asked to collaborate or advise on DCT productions, too. “We frequently need puppetry techniques in our shows, and having an expert so close and involved has been a great asset to DCT,” says Flatt.


Photo by Karen Almond

Photo by Karen Almond

Goodnight Moon

This January, DCT transformed into the famous Great Green Room for Goodnight Moon, which incorporated both puppetry and live actors.  “We worked for months on the best ways to incorporate many types of puppetry into the production,” says show director Nancy Schaeffer. “And of course, I could never have done it without the amazing collaboration with Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts. They worked so hard to make the magic happen.” Expanding upon the famous childhood bedtime story, additional characters and flights of fancy are brilliantly woven together, staying true to the nostalgic feeling of the tale while making a stunning production on stage. “It was one of the most challenging shows to put on technically – but it was also one of the most rewarding.”


Photo by Karen Almond

Photo by Karen Almond

Looking Ahead: Puppetry
in the 2013-2014 Season

So what is coming up next? DCT’s highly anticipated 30th anniversary season for 2013-2014 has even more fun surprises and stories to tell. Flatt, Schaeffer and Burks share their final thoughts on what they look forward to next season and the importance of keeping alive DCT’s rich tradition of puppetry, storytelling and family theater.


CITH-1“I am very excited about the puppet fish in Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat. The fish is so nervous having a cat in the house – understandably. He is constantly trying to be the voice of reason on that cold, cold, wet day,” says Schaeffer.



Mariachi-Girl-2“In Mariachi Girl, the protagonist has a Mexican Barbie and a blonde Barbie, which she uses to talk and argue back & forth. They extend her exploration of who she is and who she can be. The emotional impact of her personal struggle is powerfully portrayed through the interplay between the two dolls,” says Flatt.



Beauty and The Beast“I am looking forward to creating all new puppets for Beauty and the Beast. A family theater is the most important because you are enriching the young mind with beautiful ideas like ‘true beauty comes from within’. When it is done right, you’ve blessed your community for years to come. I do think DCT is succeeding in doing that, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” says Burks.


And don’t forget, Boats is a special storytelling and puppetry engagement with only three public shows! Click here for a sneak peek.

Theater + Math = Robyn Flatt

DSCF2023Sometimes it is easy for us to think that math and theater are two academic disciplines that have nothing to do with each other. But this is not the case, especially at DCT!

Have you ever noticed the name listed above the double doors of DCT’s 390-seat theater inside the Rosewood Center For Family Arts? DCT Executive Artistic Director & Co-Founder Robyn Flatt named the Paul and Kitty Baker Theater after her two parents. Her father Paul Baker was a renowned theater expert, and her mother Kitty Baker is a mathematician. Their incredible legacies live on in Robyn and in the continued success of Dallas Children’s Theater, which is approaching its 30th season of inspiring kids and families through the power of live theater.

As DCT’s current show A Wrinkle In Time is being performed on the Baker Theater stage, Robyn reflects on her upbringing – how the powerful combination of math and theater influenced her life path and why emphasizing strong female heroines like Meg Murry of A Wrinkle In Time is an important aspect of DCT’s mission.

DCT Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt, with her sisters Retta & Sally and their mother Kitty Baker.

DCT Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt with her sisters Retta & Sally and their mother Kitty Baker.

Q: Your mother is a mathematician, and your father was a renowned theater expert. Tell us how this background in math and the arts affected your upbringing and your life path.

A: Of course, by growing up on the Baylor University campus where our mother taught math and our father was director of the Baylor University’s Drama department and Baylor Theater, higher education was a way of life. The arts were considered by both of our parents to be at the center of developing an engaged, productive individual. Mother, with the help of a neighbor musician friend, started a children’s theater for my sister Retta and me when I was in third grade, and my father agreed to host it at the Baylor Theater. Henceforth, theater was always a dominant part of my life. All of us were encouraged to apply our talents and contribute to our communities, and these concepts have passed along to the next two generations of girls in our family, or so it seems at this time.

Robyn's parents Kitty & Paul Baker both taught at Baylor University when she was growing up with her two sisters.

Robyn’s parents, Kitty & Paul Baker, both taught at Baylor University when she was growing up with her two sisters.

Q: It’s pretty obvious you inherited your father’s theatrical passion and talent. Did you inherit your mother’s knack for numbers, too?

A: Though I’m not always the fastest at adding up a group of numbers, I have an excellent sense of number patterns and relationships that is somehow instinctive. I figured out quickly in high school how to stretch my $2.50/week allowance to ultimately save enough to purchase fabric and then make a blouse or skirt. I oversaw budgets at the Dallas Theater Center during the years I ran their Theater in the Parks program and managed them very well. Numbers for me are symbols. I suppose I gleaned that from our mother who often took numbers and translated them into patterns for quilts and weaving projects. She always told us that numbers and art are really just two sides of the same coin. Mother, now 100 years old, had an amazingly clear grasp of the interrelatedness of math, science and the arts from the education she received at Randolph Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia.

In DCT's "A Wrinkle In Time", iconic heroine Meg Murry embarks on a dangerous mission across space & time to rescue her father from another planet. Photo by Karen Almond.

In DCT’s “A Wrinkle In Time,” iconic heroine Meg Murry embarks on a dangerous mission across space and time to rescue her father from another planet. Photo by Karen Almond.

Q: A Wrinkle In Time is arguably the first sci-fi novel to appeal to young girls and feature a strong female heroine. Why do you think it is important for girls in particular to see this show?

A: Girls need as many strong female role models as possible. I was fortunate that my mother, born in 1912, forged ahead into math at a time when very few women sought advanced degrees. She was one of very few female students in her graduate math classes at the University of Chicago. Mother was only three months away from completing a doctorate in math when the Great Depression of the 1930’s made it financially impossible for her to continue. In spite of that, she was a highly respected math teacher until she retired around 1980. My mother was my own in-house role model. There was never a question for me about whether, as a girl, I could pursue whatever I wanted to.

Q: Throughout the years, DCT has produced many shows with strong female leads. Why do you think doing these kinds of shows are important to the mission of DCT?

A: Today’s world still presents many hurdles for women. Therefore, I feel it is very important for Dallas Children’s Theater to help empower young girls by bringing courageous female role models to the stage and thus encourage them to engage in the battle to follow their own, individual dreams. The experience of theater is a powerful one. Following DCT’s performances, many of these young girls feel empowered to face their own challenges, seek ways to overcome their own difficulties and step forward to shape their own dynamic futures. When this happens, we say, “Mission Accomplished.”

From Dallas to Corsicana: “Teen Brain: The Musical”

photo (1)After a very successful run at DCT’s Rosewood Center For Family Arts, the cast & crew of Teen Brain: The Musical recently got to entertain an audience nearly 55 miles away from their Dallas home base in Navarro County’s Corsicana.

“I was very impressed by the flexibility of both the student actors and student technicians. They quickly adapted to the space and did the show that they knew how to do beautifully,” said assistant show director and DCT Production Manager Melissa Cashion.

As part of the DCT Teen Scene Players program, the eight young actors and six student technicians, alongside the professional guidance of DCT staff, rehearsed over several weeks and then performed the show for the public.

The cast - Annabel, Austin, Hunter, Kendyl, Colleen, Froy and Carter - play eight young people who have one unforgettable Friday in "Teen Brain: The Musical".

The cast – Annabel, Austin, Hunter, Kendyl, Colleen, Froy and Carter – play eight young people who have one unforgettable Friday in Teen Brain: The Musical.

The brand-new, high-energy Teen Brain: The Musical explores the lives of eight young people navigating the rough waters of high school. The show was written by DCT resident playwright Linda Daugherty, with songs written and performed live by Nick Martin, a DCT alum and professional musician.

Critics praised the musical as a refreshing and insightful exploration of the challenges currently faced by teens.

teen brain helmutTheaterJones: “The talented cast sings about the stress of school work, relationships, friendships, parents, peer pressure, social media and the like.”

Lake Highlands Today: “The subject matter of peer pressure and teen exposure to alcohol has been covered many times before, but this show presents it in a way that, refreshingly, doesn’t preach, doesn’t play like an after-school special, and doesn’t disappoint.”

Audiences also enjoyed the show, which served as a conversation starter for teens and parents to discuss difficult subjects. DCT Teen Scene Anchor Will talked to the audience on the show’s Opening Night about their reactions to the show:

What did the teen actors themselves think about their experience in Teen Brain: The Musical? The cast told us their thoughts:

Behind the scenes, the student technicians played just as crucial a role as their peers who were performing on stage.

Student technicians Nick, Emmie, Vlad, Chet, Jacob & Kelli Anne were recognized on stage by Production Manager Melissa Cashion before the start of one of the performances of the show.

Student technicians Nick, Emmie, Vlad, Chet, Jacob & Kelli Anne were recognized on stage by Production Manager Melissa Cashion before one of the performances of the show.

“These kids are absolutely amazing!” said DCT Production Manager Melissa Cashion.

Before the start of one of the show’s performances, she brought up each of the young techs to the front of the stage to be recognized by the audience for all of their hard work on the show operating follow spots, light boards, audio & video equipment and serving as deck crew or production assistants.

After several sold out performances at DCT’s Rosewood Center, the popularity of Teen Brain: The Musical earned the cast & crew of the show an invitation to perform at the Palace Theater in Corsicana, a first for the DCT teen shows.

8533197009_d8c4166467“The show looked and sounded beautiful on the stage at the Palace Theater,” said show director and DCT Education Director Nancy Schaeffer. “The audiences loved the show, and it was an experience we will never forget.”

Youth Actress Takes on Teen Brain

IMG_0745At 15 years old, Kendyl already has performed in five DCT shows, including two main stage musicals and three teen shows, each of which address completely different topics! The talented theater student even had the pleasure of meeting the late Larry Hagman last October when he visited DCT to see Pinkalicious The Musical where Kendyl played a bee in the show.

Now, Kendyl is performing in DCT’s new, high-energy Teen Brain: The Musical, which explores the lives of eight young people navigating the rough waters of high school. We asked Kendyl to tell us what it is like to be a young DCT actress and what she is learning in her current role!

Q: How did you get started in theater?

A: It was a completely random spark for me. I just went up to my mom and told her I wanted to be an actress when I grew up, so she signed me up for classes at DCT. I immediately fell in love with it.

Kendyl played Rebecca in DCT's 2012 production of "Secret Life of Girls". Photo by Karen Almond

Kendyl, pictured second from the left, played Rebecca in DCT’s 2012 production of “The Secret Life of Girls”. Photo by Karen Almond

Q: You have been in EAT (It’s Not About Food), The Secret Life of Girls, Madeline’s Christmas, Pinkalicious The Musical and now Teen Brain: The Musical. Tell us about your experience performing in these shows (each of them touch on very different subject matters)!

A: I love the diversity of the shows. One day, I’m a bee on stage making kids laugh, and the next, I’m saving lives through what I love to do – and that’s an amazing feeling. The main stage shows are always super fun, but the teen shows really hit home with me after seeing kids my age be moved by something I was a part of and decide to seek help or turn their lives around.

In "Teen Brain: The Musical", Kendyl, pictured second from the left, plays one of eight teens navigating through the rough waters of high school. Photo by Jason Lynch

In “Teen Brain: The Musical”, Kendyl, pictured on the right, plays one of eight teens navigating through the rough waters of high school. Photo by Jason Lynch

Q: What is the most startling thing you have learned about the teen brain while being a part of this musical?

A: How quickly teens pick up addiction. It really makes me cautious about the decisions I make. Teens seem to think they won’t end up the adult with the addiction, but many end up that way when they start these bad habits at such a young age.

Q: Are there any other specific lessons you have learned through participating in the show that you will apply to your own life moving forward?

A: With Teen Brain, I’ve learned that every action has a consequence. You may think what you’re doing is minor, but when it begins to add up, the consequences can be bigger than you ever imagined. These choices don’t make anyone a bad person – we all make mistakes. We just need to “look before we leap.”

Q: How do you think parents & teachers will benefit from seeing Teen Brain?

A: I think they’ll be able to recognize these behaviors more easily in their teens. They’ll probably be reminded of what it was like to be a teen and understand the teen brain better, which will help parents and teachers help their teens make good decisions.

Photo by Karen Almond Shown here, left to right: Robyn Flatt (DCT Executive Artistic Director), Jacob Segoviano (DCT Academy Student), Larry Hagman, Kendyl Mull (DCT Academy Student)

Photo by Karen Almond
Shown here, left to right: Robyn Flatt (DCT Executive Artistic Director), Jacob (DCT Academy Student), Larry Hagman, Kendyl (DCT Academy Student)

Q: Tell us about meeting the late Larry Hagman last fall.

A: Mr. Hagman was definitely one of those people that lights up a room when he walks in. When he talks, you are so eager to listen. Meeting him was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Getting to converse with such an incredible actor about the passion we both share was so awesome.

Q: What advice would you give to other teens who are interested in acting but may not know how to get started?

A: Definitely try it out. Take some classes – DCT offers a wide variety of classes from musicals, to just straight up acting, to film, to even tech classes. The classes will help you get more involved at DCT and the directors will recognize your face if you come in for auditions!

You can see Kendyl yourself in Teen Brain: The Musical, which runs during February 15 – 24, 2013 at DCT. For tickets to the show & more info, call the Box Office at 214-740-0051, or visit our website!

Stage Managing Education

How is directing traffic similar to stage managing? Terry Feagin, who has worked at DCT (from the very beginning!) for nearly 30 years, tells us how her current role as Education Coordinator is similar to when she used to stage manage DCT shows!

Q: How did you get started in theater? Did you act when you were a child?

A: I worked backstage on a couple of shows in high school, but I really became involved in theater in college. I spent most of my free time in the theater and backstage – I was never interested in being onstage. My only acting role was in the 4th grade in a play about Harriet Tubman!

Q: You are one of the DCT staff members who has been here from the very beginning! Tell us about some of your favorite memories over the years.

A: When DCT first started, the staff was much smaller, so everyone did a little bit of everything. You might be taking ticket reservations over the phone and sewing a costume at the same time! All of the staff had their offices in one big room, and everyone pitched in to help with whatever needed to be done. I met my future husband, Hugh Feagin, when he was cast as an actor in some plays I was stage managing – that’s definitely one of my favorite experiences at DCT!

Q: You used to stage manage DCT shows. How is stage managing similar or different than helping coordinate the Education classes?

A: Both jobs require a lot of organization, and there is a lot of variety in both positions. Every day is different – they are actually more similar than you might expect. We used to say stage managing was a lot like directing traffic – and now I do direct traffic…in the carpool line!

Q: Describe a typical day in your current role as Education Coordinator, particularly while classes are going on.

A: My day is usually a combination of working in the office and being ‘on deck’ while classes are going on. In the office, I might be processing enrollments, answering questions over the phone, creating rosters for classes. When it’s time for class, I make sure the classrooms are ready, sign-in the students as they arrive, answer questions from parens, and then I’m out in the parking lot for carpool.

Q: Describe how carpool works.

A: I help the parents line up in the carpool line and make sure each driver is on the list given to us at the start of class. I give a list of the students in order to Nancy Schaeffer, our Education Director. Nancy has a great system for lining up the students in the correct order, and the teachers then help the students into their cars. It’s really amazing how quickly the line will go, and it’s a very safe way to get everyone into the correct car.

Q: You manage the carpool line throughout the year in all different types of weather. Tell us about how you “keep your cool” even during the worst weather conditions, like the brutual Texas summer heat?

A: I drink lots of water and always wear my sun hat and sunscreen. If it’s really hot, I bring a frozen wet bandana in my lunchbox cooler and wrap that around my neck – that’s my secret weapon! It’s really not so bad most days, and I really enjoy being outside a little bit every day.

Q: What is your favorite part about working for DCT and in the Education department?

A: I get to work with wonderful friends and co-workers and be a part of a tremendous organization that adds so much to our community. It has been very rewarding to see the organization grow and expand over the years, and to get to be a part of that growth. I love seeing our students enjoying their classes and having fun learning about theater.

Q: What is it like watching students reunite with their proud parents & loved ones (ready with flowers, applause, smiles & big hugs) after a class show performance?

A: Class performance days are very hectic, but they are a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding to see how happy and proud the students are after their shows, and the parents can really appreciate the hard work and effort the students have put in to create something as a group that is bigger than themselves.

An Attitude of Gratitude at DCT

The amazing students from Lone Star Circus did flips and tricks in the lobby during Opening Night of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”.

It’s the time of year to count your blessings. As the holidays and a brand new year approach, we have so much to appreciate, thanks to an abundance of devoted friends and DCT family.

We are so very thankful for the many individuals, foundations and companies that support DCT. They understand that in order to present great shows and offer classes, we have to raise additional funds in the form of sponsorships and donations.

The Michaels coloring station has become a favorite activity among our young patrons during this season’s Opening Night performances!

In fact, 40% of our budget relies on support similar to what we got this year from Texas Instruments Foundation, Texas Instruments, Michaels Stores, Target, TACA, the King, Rosewood, Hersh and Shubert Foundations, NGP Energy Capital Management, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Jones Day, to name a few. Not to be overshadowed are the donations of $25, $50, $100, $250 and $1000, which also make a huge difference. Collectively, these dollars help sustain DCT and enable us to continue to bring the magic of live theater to children and families across the metroplex and beyond.

On Opening Night of “Pinkalicious The Musical”, the audience was treated to delicious strawberry cupcakes, courtesy of our friends at Sprinkles!

Opening Night Parties, a new tradition that began last season, have grown even stronger in 2012, thanks to the help of our partners. Each show’s first Friday evening performance would not be the same without Wonderful Weekend Sponsors and donations from local business friends. Michaels Stores, Sprinkles, Purple Cow Restaurant, Tiff’s Treats, Nancy Dee’s Lil Bits Mini Donuts, and Whitley Penn all helped make pre-show activities and intermission something really special this year.

Audiences waited in anticipation for a Target-sponsored performance at DCT!

And then there are friends, like DCT Trustee Karen Travis, who along with intern Maliska Haba, truly took the (cup) cake when they decked out the facility with pinkatastic décor for this season’s opening show, Pinkalicious The Musical, DCT’s most pinkarrific show ever!

Photo by Karen Almond
Larry Hagman on the set of “Pinkalicious The Musical” with the youth ensemble members playing birds, bees and butterflies. In the spur of the moment he decided to strike a pose with them!

Finally, every now and then, you are fortunate to encounter a light so bright that it leaves a lifetime impression on you. That happened to DCT when Larry Hagman graced our doorway one October Sunday. Watching him talk to the children about the importance of the arts in his life and how he wanted to give money so that all children could get that benefit really touched us all. Having no idea that it would be the last time we would ever talk to him about a subject he was so clearly passionate about, we all left that day looking forward to his promised return.

Photo by Karen Almond
Shown here, left to right: Robyn Flatt (DCT Executive Artistic Director), Jacob Segoviano (DCT Academy Student), Larry Hagman, Kendyl Mull (DCT Academy Student)

Unfortunately, we’ll not physically get to host Mr. Hagman again at DCT, but the creation of the Larry Hagman Scholarship for the Performing Arts will live on as a tribute to his generosity and passion for the arts. Thank you, Larry. Warmest Wishes, Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to all! We’re halfway through the season of shows and truly looking forward to ringing in 2013 with Goodnight Moon, A Wrinkle in Time, Boats, Teen Brain: The Musical, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Rumpelstiltskin, The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley and so much more! See you in the New Year!

Dancing with “The Nutcracker”

Everyone knows The Nutcracker as a ballet and a masterful piece of music, but DCT’s version is entirely unique. Enter a dazzling and spectacular puppet interpretation by Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts! We sat down with master puppeteers Kathy Burks, Trish Long and Sally Fiorello as they prepare to open their 15th production of The Nutcracker while launching their 40th season as a professional troupe. They are family – both literally and figuratively! We wanted to know what their experience has been like performing together over the years, and what it’s like backstage while spinning the magic. They all agree that it’s a mental and physical workout, choreographed as precisely as a dance. Despite the challenges, the reward is great, and it remains their favorite piece among the company’s holiday repertoire. Here are some of the highlights of what they had to say:


Trish Long

Puppeteer of the Nutcracker, the Prince and various puppets in Act II. She’s also the voice of Fritz, and a puppet costume designer

I think we know each other so well both personally and professionally, that at times on stage we are totally in sync with one another. It also is great to know you have one another’s back if something goes wrong, which in any live performance is bound to happen! A particular thing that can be very irritating is when you pull your hood down and you realize it’s backwards and you can’t see a thing! You quickly try to figure out how to turn it around on your head without revealing your face! We have bumped into one another, stepped on each other’s toes, poked ourselves in the eye (and lost a contact lens), had a case of the flu, and had small parts of puppets appendages come off during the performance!


Kathy Burks

Director, voice of the little puppeteer in the prologue

The short answer…it is great FUN. Backstage it is busy and quiet, and carefully choreographed. One must never let his mind wander. The sequence of events must be followed perfectly. Do not change your pathway and do not change your routine without previously informing all puppeteers. And on top of all of this, enjoy what you are doing and never lose your sense of humor. HO HO HO! The fight between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King always elicits excited responses from the audiences and this is a joyous experience for me.
Another outstanding moment comes when a solemn white poodle, the only ballet dancer in the production, achieves a startling leap across the stage, propelled by three puppeteers, who must move with drill team precision.


Sally Fiorello

Puppeteer of Tchaikovsky, Clara & the Mouse King in Act I, and various puppets in Act II, including the dancing Poodle. She voices the Narrator & Clara, and is also the Production Designer.

With one exception, most of us have been performing together for thirty to forty years. That is unusual for most arts organizations. We are indeed a family. As performers, this longevity has certainly developed our skill and craftsmanship, but it has also developed a unique ability to sense each other’s movements and dramatic choices before they occur. This allows us to work together in a more intuitive and creative way. With over fifty characters and manipulated objects in the show, the puppeteers never rest. Because it is a “black theater” production, we work completely shrouded in black velveteen (including hoods and gloves) in almost complete darkness. It is very difficult to see anything that is not on-stage in the light. The velveteen is very warm and during certain physical scenes like the Nutcracker’s battle with the Mouse King and his army, and it can become sweltering. Most of the show continuously moves to the cues and rhythms of Tchaikovsky’s musical score, making it more like a dance than a straight play. As an actor/puppeteer, communicating with an audience is a priority for me. Though difficult to perform, The Nutcracker enables me to accomplish that goal, and always gives me the inspiration and energy to keep it fresh, starting every new performance as if it were the very first one.


Literacy Takes Center Stage at DCT

Like Former First Lady Barbara Bush, we at Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) have a passion for literacy. After all, our mission is to bring books from the page to the stage! We are proud of the very unique partnership that exists between DCT and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Each year, school children receive a chance to participate in an essay contest inspired by a DCT show. This year’s school was J. Erik Jonsson Community School; and the show…Pinkalicious The Musical. Here’s how it worked:

Students in grades 3, 4 and 5 read the book Pinkalicious and were challenged with a question from Mrs. Bush: “Before Pinkalicious turned pink from eating too many pink cupcakes, she never thought there would be consequences for too much of a good thing. Think about a time when you did not make mindful choices. What did you do? What consequences did you face? Write a short story about the experience.”

After submitting their stories, the students then came to DCT to see the show and experience first hand how DCT brings literature to life. For some of these students, it was the first time they’ve ever seen a play. Their excitement is palpable! And when they’ve studied the book in advance, they’re even more elated to see the characters they know walking and talking right before their eyes. 

Best of all, we know this experience is a catalyst for opening up their own creativity. When we see children take the leap from the classroom, to a theatrical event, to believing in the creative power of their own mind, we are proud to have had such an important role in their discovering that education leads to imagination and it is FUN! That’s a lesson they’ll never forget. Books and theater are indeed powerful tools for showing young people how they can achieve better lives.

After the show, Barbara Bush’s grandson, George P. Bush and his wife Amanda, came up to the stage to announce the winners chosen by Mrs. Bush and present them with the Barbara Bush Magic of Reading Award. All in all, it was a great celebration of reading, writing, live theater and accomplishment!

Mrs. Bush said, “I love reading all the wonderful essays that the children submit!” We can see why. Take a minute of your day to read these smart and delightfully funny winning entries, complete with adorable illustrations!

  • 3rd Grade – Leo Ontiveros and his lesson to Listen to Your Mom
  • 4th Grade – Thomas Orta and his story My Goofy Hair Do
  • 5th Grade – Priscilla Cabrera and her account of The Time I Fainted

A Joyous Beginning with Delicious Cupcakes & More

Bon Voyage! We’re off! It’s a new season at DCT and the journey has begun. Pinkalicious The Musical, the most pinkadelic show ever, is sure producing a lot of happiness around here. And it’s contagious!

You can’t step inside the Rosewood Center right now without feeling your heart leap with joy. A canopy with flowers, hearts, pink puffs, lace, stars, ribbons and sparkle shower you from above, thanks to the hard work of board member Karen Travis and intern Maliska Haba.

The walls are overflowing with beautiful designs of bird, bee and butterfly costume designs submitted by children in grades K-12 for our costume design contest.

Flat Stanley and Pinkalicious stand ready for your photo op in the lobby.

And you can buy Sprinkles cupcakes at intermission – so much yum. Pure happiness, I tell you!

Actress Emily Lockhart as Pinkalicious has been hard at work bringing happiness to our audiences, but also to others in the community. She visited with first graders and their teacher, Mr. Painter, at Stonewall Gardens and presented them with the “Pinkalicious Green Team Award” for growing their own vegetables. Blue Bear from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Texas helped, too.

She taught them a song from the show which they sang while strolling by the okra vines, “I’m gonna be brave and learn to eat my gree-ee-ee-eenes!”

Dallas City Councilmember Sheffie Kadane came too and praised the children, “When I was growing up, I didn’t have a garden at my school. You are so smart for learning how to grow food. I am proud of each and every one of you.”

Then Ms. Lockhart visited our neighbors at the Vickery Meadow Community Garden to spread more joy. How adorable is this picture – look at the girl’s t-shirt, which says, “I’d trade my brother for a cupcake”. And that’s her little brother pulling on Pinkalicious’ wand!

But don’t fret if Pinkalicious sells out before you get tickets (now extended until October 28th) – you can still participate in the fun. You can download free activity pages at http://www.dct.org/plays/funtodo.

Season subscribers – don’t forget to pick up your Passport to Imagination Workbook in the DCT Store so your kids can record their memories, play games and earn stamps and prizes. Single ticket buyers can also get in on the fun and buy it for $10.

Meanwhile, don’t just listen to us tell you how pinkeriffic it is here right now, listen to what the patrons have to say. DCT’s AnchorKids keep up with our most important visitors (your kids!) in the most delightful ‘hard-hitting investigative reporting’ you ever saw.

Think pink, friends. It’s happiness.

A Season of Great Partnerships

DCT believes in the power of working together! Collaborating for the greater good of us all is one of our core values. As evidence of this, the 2011-2012 season had a record number of great partnerships with other area arts and culture organizations.

Renowned author Judy Blume (left) and DCT Education Director Nancy Schaeffer (right) had a nice chat this past spring during the DMA’s Arts and Letters Live.

First, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the West Dallas Community School (WDCS) came by when Amanda and George P. Bush announced WDCS essay contest winners who had been inspired to write about DCT’s Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Soon after that, in an effort to help kids get excited about opera and provide DCT audiences with a broader experience of the performing arts, the Dallas Opera brought their UNT and SMU student production of Doctor Miracle to Rosewood Center for multiple performances throughout the season.

DCT’s holiday opening night introduced audiences to The Dallas Symphony’s Christmas Celebration Children’s Choir, who sang glorious carols in our lobby right before curtain time. And DCT’s love affair with the circus continued as the Lone Star Circus brought much revelry and fun to our facility at New Years, and to our production of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

The audience got to see some reptiles & other furry friends and ask Dallas Zoo staff questions about them during the opening night of “Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly”.

Several Dallas Zoo four-legged furry friends partied with us opening night of Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly, and Kumaasi African Ensemble had us up on our feet when their dancers and drummers struck a beat in celebration of the return of DCT’s National Tour in Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters.

Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt served as producer and artistic advisor when DCT friend and UT-Austin professor Roxanne Schroeder-Arce work-shopped a charming new script (working title: Mariachi Girl) with Cara Mia Theatre here at DCT. And finally, as we have done for many, many years, thousands of readers visited us with the free tickets they earned through the Mayor’s Summer Reading Program in collaboration with the Dallas Public Libraries and the Office of the Mayor. Whew – what a list!

But wait, we’re not finished yet…

Education Director Nancy Schaeffer stayed very busy this year sharing her time and talents with others around town. She got to meet the amazing and enduringly popular Judy Blume when she moderated a discussion for the DMA’s Arts & Letters Live. She directed John Davies’ operatic version of a children’s opera Jack and the Beanstalk for CampTDO at The Dallas Opera, which will have public performances on October 27 and January 26 (Tickets go on sale in September!).

“Jack & the Beanstalk”, in partnership with The Dallas Opera and directed by DCT’s Nancy Schaeffer, entertained young audiences by presenting a familiar childhood story in a different way, as an opera!

Nancy and resident playwright Linda Daugherty created an amazing museum theater piece with the Sixth Floor Museum called Shared Stories to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. Everyone agreed that it was a vivid and impactful  way to share history with the younger generations.

And we certainly couldn’t forget that we launched our National Tour in association with the AT&T Performing Arts Center last September in the beautiful Downtown Dallas Arts District! We are proud to say that this relationship with AT&T Performing Arts Center will continue when our 2012-2013 National Touring production of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! opens at the Winspear at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on September 8, 2012!

As we look ahead to 2012-2013, we are happy to report that many of these collaborations will continue, and new alliances are in motion as you read this. We look forward to the opening of The City Performance Hall on September 15, and Klyde Warren Park, opening in October, where we’ll be providing creative dramatics on many Saturdays throughout the year.

It’s a great time to be in Dallas with so much activity and so many wonderful alliances. Thanks to all our friends for enhancing our work and therefore, our lives. We couldn’t do what we do without you. We look forward to continuing to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with all of you.