Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

Thankful for the Arts and Special Needs

Child with Lady Za Za

Meeting Lady Za Za post show!

I fell in love with the arts as a young girl. Since then, I’ve always been amazed with music, dance and theater. Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve never considered the possibility of integrating both my career and my hobbies into one. While Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) focuses most of its energies on entertaining those who were born after 2000, this 21-year-old loves how being in this creative, inspirational space makes my inner child feel.

I couldn’t help but smile as kids waited with excitement to see the sensory-friendly performance of RAPUNZEL! RAPUNZEL! A VERY HAIRY FAIRY TALE. Here at DCT, we take pleasure in providing a comfortable environment for all children. With accommodations like leaving the house lights up a few levels higher and reducing the sound level, our sensory-friendly shows allow families and children with special sensory needs to enjoy these wonderful stories that are so vividly brought to life on stage.

Laura Jones-Martinez (back left), friends and family enjoying DCT’s pre-show activities.

Laura Jones-Martinez, friends and family enjoying
DCT’s pre-show activities.


Children enjoyed some fun pre-show activities, including face painting and live clown performances in the lobby. Slappy and Monday were two of the most energetic clowns I’ve seen. For a moment, I had to remember that I was an employee.

Attendee Laura Neri said of the show “I wish all children’s theater was like this. My kids have a hard time sitting still, so it’s nice that they [DCT] don’t expect them to do so.”

Slappy the Clown tells stories to the children.

Slappy the Clown tells stories to the children.

At Dallas Children’s Theater, we are very committed to helping all children enjoy the benefits of live theater.  I was pleased when I heard that because of funders like the Michael Young Family Foundation and Communities Foundation of North Texas and a recent Dream Ball fundraiser, three more sensory shows are scheduled for next year!  The audience seemed very pleased to hear the news as well, which warmed my heart even more.

More fun activities before the show!

More fun activities before the show!

I had never attended a sensory show before this one, and I had no clue what to expect. But after experiencing that day and witnessing everyone’s joy, I suddenly remembered why I enjoy the arts so much. Seeing all the families share smiles and cheers with each other made me feel at home. Theater has always had that effect on me, like that warm, toasty feeling you have when you wake up on a winter holiday morning, or the thrill you get when your mom finally takes the turkey out of the oven. With the holiday season upon us, I keep thinking about how precious the time we spend with family is. It is awesome to see how DCT helps create great moments for all of these special families.

Going to a sensory-friendly show is actually something all families might consider.  What a great way for young children to appreciate the rainbow of KA2_8276families out there!  I know DCT would welcome you, too. Visit www.dct.org/sensory to see our lineup of sensory-friendly shows for next year. And of course, if you know of any families that would specifically benefit from these unique opportunities, please don’t hesitate to share this information. You never know what these family moments could mean to them.

By the way, DCT staff members recently sent out the information below. The stats reflect the sentiment DCT has gotten from families who came to one of our first three sensory shows. I’m proud of these results, and I thought they were worth sharing in this post.  Great work, DCT!


Verbal children will say they liked the experience / want to return to see another show. 80% 95%
Non-verbal children will be visibly at ease and/or engaged during the performance. 75% 93%
Parents will say their child with sensory sensitivities enjoyed the show. 80% 100%
Parents will say they believe their children were comfortable during the performance. 75% 95%
Parents will say they believe their children grew or learned through the experience. 85% 88%
Parents will say their children had a positive interaction with a person they didn’t know. 85% 90%
Parents will say they would like to come to another sensory-friendly performance. 80% 98%



Written by: Tammie Riley, Community Engagement Coordinator

Edited by:  Sandra Session-Robertson
Hometown: Houston, TX
Studies: Public Relations, minor in Spanish and certificate in Technical Communication

Chi Omega Christmas Market Offers DCT Supporters A Great Excuse To Go Shopping!

cocwreath_noyearWe are so excited to be a beneficiary of the 2014 Chi Omega Christmas Market.  The funds we receive from this organization will support our Curtains Up On Reading Program.  This program pairs a teaching artist from DCT with a classroom teacher for several weeks of creative learning exercises focused on helping students with an area that they might be having difficulty with. Christmas Market co-chairs Jenny Kaiser, Allison Cox, Sarah Koda were among those who selected DCT and other local beneficiaries.  They talked about why it made sense for their organization support this program through their annual fundraising efforts.

DCT  student performance at Notre Dame School 3/3/2011

According to Jenny Kaiser, “The style of teaching students the basiccurriculum through the arts opens new doors for the children to create, direct and explore allowing them a new voice and lots of pride.  Students not only  learn the curriculum but they  retain the information in a way that will forever leave an impression.”

Now in its 37th year, the 2014 Chi Omega Christmas Market will return to Centennial Hall at Fair Park November 19th – 22nd. Boasting 160-plus national vendors and attracting upwards of 10,000 shoppers, this anticipated annual event tops must-shop lists across the region.

At this year’s market, themed “Christmas in the City,” attendees can expect to find jewelry, home décor items, women’s fashion, toys, linens, and original art. What’s more, following the four-day event, thousands of dollars will be donated to area beneficiaries including Dallas Children’s Theater, Bea’s Kids, Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, CitySquare, Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, Dallas Police Association’s Assist the Officer Foundation, Letot Center Capital Foundation, Make-a-Wish Foundation of North Texas, Project Transformation and Collegiate Scholarships.

“Each year, we strive to top the year before, and after a record-breaking year in 2013, we have our work cut out for us,” says Sara Koda, 2014 Chi Omega Christmas Market Co-chair. “This year, we have pledged $206,500 to our fantastic beneficiaries, and we would love nothing more than to surpass that goal.”

Ticket prices range from $12 advance purchase to $75 for a special preview party. For more information and to purchase tickets visit ChiOmegaXmas.org.

Kathy Burks, Frosty and Friends

There’s nothing quite as magical as puppets.

DSCN0976I dropped by Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts to witness what looked like elves on a mission as they work to create the all new musical revue for the holidays, FROSTY & FRIENDS.  When I asked Kathy about the process, she responded as if she was telling me about her family. She told me about how hard the elves, Barry, Surly, and Zoe have been working and how Surly gets grumpy sometimes.  She then just paused, smiled and said, “This is fun. It’s always been fun.”

Many people consider puppets to be toys for children, but the true art of puppetry is an ancient and ever-evolving one.  When the Master Puppeteer picks up an inanimate puppet, he can make you believe that the character truly lives.  It is the result of intense training and hours of rehearsal, but the puppeteers make it look like magic. For FROSTY & FRIENDS, Kathy’s team chose to work in the styles of black theater rod puppets and marionettes, always searching for the best way to tell the story.

Several months ago, I saw Kathy in her studio creating one of the elves, DSCN0974precisely sculpting the face for just the right expression.  She cradled it in her hand as if she was listening, waiting for guidance. Zoe’s eyebrows weren’t quite right, so she’d continue working until it was her face.  Then, Sally Fiorello would take over to paint the faces, again making changes until they were just right, and then Lyle Huchton created original costumes for each of them.  If Zoe was being played by an actor, she had landed an enviable gig.  Actors don’t always get this kind of undivided attention.

DSCN1279Of course Zoe will do her part too, accepting the careful manipulation of her Master Puppeteer and propelling the energy into an audience who has been promised some holiday magic. No wonder Kathy has so much fun. She reflects, “To see these things from your imagination come to life is great fun. I’ve always liked what I do, and I hope the children are going to like it, too. We’re like the elves, working feverishly to prepare for the holidays, and laughing through the hard work. I’m just so lucky.”

Holidays are a time to BELIEVE.

Believe Season Image (1)

Now that we’re approaching the holidays, our BELIEVE entries are taking on additional significance as we revisit them.  Amanda Maceda joined us for opening night of our Teen Scene presentation of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DSCN1019DEAD on October 17, and she brought along a couple of her lifelong friends as she was honored as a grand prize winner with her artwork, Fading Color of Life. Amanda’s creation was one of the first we received, and it was a mesmerizing self-portrait with a vibrant green fading to gray.  Before the performance as Amanda was presented and asked about her inspiration, she told us about her commitment to preserving the environment with a word of caution that had everyone’s attention.  There we were, a room full of zombies suddenly inspired to bring life back to our earth.

Our next opening is going to be one of the most festive events I can imagine, as both of our holiday shows, FROSTY & FRIENDS and MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET open on November 21.  The Rosewood Center will be full of families with kids, finally out of their candy-induced fogs ready for the most wonderful DSCN1020time of the year.  There will be live music, photo ops with Santa’s elves, balloon animals, tasty treats, and the lobby will be decked out in silver and blue and it will be spectacular. That is also when we will celebrate two more grand prize winners.  At age 5, William Croupe was our youngest entry, but his imagination is already well-honed.  William believes in magic, as we all do during the holidays, and he believes “magic makes things easier.”  I still think he will be shocked when he and his family see the magic that Kathy Burks’ crew of master puppeteers creates with FROSTY & FRIENDS.  I’ve seen them in rehearsal, and believe me, they only make it look easy!

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET is one of those stories that you can’t experience too many times.  I only knew this story as a film, but having been introduced to the script, and to the charming actors that are going to play Kris Kringle andDSCN1045 the young Susan, I cannot wait to see this show on stage.  All of the warm feelings we long for at Christmas are right there.  It’s about faith, family, and togetherness and one of the most adorable young elves you can imagine! That same feeling of warmth and togetherness was expressed in Mimi Clot De Broissia’s contest entry, Together Forever.  Mimi volunteers at an animal shelter and sculpted a detailed depiction of what it’s like when a pet finally goes home with a loving family.  I can’t think of a more appropriate time to honor her.

We are going to extend an invitation for all of the kids who entered our BELIEVE contest to join us for the first two weekends of our holiday shows because their work is important and we are so thankful they shared it with us.  Check out two new contests for teens HERE and please enjoy your holidays together with us!


Many thanks to Chooze Shoes and Accessories for providing custom gifts for each of our our grand prize winners. choozeshoes.com