Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

Adrian Churchill talks about being a man among bunnies

KA1_8440THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT has been a hit among families, and Adrian Churchill plays the part of Mr. McGregor with “comic verve” according to The Dallas Morning News. Adrian has been working very hard to keep Peter away from singing vegetables, and we were able to visit him briefly about his co-stars.

SW: When we watch PETER RABBIT, it seems that you are all interacting so naturally. Adrian, what is it like being the only human on stage?

AC: I love being the only human on stage with these puppets. It feels like I’m living in my own childhood’s imagination. Peter Rabbit is a very real foe and gives me quite a workout. The main thing to remember as a performer is to treat the puppet as a fellow actor on stage. Always address the puppet, not the puppeteer.

SW: Is this your first time co-starring with a puppet?

AC: I have been onstage with puppets before (in a production of PINOCCHIO) however that show had other humans in it.

SW: We have all experienced the magic of Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts from the audience. Can you talk about the magic of the puppetry from your perspective?

AC: What I find magical is watching the show from backstage. The sheer traffic madness is amazing to see and the commitment of each puppeteer to their own character is fantastic. What a great group of theater artists they all are.

Peter Rabbit for DMNSW: We know the role is physically for the puppeteers backstage. What physical requirements for this role have been very unique for you compared to other roles?

AC: This has been a very demanding show for me physically. I’m a big round guy and I run and run and run after that rabbit only to be interrupted by two (out of breath) songs that I sing.

SW: What is one of your favorite things about the show?

AC: I must say that B. Wolf’s little operetta score to this show is just so wonderful! It has a depth to it both musically and lyrically that you just don’t see much of these days. It is both detailed and full.

Adrian, Peter and Peter’s rabbit family will be romping through the garden through April 5. On Easter Weekend, the Easter Bunny will be on hand to greet families and grant each child their own candy-filled egg. We hope you’ll make plans to come see the entire cast soon!

The Perils of Puppetry and why kids don’t listen to their mothers


I got to walk in on a rehearsal for PETER RABBIT yesterday and it was absolutely breathtaking.  The stage was completely full and Mr. McGregor’s garden was massive and  so beautiful.  Peter was talking about temptation and how hard it is to be good.

I can appreciate the lure and the power of temptation that Peter experiences, but his mom is just trying to keep him safe; something all moms seek to do.  In KA1_8283this case, Peter’s mom isn’t worried about skinned knees or even broken bones, she is worried that he will get picked up by the farmer and baked into a pie.  She’s not being paranoid or overprotective either, she’s worried because that’s exactly what happened to Peter’s father!  Fact: if you are caught by the farmer, you will be eaten.

So remind me, Peter, why it’s so hard.  Is that cabbage or carrot or whatever really going to be worth the risk to your cute little furry self?  Apparently, it is.

So far, I have not been able to lure my kids away from an activity by telling them they’ll be baked into a pie, but still, somehow my telling them not to do something makes it all the more appealing.  I think the same is true with Peter.  If mom says not to do it, it MUST be good, because obviously mom doesn’t want me to have any fun, ever!

I can’t wait to bring my kids to see THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT. Not only am I hoping they’ll learn something about listening to their parents, but I just know they are going to love the show.  But the mom part of me that worries will just be thinking of my friend Trish backstage, and all the Cirque de Soleil-type acrobatics they’re having to do backstage to make Peter and his family come to life onstage.

KA1_8364This version of PETER RABBIT employs multiple puppet forms with a relatively small team of puppeteers juggling materials and characters backstage. My friend, Master Puppeteer Trish Long explains, “Of all the Kathy Burks shows I have participated in, this is by far the biggest. The challenge for me is that depending on what puppet stage we are on, I do a different character each time. So going from one personality to another in a fast- paced atmosphere can be challenging. Running up and down the bridge of the marionette stage is quite a workout as well. When I change from doing the black theater with hood and gloves, and then run up to the bridge I have to always make a mental note of where I left those items, so that they are in the same place when I switch back and have to use them again.”

You’re doing what?  Running? In the dark? Going up ladders with gloves? Running up ladders in the dark with a hood over your head?  No, Trish, NO! I’ve told her several times that I’m going to call her mom and tattle on her, but I guess she’s a grown up and a “Master Puppeteer” so I have to assume she knows what she’s doing.

Careers my children are not allowed to pursue:

Shark Dentist
Rodeo Clown
Stunt Pilot
Master Puppeteer

It’s always so hard to balance the need to keep those you love safe and wanting them to experience life at its fullest, take risks, and try something new.  Often dangers aren’t spelled out so clearly as they are in Mr. McGregor’s garden, so we just have to follow our gut sometimes and revel in the beauty when we get to see art with an element of danger carried out effortlessly.  Every parent will be able to relate to Peter’s poor mom with her premature white whiskers.  We’re all just trying our best to be good.

And just so you have the opportunity to appreciate the craziness that you don’t see behind the scenes, check out this video.  Hats off to you Puppeteers!  Be careful out there!

THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT runs from March 13 to April 5.  To purchase tickets call 214-740-0051 or visit dct.org.

Vegetables: The Perfect Cure for Winter Cabin Fever…But Only If They Talk!

store2(Written on March 2, 2014 before the weather bottom really fell out in Dallas.)

I have heard that if you dont like the weather in Texas, just wait two hours and it will be different.   But after spending four and a half hours in the car recently to go ten miles due to the crazy weather conditions, Im starting to think this might just be a saying, and not actually scientific fact.

To be sure, this mom has never been more ready for spring. The FB parent groups were hysterical over the weekend with what do we do with our kids?  Everyone was trapped at home for several days and running out of things to do.  There were lots of great suggestions: homemade play dough, finger painting, baking cookies, but after a few hours, we were feeling desperate again.  My boys invented a game called pillow boxingand I was all for it, but in the end, it was hard work competing with the satisfaction both parent and child feel getting outside!

Its not like fun winter weather, either.  Theres no sledding, no snowballs, and even if the snow had stuck, we dont have those kind of winter clothes here.  Wed have to resort to the ziplock bag over mittens (or vice versa) for them to even be able to touch the snow without getting sick.

Next week is spring break, but I still cant stomach the idea of sending them outside.  The grassis a brown wet bog of mud and straw that will most likely turn to quicksand if they step on it.  11042668_10152731651026732_154716678822933005_n

This year Ive decided to pay no attention to the groundhog. Instead Im going to listen to the rabbit.  Thats Peter Rabbit.  Nothing looks  more like spring now than Mr. McGregors garden.  The vegetables are colorful, vibrant, and they are so happy spring is here, and they will tell you themselves in this most fun version of Beatrix Potters cautionary tale. 

Sometimes when the outdoors isnt cooperating the way we want it to, you have to create the ideal outdoor world inside, and thats what DCT has done with THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT.  So if you dont like the weather in Texas, just wait until March 13 and join us at DCT for some springtime fun with your favorite naughty bunny.   

Not only will we have talking vegetables on March 13s Opening Night, but Urban Acres Farmstead will have some actual organic vegetables for kids to dmn-UrbanAcres-2013-Ben-Torres-freelancehold and information on the process that brought them to life.  I cant wait for my picky eater to actual hold a vegetable in the flesh.  Think of it as a petting zoo for veggies.  Kids may say vegetables arent fun, but theyll definitely change their mind after one night on the farm with Peter Rabbit.  Please join us for the opening or any time during the run.  Shows run through Easter Weekend-April 4 and 5! For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.   

P.S. For pillow boxing to work, they have to use full-size bed pillows with pillow cases.  Couch pillows dont have nearly the same destructive effect, trust me.