Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

Young Schaeffer Playwright Comes Full Circle


Playwright Philip Schaeffer is a young professional, but he has a long history at DCT. His parents are Nancy and Karl Schaeffer, who were among DCT’s first employees over thirty years ago. He talked with us a little about growing up at DCT, and his inspiration for THE GHOSTS OF SLEEPY HOLLOW.




What was it like to grow up at DCT? Can you share a favorite memory?

Growing at up at DCT was awesome!  I have too many favorite memories to choose from, though, appropriately for the season, I will say that I always particularly enjoyed when the Halloween shows would roll around.  When it comes to scary stories, I always found live theater much spookier than movies or TV could be.

What was your involvement in performing at DCT as a teen?

I was in the old Crescent Players class when I was a teenager, which was the forerunner to the Teen Conservatory classes they offer now.  And I was also in several of the video camps and classes as a teenager, which is where I think I started to realize how much I enjoyed writing scripts.

What do you enjoy when it comes to writing for teens? Is it different than writing for adult performers?

I did not write THE GHOSTS OF SLEEPY HOLLOW any differently than I would have for adult performers.  I feel like teenagers are more than capable of rising to the occasion and performing challenging material (far more challenging material than this play) when given the opportunity and some guidance, so I never even considered that I was writing for youth performers.

Why were you particularly interested in the stories of Washington Irving?

Washington Irving was the first American author, and his stories influenced not only American literature, but the literature of the Old World as well, particularly depictions of the supernatural and spectacular.  I’ve also always been fascinated by the earliest days of American history, and Washington Irving is a great source for those kind of stories.

Are there other projects on the horizon you can tell us about?

Nothing I’m cleared to talk about at the moment, but lots of fun stuff percolating!

How did growing up at DCT influence your career and professional decisions?

Growing up at DCT certainly set me on the path to working in the entertainment industry.  It taught me how much fun it could be to try and tell stories in dramatic and exciting ways, and how much work goes into putting on an excellent dramatic experience for the audience.

Philip Schaeffer’s THE GHOSTS OF SLEEPY HOLLOW is running now through October 30 with DCT’s Teen Scene Players. Check out this fabulous teen talent now, because they are obviously going to go on to great things!

Get your tickets today at www.dct.org

Trying to raise “fancy” boys

I grew up with two older brothers, so I thought I knew boys. It turns out that as379086_10150514153464347_1895295255_n a little sister, I could get away with a lot more than I can with the two boys I am raising.  My big brothers let me put pink and yellow bow clips in their hair as long as they didn’t have to get up from the couch. My older brother would look at himself in the mirror, strike a pose, and say, “ooh, I’m so fancy.”  It made me laugh.

With our boys, if we ever suggest going out to eat, my ten-year-old says, “I don’t want to go some place fancy.” By this, he means any place where you sit down with a menu.  We often insist that we are going to go to a “fancy” place anyway. Along those lines, there are some other “fancy” traits that I want to pass along to my boys.

299830_10150330523199347_954563233_n1.“Please” and “Thank You”

Whether it’s a stranger serving you at a fancy restaurant with a menu or your dad bringing you some chocolate milk, it’s important to take the time to acknowledge the gesture.

2.  Smile

We’re nearing the age where the favorite form of non-verbal communication with the ten-year-old is an eye roll, and the six-year-old pouts his lip out so far that I’m afraid I’ll trip over it. I immediately take a picture of their surly face and show it back to them and say, “is this how you smile?” It still gets a laugh, and laughs are contagious.

3. Manners

Manners still go a long way. I was a bit of a tomboy myself. Actually, I was a total tomboy, but I never relished in the joy they do with burping. My husband, their father and role model, then shows them that he can burp louder. That doesn’t help. Sometimes the best I can do is remind them that there’s a time and place for everything, and make sure all of them say “excuse me.”

4. Eye Contact

Sometimes I just need them to look at me, but there are so many other places 10556230_10152858762599347_1282366919504768721_ntheir eyes can be. It’s hard to compete with all the screens. Sometimes, we use the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach, and pile up on the couch with them, but sometimes we have to shut everything down, against their will and just look at their face, and talk to them.

5. Poise

This is a big, fancy word, and perhaps the most difficult. It’s hard to teach attitude, especially in the face of disappointment. You never wish for your kids to be disappointed, but you also know it’s a necessary lesson to learn. Like our friend Fancy Nancy, they have to learn to walk tall, sure of who they are with no resentment for those around them who might have more than they have. Nancy teaches all of us that we can’t always be the star. There is, as Nancy discovers, often great joy in just being who you are.

Fancy is more than feather boas and tiaras. A grown-up tomboy like me can learn to be confident in high heels, and two rambunctious boys can learn how to behave with grace. Fancy is part of the journey, friends, but totally worthwhile. Au revoir!

So, remember to bring your boys and girls to see Fancy Nancy:  The Musical while you still have a chance.  The show runs through October 25 and tickets can be purchased at dct.org!

Young Designers Sparkle on Stage


Claire Spigel and Alyssa Morales.

After pouring over almost a hundred design submissions, our production team selected the Shark design of Claire Spigel and the Mermaid design of Alyssa Morales. These prize-winning designers had a workshop with resident designer, Lyle Huchton, and the final results for the production of FANCY NANCY: THE MUSICAL were over the top with all the twinkle you would expect from fanciest girl who ever danced as a tree and a slippery singing shark.

We talked to Claire and Alyssa about their inspiration, and their experience.

Claire, what inspired your Shark design?

WinnerSharkThe inspiration for my Shark design was the Maki shark. It’s a beautiful shade of blue and has a pointed nose which I thought would be cute incorporated into a hood. Additionally, since the costume was meant for a shark ballet, I made sure to design it to be very movable and easy to work in. 


Alyssa, what sparked your idea for the Mermaid?

WinnerMermaidWhen I was little and learned how to draw, my favorite thing to draw was mermaids. I always drew mermaids. My inspiration came from that and the Fancy Nancy books. I loved reading Fancy Nancy when I was younger. She’s always fancy so I had to make my mermaid extra fancy. 


Claire, tell us a little bit about your one-on-one workshop experience with Lyle.DSCN2169

During my workshop with Lyle, I learned more about all of the work and planning beforehand that goes into designing a big, colorful show like Fancy Nancy. We talked about his process and how the costume gets from the page to the stage, which was very informative to learn about. 

What did you learn in your workshop, Alyssa?

DSCN2178I learned that there is a lot more that goes into being a costume designer than I thought, but it’s also cooler than I thought. I loved being in the design room! Makes me want to be a designer even more. I also learned that it’s ok to be shy. 



Claire, on your entry form, we asked how you could be happy for your friends when they got something you wanted, and you said, “Their happiness is my happiness.” We know this is a lesson Fancy Nancy has to learn, but what did you mean by that?

What I meant by “their happiness is my happiness” is that friendship is a DSCN2173partnership based on trust and mutual respect, knowing that the other person will have your back and be there for you. When one friend receives something that the other wanted, it’s the other friend’s responsibility to be there for them and support them, because they trust one another to do so. And when the other friend is supportive, then they too can get enjoyment from seeing their friend succeed. Additionally, when another similar occasion arises, the other friend will be more likely to support the friend that supported them. 

Alyssa explains her feelings about her friends very simply.

I want God to bless my friends and for them to be happy. I want them to be safe and for them to do good.DSCN2181

The Mermaid and Dancing Shark are scene-stealers, but the show is ultimately about supporting your friends and being the best at who you are. All of the designs, and the amazing cast of characters will take your breath away and inspire you to be the best friend you can be, now through October 25.