Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

A Sensory Show You Won’t Want to Miss featuring The Cat in the Hat, JoJo, Horton and Palmer…

Imagine for a second, that you’re a parent to a brand new baby. But your excitement and joy are overcome by worry and concern, because your beautiful baby was born at only 24 weeks, weighs only 1 lb 4 oz, and is on life support. You have numerous surgeries and procedures ahead of you, and all that leads to sensory challenges and sensitivities for the rest of your baby’s life.For Palmer and his mother, Lisa Lee, this is reality. But his sensitivities to loud noises and bright lights aren’t stopping Palmer from anything.

1As a young boy, Palmer and his mother were Ambassadors for March of Dimes. They traveled around Texas sharing his story and his struggles to help raise awareness for the research and medical advances that helped save his life. Lisa would tell his story, and then bring him up on stage so the audience could see how well he was doing. “His first appearance was at 1 ½ years old. Once he had the microphone, he didn’t want to put it down. He even clapped along with the audience back then!” said Lee.

At 3-years-old, Palmer began memorizing Dr. Seuss’s books, and even dressed up as The Cat in the Hat for Halloween when he was 8. “He would dress up in costume and act out different scenes from [Dr. Seuss’s] books with his Seuss stuffed animals,” said Lee. “Drama is his favorite class in school.” Now as a 16-year-old student at Oak Hill Academy, Palmer has participated in the talent show and school plays for the past nine years.

Lee heard about DCT as a great place for kids to see musicals from her brother and nephew. While they were attending a traditional show, Lee heard about the sensory-friendly shows. “Palmer always wore headphones to the movies when he wa2s younger to block out the excessive noise, but with the sensory-friendly shows at DCT, that hasn’t been an issue because they keep the sound levels lower than regular performances,” Lee said. Over the years, they have attended 15 shows at DCT, including five sensory-friendly performances.

The family was ecstatic when they learned that DCT would begin offering Academy classes for youth with autism, Down syndrome, sensory processing disorders, and other special needs. During the summer of 2016, Palmer and 16 other students enrolled in the Blue Pegasus Players program. Six professional teaching artists guided the students through exercises designed to enhance individual creativity and increase their understanding of the elements of theater.

“It’s been so great for Palmer to be a part of these drama classes. Feeling included is priceless. Sometimes when you have learning differences or sensory issues, you don’t fit in a traditional class, so this has helped his confidence and given him a ch3ance to do something he loves with his peers,” said Lee.

At the end of the summer, Academy students put on a showcase performance for parents, and Palmer chose to sing a song from SEUSSICAL™—which happens to be the first show in DCT’s 2016-2017 lineup. Nancy Schaeffer is the director of that show, and the Education Director at DCT, and saw an opportunity to create a different kind of theater magic.

Rehearsal time is precious for actors, but Schaeffer knew the SEUSS cast being treated to an exclusive special performance from Palmer was a moment not to be missed. So, she invited him to sing after a rehearsal in mid September. The cast, including two of Palmer’s teachers from summer classes, looked on and listened in awe.

Palmer touts the sensory-friendly offerings at DCT, saying “I have always loved coming to the shows at DCT and the sensory shows make it more comfortable for me. And now I love being in drama classes at DCT too and getting to be on stage!”

Palmer will return to the DCT stage on October 15, after the sensory-friendly performance to sing his song for the audience.

Learn more about DCT’s sensory-friendly shows here and sensory classes here.

Why we all go Who-Who over Seuss!

Dr. Seuss is a household name. So much so that when I just misspelled “Suess,” my computer knew to correct me. Dr. Seuss. So much so that in the middle of summer, my seven-year-old still insists on reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, explaining that the Grinch thought Christmas was all about presents. Dr. Seuss’s bouncing words are encrypted with life lessons that have resonated with generations of children. But don’t take my word for it. I’ve visited with a few Seuss experts, and I’d like to share what they had to say.

My former boss, Pet1er Brosius, is Artistic Director of Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) in Minneapolis.  Long the only theatre in the U.S.A. with permission to develop original productions based on his works, CTC has a special relationship with Dr. Seuss. Peter explains, “CTC has been attracted to the work of Dr. Seuss since the beginning. He revolutionized children’s literature and challenged young people to thrill at the power of their own imaginations. It has been a pleasure to celebrate the insights, the humanity, and the incredible wit of Dr. Seuss by sharing his work with thousands of theatergoers over our 50 years.”

Second graders from DISD a2re going to be coming to see SEUSSICAL™ this season, along with many other students. It felt only natural to talk to a teacher about Dr. Seuss, and the impact his work has on students.

Aaron Richards, Music Director at Kleberg Elementary in DISD was all too happy to share his thoughts. Mr. Richards shared, “Dr. Seuss teaches lifelong lessons such as: how to take care of the environment, being yourself, it’s okay to be different, we all have different, yet amazing paths in life.”

Those are intense lessons, you know?

Mr. Richards is excited about bringing his students to see SEUSSICAL™ at Dallas Children’s Theater. He continues, “The stories and characters are silly, strange and interesting!  They even entertain adults! MY music students will get to practice their audience etiquette and enjoy a different type of show than they are used to!  I hope they enjoy the music, costumes and story.”

Finally, of course, we had to talk to a parent. My friend Kim Lyle is bringing her daughter to see SEUSSICAL™, so I thought of her first when I needed to talk to a parent expert.

Kim says,3 “Anna loves the rhythm of Dr. Seuss. The silly words and the active drawings. I remember reading Green Eggs and Ham a lot when I was a kid. I feel like I can recite that one without reading the words. I really love doing voices for all the different characters in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. It’s like an acting exercise, and she enjoys hearing me be silly. She just got into Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, and it starts conversations about being alone and possibly lost and finding your own way. We talk about being independent and brave.”

I asked Kim if she was excited about bringing Anna to SEUSSICAL™ and she quickly responded, “ABSOLUTELY! She can’t wait for her next show. I love to see her face, her eyes when she sees the lights and the costumes. She’s transported. If it’s anything like previous shows, we’ll likely have to buy the soundtrack! I want it to spark conversation and new ideas in her little head, and I know it will.”

Well, there you have it, in case there was any doubt, Dr. Seuss is a rock star. Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, incidentally, is the yearly theme at my seven-year-old’s elementary school. The whole building is filled with Dr. Seuss, and it’s never felt like a happier place. SEUSSICAL™ is going to make DCT a happier place, if that’s possible. Make sure you bring your kids to see it now through October 23. Then, prepare yourself for a fantastical ride home!



For ticket information, go to dct.org