Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

For Philip Schaeffer, it’s a family affair.

Folks who know DCT might recognize Philip Schaeffer, or at least recognize his parents, Nancy and Karl Schaeffer, from the halls of the theater. We interviewed the Schaeffer parents, asking what their favorite Philip/DCT memory was, and their answers did not disappoint!

The Schaeffer family (l to r) Nancy, Philip, Teri Meador (Karl’s sister), Karl and his mom, Barbara.

Young Nancy (far right) in BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER

Nancy: “Philip was a very young (too young) baby angel one of the first times we did BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER. He laid on his tummy during Silent Night (supposed to be the quiet part of the show), and he used his halo as a steering wheel and pretended to drive. I was on stage as Beth – a teen – not his mom, and I could do nothing to stop it. The audience laughed and laughed. He got the bug then.

Philip (on the bottom right) in BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER (1990-1991 season)

And then years later, when he was older, he was actually working in the Box Office for BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT and one of the Herdmen got sick during the show. I grabbed him out of the Box Office during intermission, threw a robe on him, and had him go onstage as The Wise Man who brings a ham for the Baby Jesus. He ran onstage with the ham with the robe pulled down over his face so that the audience would not notice the switch.  But when he kneeled next to the manger in prayer, one of the little lambs who knew Philip as an assistant in our summer classes, leaned over and said to him “Philip, you did that wrong!” Philip had to try to hide his shaking shoulders as he was cracking up on stage. So that was a moment when he was the one laughing at an inopportune time!”

Young Karl with a youth cast in BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER

Karl: “My favorite memory of Philip was actually captured on video. Philip was four and a half years old at the time. We did a production of TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING in Feb.- Mar. of 1989. In the play, a birthday party is described, so we filmed a short birthday party scene. Philip played one of the party guests. He also must have seen the play many times.

Little brother Anthony Schaeffer as a Christmas Angel

Three months later, I videotaped Philip acting out a 14-minute version of that play. He played my part in the show and Nancy and his baby brother Anthony were drafted to play other characters. I was impressed that he remembered so many plot details and conveyed many of the emotions from the play. I’m sure growing up around Dallas Children’s Theater had a powerful influence on him and on his creativity, and I so enjoyed videotaping Philip at play.”

Young Karl with cast members in TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING

Philip Schaeffer’s latest play is streaming now on DCT Digital. Check out THE RAVEN SOCIETY starring DCT’s Teen Scene Players before it closes on Halloween night!


Streaming October 23-31
Ages 9 and up
Cost: As low as $10







                                               Watch Party!

All ticket buyers will receive a link to join us Friday, October 30th at 7PM for THE RAVEN SOCIETY Watch Party, a virtual ghostly gathering hosted by the playwright, Philip Schaeffer, where we’ll watch and discuss clips from the show (recommended for ages 9 and up), talk to the cast & crew about how it was made, swap our favorite scary stories & legends (just like in summer camp!), and there may be a few other mysterious surprises around the corner (but who…and where…?). Invite your friends to this fun, interactive event, and let’s all have a spine-chilling good time!

Photos courtesy of the Schaeffer family and by Robin Sachs

From baby angels to Edgar Allen Poe, meet the DCT-born-and-raised author of The Raven Society!

Folks who know DCT might recognize Philip Schaeffer, or at least recognize his parents, Nancy and Karl Schaeffer, from the halls of the theater. We interviewed Philip about his DCT journey and of course, Poe. Read on…

What makes this show special? Why will DCT/Dallas audiences love it?

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” is among greatest works in American literature, and The Raven Society presents a new way to experience this poem for the modern day.

Edgar Allan Poe

What do you appreciate most about Edgar Allen Poe?

Poe is a master of atmosphere, especially when it comes to the macabre. So naturally I’m a big fan!

Would you say you two have anything in common?

We both have strange hair styles.

You’ve performed in 18 DCT productions – that’s quite a number! What has been your favorite DCT production?

It is very hard to pick, but of shows I performed in, I’d have to say The Hound of the Baskervilles — the spookiest of Sherlock Holmes tales!

Philip and the Cast of GHOULS AND GRAVEYARDS

With Nancy and Karl as parents, we can appreciate how you got into theater. What led you to a particular interest in playwriting?

I’ve always loved reading a script and imagining what the production would be like, so writing my own plays to imagine seemed like a logical next step!

This will be your third Halloween show written for DCT, can you tell us a little bit about the difference between writing a scary show for children vs. for adults? Is there a difference?

There probably should be, but I don’t really change things very much. People of all ages enjoy scary stories after all.

left to right Grace, Judge and Philip

Besides the family connection, what do you think is special about the DCT experience?

DCT has always put a focus on imagination, creativity, and storytelling. Whether you’re watching a play, acting in one, or taking a class, you’re exercising a part of your mind that otherwise wouldn’t be used.

What have been the challenges associated with producing a Halloween show for a virtual audience?

Fortunately I only had to write it, so it’s up to the production team to actually make things work! But the main challenge on my end was finding a way to capture the feeling of the poem using a Zoom call as the storytelling format. Hopefully audiences will enjoy!

Mark your calendar now to watch Philip Schaeffer’s THE RAVEN SOCIETY starring DCT’s Teen Scene PlayersStreaming October 23-31
Ages 9 and up
Cost: As low as $10



                                              Watch Party!

All ticket buyers will receive a link to join us Friday, October 30th at 7PM for THE RAVEN SOCIETY Watch Party, a virtual ghostly gathering hosted by the playwright, Philip Schaeffer, where we’ll watch and discuss clips from the show (recommended for ages 9 and up), talk to the cast & crew about how it was made, swap our favorite scary stories & legends (just like in summer camp!), and there may be a few other mysterious surprises around the corner (but who…and where…?). Invite your friends to this fun, interactive event, and let’s all have a spine-chilling good time!

Photos courtesy of Nancy Schaeffer and via Pixabay

DCT Friends, Please Raise Your Voice in Support of the Arts!

DCT Friends, we need your help! Right now, the arts is one of the vital sectors of our country in need of a lifeline.  Simply put, we need a hero.

In normal times, arts and culture accounts for 5.1 million jobs and 4.5% of the U.S. economy. If you’ve been touched by a play at Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) or your child has benefited from one of our classes; or if you’re a teacher that loves a field trip to DCT or the parent of a child who’s experienced sensory-friendly classes and shows at DCT, please consider raising your voice in support of the future wellbeing and vibrancy of the creative economy.

The DAWN Act is a bill that would provide grants to organizations like DCT and the actors we employ to help address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our livelihoods and the in-person work we do. Reaching out to one of the Senators below would be a great way to cast a vote in support of arts organizations and the actors who make this work possible.

We know that many areas of our economy are suffering right now, and we just don’t want to be left out. That’s why we are reaching out to our most invested stakeholders with a request that you consider joining this nationwide effort in support of the arts.  Simply think about the impact the arts have had on your family’s life, what life would be like if we were not there and communicate that to:

The Honorable Ted Cruz The Honorable John Cornyn
US Senate US Senate
Washington, DC Washington, DC

Thank you,

Robyn, Artie, Nancy, Sandra

P.S.  We miss you all, and we look forward to seeing you at the theater again soon.  In the meantime, thanks so much for your support and for being an arts hero!

Photo Credits: Clarice Sayles, Lisel Simmons, and Lawrence Jenkins

Blue Pegasus Player (BPP) star shares memorable moments…

Maddie and her mom talk about their great moments at DCT!

Maddie (black boots) does her thing on the mainstage as part of NEXT STOP BROADWAY.

Each year, DCT’s musical theater students, directed by Education Director Nancy Schaeffer and Director of Musical Theater Doug Miller, grace the Baker Theater stage and regale audiences with a fun musical review. This year’s NEXT STOP BROADWAY performance included some very special guests. Four performers from the Blue Pegasus Players (BPP) program joined in on the fun! 

BPP began in 2016 as part of DCT’s sensory-friendly initiative. Described as “a creative dramatics program for young actors with unique minds, talents and imaginations”, BPP provides children with sensory processing disorders and special needs a dedicated space to experience the kind of drama education DCT is known for.

Maddie posing for photos with BBP classmates after one of their shows.

Many performers, like Maddie Raymond, have spent years with BPP and were ready to perform on the “big stage!”

“So, I was in “Warts and All”, which is a song from HONK which is a British play. I was a froglet. I had fun being a froglet. Everyone was super nice. I was in this big thing. But I felt like I fit in, like with my people. I love acting, I love the theater, I love to sing. And that was just really good. I felt like it was my atmosphere” said Maddie.

Maddie pictured with her mom, Camille

Maddie’s mom, Camille Raymond, also had a lot to say about Maddie’s involvement with NEXT STOP BROADWAY. “Oh, that was amazing! Just her energy and excitement…I’m going to admit that she was a very cute froglet, too. Maddie is highly functioning autistic and because of that, for the most part her biggest thing is just keeping her focused and feeling comfortable to do what she wants to do. I remember when she was [a] little girl, and she was excited about being here, and at that time it had never occurred to me that she could be a part of Dallas Children’s Theater. She could be on the big stage…and I am so glad to see that she is able to do things that we never thought was possible.”

Maddie seizing her Kodak moment, always.

Maddie and her fellow Blue Pegasus Players expressed their delight at being in the spotlight of the Baker Theater, where so many of DCT’s beloved shows have been performed

“Well, I always wanted to perform on the big stage, and, well, [I] got the shot, and…just…dream come true for me” said Palmer Lee, who has been with BPP since it first began.

When asked if she would choose to do this again, Maddie was quick to say “yes!” 

Maddie in her element in one of the BPP shows

“Actually, after the last NEXT STOP BROADWAY, I begged Mister Doug ‘You have to find a way for me to come back! You have to!’ I had so much fun.”

For decades Dallas Children’s Theater has been dedicated to providing an inspiring theater experience for all children, and continues to do so while expanding opportunities for children with special needs. Whether through sensory-friendly adapted professional performances or classes specifically designed for those with sensory needs to inclusion with the NEXT STOP BROADWAY performance, children with special needs are welcome to participate in what DCT does best!

Maddie sums it up perfectly:

“I had fun…but, just do your best at it…and, it’s OK to be different. I mean, I have been different all my life, and so…it’s ok to do that. This is a place where they say ‘You’re unique. Come to us’.”

Maddie among teachers and classmates at DCT

To learn more the sensory-friendly programs at DCT, please visit this page and this page.

Photos: Karen Almond, DCT staff, and courtesy of Camille Raymond

The power of creativity…

Memorable Moments at DCT: Busy mom Leah Mora tells her story.

Leah and Laurel Mora

We want to thank all of you who are taking the opportunity during these challenging times to share your DCT stories with us. Enjoy the perspective of yet another wonderful DCT Mom. Read on…

How did you originally come to know about DCT?

My family and I moved to Dallas and were interested in finding enrichment activities for our children. Dallas Children’s Theater was close to our new home, and I drove past it on numerous occasions, so I decided to look into their programming. I was delighted to find out that they not only offered multiple premier stage productions throughout the year, but also provided an array of wonderful classes for children. I signed mine up right away.

What is your most meaningful memory of Laurel at DCT?

The Mora Family

I am fortunate to have many great memories of Laurel at DCT, and it is a bit difficult to select only one. We have had the privilege of watching many great productions, and Laurel has participated in most of the classes offered at DCT, and she has truly benefitted from their engaging and professional instruction. She has also had lots of fun while learning. I thoroughly enjoyed her spooky portrayal of La LLorona in the Ghouls and Graveyards production, but my most meaningful memory was of Laurel performing in the Next Stop Broadway production. This was a moment when Laurel was able to be a part of a large production that celebrated all things musical theater. She loves the experience of performing on stage, and this production was a musical extravaganza.

What is valuable about taking your kid to a DCT production rather than watching a movie or TV?

The value of taking my children to a DCT production is being a part of a wonderfully creative process that we can experience together. DCT does a fantastic job of telling meaningful stories onstage that resonate with everyone. They are brave with the stories they select to perform and are inclusive and community oriented. The actors perform onstage but also throughout the entire theater giving audience members an opportunity to become truly engaged in real time. My son enjoyed this aspect of the performances. Audience members are immersed in a fun live experience that has the power to be educational and transformative. We felt this way watching Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet.

The littlest Mora

What do you think is special about the DCT experience, and why do you continue to come back to productions?

It was evident from the moment I spoke to Terry who helped me sign Laurel up for her very first class at DCT that this organization was warm and centered around focusing on the individual. Every class that my children participated in had an instructor who cared about each and every individual child and did their best to bring out the best of their personality and nature onstage. DCT instructors engage students in a gentle and supportive manner that allows for each student to shine brightly. They meet the student where they are and encourage them to be their best. It was remarkable to me and a testament to DCT’s creative teachings.

We continue to come back to productions because DCT is a powerhouse of creativity and kindness and generosity to its community. All of the many productions that we have had the privilege of seeing told an important message and allowed for insightful family discussions. Productions are fun and entertaining and fill the soul. DCT takes pride in what they do and they do it very well!

Would you like to add anything else?

The Mora Family at DCT

I am very grateful for having discovered DCT because it has made a substantial impact in my family’s life. DCT has provided a wonderfully safe place for children and families to learn and grow and to be entertained by meaningful stories performed in a beautiful manner. DCT has personally fostered my daughter’s love for the performing arts and their instructors have helped her hone her craft over the years, so much so that she is pursuing a Theatre Arts – Playwriting education in New York. Thank you DCT!

Missed Laurel’s Memorable Moments? Catch up here!

Photos courtesy of Leah Mora