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

dct.org/teen/digital

 

 

 

 

 


                                               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

dct.org/teen/digital

 


                                              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

Always a part of the fabric…

Memorable Moments at DCT: Ms Laurel speaks.

by Laurel Mora

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. Laurel’s evolution at DCT is a great one. Read on…

How has your growing up in the DCT community shaped you?

Oddly enough, I don’t remember how Dallas Children’s Theater came into our family’s life. It’s one of those few things in life that has been a part of me for so long that I forgot how exactly my journey with them started. I consider DCT to be like a second home to me.

Laurel as La Llorona in GHOULS AND GRAVEYARDS

Even in my more brooding teenage years, I always knew that I was welcomed there. Now that most of my teenage angst has worn off, I can properly appreciate the impact DCT has had on my life. I started attending classes not too long after my family moved to Dallas. I was, and still am, a shy kid, but DCT was the first place where I started opening up. DCT was the first place where I exercised creative input by coming up with a villainous character for Karl Schaeffer’s Makin’ Movies class. The majority of my time outside of school was spent at DCT where I learned about everything from the costuming process to Shakespeare. In time, I did my part to give back by volunteering to usher and lead pre-show activities; things I always did with pride and joy. One teacher even helped me prepare to audition for my dream high school: Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Young Laurel

What is one specific moment from your experience at DCT that is meaningful to you?

I will always remember this one scene work class. I thought I was going to be missing for the final performance since my family was planning on traveling to Fort Lauderdale, FL that weekend. As a result, I was not assigned a final scene. Come the weekend of the final performance, I ended up staying home so I could audition for my school’s musical. The day of the performance, we found out that two of the students would not be showing up. In an instant, I went from only having a monologue to perform to suddenly having two scenes to perform. The performance went on without a hitch, and I ended up learning an important lesson as well. Like life, theater is all about rolling with the punches. Things don’t always go according to script, and you have to figure it out before the audience catches on.

What is your message to the teachers, actors, and employees who made your DCT experience memorable?

As I continued to grow older, the people at DCT continued to teach me important lessons. Once, we were all sitting in the audience chairs waiting for class to start. The teacher entered, and without a word, took a sip from his water bottle and proceeded to do a spit take in front of all of us. We all screamed in surprise before bursting into laughter.

Laurel and Family at DCT

That moment taught me that growing up doesn’t have to include giving up your inner child, and that theater doesn’t always have to be this gut-wrenching drama. Sometimes, it can be lighthearted and goofy and still send a message. These are all lessons that I carry with me even as I go to college to study playwriting in the theater capital of the world. My life would have been vastly different without DCT, and I will always be grateful for all that they have taught me.

Next week: Be on the lookout for what Laurel’s mom has to say about their family experience at DCT.

Photos courtesy of Laurel Mora

Memorable Moments at DCT – Mom and Dad speak…

Memorable Moments at DCT: Elizabeth’s parents, Tom and Valerie, share their recollections…Part 3

by Valerie and Tom Jiede

Valerie and Elizabeth after a performance of Pinkalicious: The Musical in 2016

We want to thank all of you who are taking the opportunity during these challenging times to share your DCT stories with us. Elizabeth and her family are great examples of the impact DCT has had on so many families. Read our final installment with the wonderful Jiede family.

How did you originally come to know about DCT?

Our daughter, Elizabeth, read Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly and Pinkalicious in class in the 1st grade. Once we saw that Dallas Children’s Theater was performing those productions, she was excited to see the stories performed on stage. We loved the Baker Theater, and the people we met starting with those first two performances were very friendly and welcoming to us. The actors were so talented, and watching them inject their own personalities to bring the characters to life really inspired her! From then on, we were frequent guests at DCT shows, bringing Elizabeth and our son, Henry, to as many shows as possible.

The Jiede family at Miracle on 34th Street in 2015

Both Elizabeth and Henry started enrolling in DCT camps for fun. Those early classes allowed them to choose a character to portray while collaborating with their fellow cast mates to write the plot of the adventure they would perform at the end of the week.

What is your most meaningful memory of your children at DCT?

Elizabeth started Musical Theater classes with Doug Miller in third grade. Little did we know that this new activity would turn into a lifelong love of musical theater! Not only did she quickly come to love acting, singing, and dancing, but she was also introduced to a close community of friends who loved to express themselves through theater. Many of these classmates are still her best friends today!

From her experiences with Mr. Doug, she was able to audition in the fourth grade for DCT’s holiday production of Miracle on 34th Street.  We were very excited to audition, having seen and loved their previous production of the show. So we were even more thrilled when she was cast as the character of Susan Walker in the show!

The whole Miracle experience was fantastic from the first audition to the closing curtain of the final performance. Elizabeth learned so much from DCT’s expert directors and the entire Miracle crew to prepare her to perform in such a high-quality production. She was mentored by an amazing, well-regarded cast of actors for this new experience. The entire crew of adult and child actors were so much fun and collaborative and became an instant family.

Elizabeth and Henry after Into The Woods, Jr. in 2019

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

We appreciate live theater for many reasons. First, it is good family time together away from our devices and screens where we can discuss the story line and performances in person. It is a more immersive form of entertainment where we participate more actively as an audience, taking in the talents of the live performers and the choices of the author, the director, and the musicians.

We also strongly believe that it helps us all learn empathy and compassion. By seeing the performers act out their roles in person, we better understand their personal motivations. In this divided world, those are very valuable traits to have and develop.

Elizabeth in Next Stop Broadway 2020

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

For our family, attending a DCT production is a magical experience.  It begins when we open the door to the theater building, seeing how DCT has transformed the performance into an event, with warm greetings, show-specific decorations, and sometimes even special pre-show entertainment. The experience is magical to us as frequent guests, and we know that the same magic is felt by everyone, whether new or experienced with DCT. We love DCT’s inclusiveness of reaching out to audience members who are attending their first show, those with special needs, and those who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to live theater without DCT’s help. The talented DCT staff has become a family to us over the years, and we miss seeing them in person!

How has your family’s involvement with DCT evolved over time?

Tom and Henry attending a DCT show in 2015

Our family’s participation with DCT has increased over the years.  We enjoy watching Elizabeth and now Henry grow in the Musical Theater Conservatory. Nancy Schaeffer and her team create a safe, nurturing environment for children to express their creativity while having an amazing experience. We enjoy attending as many shows as we can and look forward to future seasons.

Elizabeth’s training has prepared her well for additional DCT mainstage shows and summer productions. Both Elizabeth and Henry have continued Musical Theater training and perform in an annual Spring showcase called Next Stop Broadway. We are always blown away by the level of talent that Mr. Doug and his team produces with the Conservatory students!

We are so thankful to the entire DCT staff for developing our children into confident, kind, collaborative young adults!

Did you miss the past memorable moments with the Jiede family? Read Elizabeth’s post here, and Henry’s here.

Photos courtesy of Tom and Valerie Jiede

Memorable Moments at DCT – A little brother’s perspective…

Memorable Moments at DCT: Elizabeth’s 12-year-old brother, Henry, shares his perspective…Part 2

by Henry Jiede

Henry age 8 as Dachshund
in DCT Summer Camp

We want to thank all of you who are taking the opportunity during these challenging times to share your DCT stories with us. Elizabeth and her family are great examples of the impact DCT has had on so many families. Read on in our second installment with the wonderful Jiede family.

Henry age 9 as Cat in the Hat
in DCT Summer Camp

What is one specific moment from your experience at DCT that is meaningful to you?

I enjoy summer camps the best because they are fun. I work with really nice teachers like Ms. Linda and Mr. Doug. We get to choose our own characters and write the play that we perform at the end of the week. In my first year when I was really young, I chose to be Winnie the Pooh. In other years, I was an evil dachshund and an evil Cat in the Hat. Being evil is so much fun on stage! After my third grade year, I invited several of my school friends to summer camp with me to join my evil ways.

Why do you think live performances are better, and what are your favorite shows?

It’s more fun to see a show live rather than on TV. It’s more interactive to see the actors perform right in front of you. I also like meeting the actors after the show and taking pictures. I have a large collection of programs autographed by the actors!

Henry age 12 and Elizabeth age 14 with Nancy
Schaeffer after Next Stop Broadway in 2020

I have several favorite DCT shows. Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly was really funny and used the best jokes from the book. I invited a group of my school friends to see A Year With Frog and Toad for my birthday in first grade, and it was a great show. I enjoyed seeing my sister Elizabeth on on stage for Miracle on 34th Street. It’s one of my family’s favorite Christmas movies that we watch every year, but we enjoyed it on stage even more. My first grade class even got to go see her in it for our field trip!

What is your favorite part of DCT today?

Henry age 7, attending Miracle on 34th Street with parents

Now that I’ve started taking musical theater classes at DCT, I enjoy learning about acting and getting to perform. This year, I got to be part of Mr. Doug’s Next Stop Broadway show for the first time. It’s so much fun to be on the big stage performing our class number! At the end, all of the performers were out on stage for the bows, and the audience gave us all a standing ovation. It was awesome!

Missed Elizabeth’s Memorable Moments? Catch up here!

Photos courtesy of Henry Jiede

What Dallas Children’s Theater Means to Me…

Memorable Moments at DCT: Elizabeth’s story

by Elizabeth Jiede

What is one specific moment from your experience at DCT that is meaningful to you?

Elizabeth age 14, current photo

When I was in third grade, I enrolled in musical theater classes with Doug Miller for the first time. Prior to then, I had only thought of theater as a camp activity, as I had taken DCT’s summer camps every year. I soon learned that musical theater was a hobby and a passion of mine. That year, I attended class every Tuesday after school with Mr. Doug. I learned so much about acting, singing, and dancing and met so many friends in the process.

At the same time as my fall class, Dallas Children’s Theater held auditions for their Christmas musical, Miracle on 34th Street. We had learned about auditioning in our class, and we were encouraged to audition for the show. I had seen dozens of musicals on the mainstage before, and I could not believe that we had the opportunity to be a part of it. I was so excited to audition! I picked out a professional outfit and a Christmas song to sing (“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”) and went to the theater for the casting call. I saw so many of my friends there, and we all encouraged each other to “break-a-leg!” I was so nervous to audition, but I had a blast singing Christmas carols and reading lines as different characters.

Elizabeth, 14, and Mr. Doug from NEXT STOP BROADWAY in 202

A few days later, I was thrilled to know that I was cast in the show!  I was even going to play Susan Walker, one of the main parts! Taking a part in Miracle on 34th Street was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned so much about the magic of live theater and got to be a part of a wonderful, supportive community.

Elizabeth age 10, as Susan Walker in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

How has your growing up in the DCT community shaped you?

Growing up in the DCT community has truly shaped me into a better person. I have met so many people that have changed me for the better. Between the actors, the educators, the students, and the employees, everyone has a smile to share and a kind word to pass on. The staff members that work at Dallas Children’s Theater are all amazing role models, and I continuously strive to be like them. Even if I do not know all of them personally, I always feel valued when they take the time to ask how my day is or smile at me in the hallway before class or rehearsal starts.

What is your message to the teachers, actors, and employees who made your DCT experience memorable?

Elizabeth age 13, as Olive in MAGIC TREE HOUSE’S HOLIDAY MUSICAL: A GHOST TALE FOR MR. DICKENS

Looking back at the time I have spent at Dallas Children’s Theater, I realize how much my self-confidence has strengthened. Over the years, I have participated in three mainstage shows, two summer musicals, and five years of Next Stop Broadway. Because DCT gave me the opportunity to shine and a lot of encouragement, I was able to accomplish more than I thought I could.

Why do you think it is important that parents invest in their children going to DCT productions, classes, and camps?

Children and teenagers everywhere are still learning who they want to be and what they like to do. Investing in children going to DCT productions, classes, and camps provides a safe space for kids to make these discoveries. When I saw my first DCT show, A Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly, I realized how much I loved telling stories. As I got older, I explored various areas of storytelling: live theater, creative writing, and art. I was also inspired by the friendship of the characters on stage, just like in the books. Whenever I attend a DCT show, I love how every story has a lesson or a moral we can all learn from.

What do you hope the future of DCT looks like?

Elizabeth age 7, attending PINKALICIOUS at DCT

Even though we are living in uncertain times, we must remain hopeful until we can get back together again. The future of Dallas Children’s Theater is bright if we all do our part to help others. One day we will be able to step on the DCT stage and perform. One day we will again be able to come together and play “Zip-Zap-Zop”(a fun warmup exercise). One day we, as a community, will reunite.

 

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Jiede

Dr. Adam Mora: From the Board Room to the Front Lines

A DCT Hero Salute

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to ravage our country and state, it’s comforting to know that we do have heroes among us; selfless citizens who go above and beyond just to help keep our community moving forward. DCT Board Member Dr. Adam Mora is one of those people.

Not all heroes wear capes, headpieces, bullet-deflecting rings and bracelets, or carry swords and laser guns. Some of today’s heroes wear Personal Protective Equipment and grim, concerned expressions on their faces. They are the frontline healthcare workers who face life and death on a daily basis as the world battles the insidious coronavirus.

Dr. Adam Mora, Jr., MD, FCCP, probably doesn’t even consider himself to be a hero, but he is one. Dr. Mora is a Dallas pulmonologist and intensivist affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Baylor University Medical Center – Dallas, Baylor Scott, White Heart, and Vascular Hospital – Dallas. A pulmonologist specializes in the anatomy, physiology and pathology of the lungs, while an intensivist specializes in treating patients in intensive care. Dr. Mora’s work is vital in the battle against COVID-19. He works day and night and hasn’t had a day off since March 21. Even if he is free of clinical duties, there are virus related administrative duties that occur each day, even on weekends. He is never free of COVID.

Caring for patients on ventilators and addressing all forms of organ failures and infections while ensuring appropriate care with end-of-life issues carries a heavy toll.

“Before, families would be at bedsides and participate in rounds, learn basic medical information and what was normal or abnormal for their loved one, have consistent information from monitors, nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists all walking into a room and updating the family. They could pop their heads out of a room and ask questions. Now, they have to rely on phone calls and are limited to brief updates. Some cannot imagine what is actually happening – especially if they have never been in an ICU or seen a ventilator or continuous dialysis machine, for example,” said Dr. Mora. “We now have to paint a picture with our words as best we can.”

There is also the issue of trying to make time for his own family. Dr. Mora, along with his wife, Leah, have two children, Laurel (18) and Alex (11).

“Life at home has been an adjustment for everyone beginning with shelter in place,” said Mrs. Mora. “The biggest concern has focused on the longer hours Adam is away and the interruptions with a greater influx of meetings, phone calls, emails and texts, even when he is home. The biggest adjustments initially were related to ensuring the children felt safe with Dad coming home and doing everything possible to 1) not get infected or sick, and 2) not bringing COVID home and endangering them.”

Mrs. Mora takes pride in how her husband has risen to the challenge of these dire times.

“His dedication to ensuring the best care despite new obstacles to his workflow, as well as ensuring that a patient’s dignity and family support is maintained as much as possible, means everything,” she said. “He has taken on more tasks to ensure work processes are secured and has fought for communication with patients and their families – especially when related to end of life.” 

As the virus continues to grow, it’s difficult for the Mora’s to keep a normal family life. Both continue their service to Dallas Children’s Theater as members of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Mora even squeezed in a moment between patients to film an appearance on DCT’s Mouse Calls with Milo video series, dispensing important words about the importance of wearing masks and other safety precautions during the presence of COVID. (If you’d like to see Dr. Mora with Milo click here. )

“Basically, I have no other outlets,” says Dr. Mora. It’s work and home. I focus on our family and presently in helping our daughter transition to college in NYC amid the pandemic. We owe much of her success to DCT as her years spent there helped her achieve her acceptance to Fordham Lincoln Center’s playwriting program.” 

One of the main ways COVID has impacted the workflow of health care workers is the coldness that comes with wearing all of the Personal Protective Equipment creating even more distance between the doctor and the patient. The demand for teamwork and flexibility has increased exponentially, and personal fears of infection have to be overcome to care for extremely sick individuals. Healthcare workers are facing exhaustion physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, yet they continue to show up even when their own are battling the virus. Dr. Mora said the most difficult part is seeing patients die alone and speaking with families who are suffering and cannot be comforted other than with a distant phone call. 

As the pandemic  rages in Texas, many frontline healthcare workers battle fatigue, anxiety and depression. What gets him through the long days, the punishing work, the emotional challenges?

“We look to our successes – who leaves the ICU, who gets liberated from the ventilator – as big wins,” said Dr. Mora. “This is the most affirming part of the work to combat depression. I try each day to find a positive from COVID, be it more time spent at home having intimate family dinners rather than going out to a noisy restaurant, being able to take meetings from my home or office in more casual dress, or just accepting that I am still capable of being flexible and adapting to new challenges.”

The Mora family has been personally affected by the virus. Mrs. Mora lost a cousin in California. Her parents were infected, and her mother required hospitalization in El Paso. “It has hit home and the frustrating part is the inability to help out my own family due to geography,” said Mora. “I am here helping hundreds, but am impotent to help my own family. This does take a toll.”

He’s decked out in life-saving gear of impermeable isolation gowns and coveralls, gloves, face shields, goggles and N95 respirators, but Dr. Mora still resembles a superhero. He certainly shows bravery and courage as he goes daily into battle helping to save the world. One patient at a time.

Written by Coy Covington 

Coy is in his eleventh year as Executive Administrator at Dallas Children’s Theater. He is also an accomplished actor, director, wig and hair designer and freelance writer.