Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

DCT Celebrates 35th Anniversary Season and a Unique History of Heartfelt Storytelling

Since 1984, more than five million children, students, and families have been inspired and delighted by the live theater performances of Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT). To celebrate 35 years of unmatched service to North Texas and beyond, DCT is announcing a season lineup comprised of large-scale world premieres and timeless throwbacks. The season opens with a new and reimagined telling of Treasure Island on September 23. Produced in collaboration with three other towering Dallas based companies in their respective fields of expertise, the new telling is expected to draw all ages into the popular pirate world.

DCT’s Founder and Executive Artistic Director has always had a personal fondness for Robert Louis Stevenson’s ageless classic and seized the chance three years ago to work with experts in puppetry, circus arts and movement to devise an immersive, fantasy adventure that will be unlike anything ever produced at DCT. The story is deemed “reimagined” because the playwrights have written it from both the perspective of the traditional Jim Hawkins, but also Ben Gunn, who gets equal billing in this version. Audience members will find themselves onboard a ship in the middle of the action from the moment they enter the theater. In the end, it will be the audience that helps decide who takes home the gold.

In general, the 35th season’s slate of productions will take audiences on land and sea adventures and excursions through space and time. Among the season lineup are iconic DCT shows from the archives including THE ISLAND OF THE SKOG, DIARY OF A WORM, A SPIDER & A FLY, and TUCK EVERLASTING. And along with TREASURE ISLAND Reimagined!, the popular A GHOST TALE FOR MR. DICKENS (based on Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #16: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time) will make their world premiere debuts. DCT is also remounting THE SECRET LIFE OF GIRLS, which launched DCT’s internationally-praised teen issue series. Finally, Lone Star Circus® is back with another end-of-year spectacular called FOREVER that celebrates the birth of the modern circus.

DCT is also honored to be presenting THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS in the winter. Based on award-winning children’s books written and illustrated by Polish Jewish American Ezra Jack Keats, these multiracial characters became an inspiration for Sesame Street. Keats wanted all children to feel included in the celebration of childhood discovery and this production, based on four of his books, illustrates childhood innocence in all four seasons of the year. In January, DCT presents the ultimate story of girl power with ELLA ENCHANTED. Ella of Frell turns the traditional Cinderella story upside down in this super colossal musical extravaganza. Rounding out the season, the DCT Teen Scene Players will bring the recent major motion picture A WRINKLE IN TIME to the stage.

Robyn Flatt, DCT Founder and Executive Artistic Director

“This is the 35th time I’ve had the enormous privilege to announce DCT’s season of plays! What a thrill. And this one sets sail with one of the biggest adventures we’ve ever undertaken. TREASURE ISLAND Reimagined! opens the season with swashbuckling adventure followed by other thrilling productions brand new to our stages including A GHOST TALE FOR MR. DICKENS,” said Robyn Flatt, Executive Artistic Director and Founder of DCT. “And of course, there will be a sprinkling of theatrical treasures from earlier seasons including TUCK EVERLASTING and DIARY OF A WORM, SPIDER, & A FLY, and two of our brilliant Linda Daugherty’s triumphs, THE SECRET LIFE OF GIRLS and an enchanting adaptation of Steven Kellogg’s THE ISLAND OF THE SKOG.”

Flatt reflected, “This marks a significant point in the life of our organization. I am proud to say that DCT is known nationally for its great productions, thought-provoking perspectives, and a host of new scripts developed for the field that are performed around the world.”

As the only major organization in Dallas focusing solely on youth and family theater, DCT builds bridges of understanding between generations and cultures, instilling an early appreciation of literature, art, and the performing arts in tomorrow’s artists and patrons. Over the span of three decades the theater has launched a national touring company that travels to 26 states and 52 cities each year; an Academy for children ages 3-18 that serves 2,500 annually; a Student Matinee Performance Series serving 50,000 children annually from every North Texas county; and sensory-friendly performances and academy classes for the over 100,000 children in North Texas with varying sensory challenges.

Artie Olaisen, Associate Artistic Director

Despite obstacles throughout the years, Artie Olaisen, Associate Artistic Director, said the theater grew and survived by sticking to an artistic point of view that was always child-centric. “We’ve always been committed to telling good, substantive stories; but in the beginning, we didn’t have two sticks to rub together! As we and the field of TYA have grown, our storytelling has become more sophisticated and the canon of good material that was not condescending to our youth audiences has expanded,” said Olaisen. “This theater and the field have certainly matured together.”

Nancy Schaeffer, Associate Artistic Director, Education Director, and staff member since the beginning, has been a driving force behind the expansion of programming. Schaeffer oversees the DCT Academy and the Sensory-Friendly Programming Initiative among other responsibilities. Schaeffer was one of the theater’s first teaching artists in the 1980s and has continually introduced children to live theater through new programs like the sensory-friendly initiative that launched in 2014. “There are lots of options for child- and family-friendly entertainment, but I love the parents who happily choose to make time to see live theater with their family. It’s our passion to help children see themselves, their story, on stage; and to share our love of theater with everyone. It really is like nothing else you can experience, especially as a child.”

Nancy Schaeffer, Associate Artistic Director and Education Director

Flatt, Olaisen and Schaeffer attribute the bulk of their success to the community of artists that they have nurtured and created over the years. Local artists and designers have been the backbone of the theater’s creation, development, and growth through a united commitment to excellence, artistry, and dedication to bringing the best possible quality to the stage and into classrooms. According to Olaisen, DCT may have the longest serving core staff of any arts group in the country. Olaisen explained that DCT provides the opportunity to have a life in the theater and work with artists committed to building a cultural institution that impacts both the Dallas community and the field of TYA. “Here, children have discovered their inner genius and have been inspired to use their gifts to better the world around them. And none of this would be possible were it not for great artists, thought leaders, board members, and advisors who have all been powerful partners in the growth and direction,” said Flatt.


DCT is offering an exclusive chance to see TREASURE ISLAND Reimagined! and then go behind the scenes for party fun. The TREASURE ISLAND Play and Party is a chance to be the very first buccaneers to see the world premiere of TREASURE ISLAND Reimagined! and enjoy a swashbuckling time shipwrecked at DCT for an afternoon of shiver me timbers adventure.

On Saturday, September 22nd after the 1:30 PM performance, play and party guests will have the exclusive opportunity to swab the deck, learn songs and dances from the show, and perform them on the DCT mainstage. Bucks will also learn the secrets behind some of the coolest circus acts and get a chance to be crowned #1 sea-dog after acing a lesson in shadow puppetry. All will gather at the end to sing pirate songs and dance a few pirate moves.

Tickets to this exclusive play and party event are limited to 170 attendees and go on sale to the general public June 1, but 2018-2019 subscribers can avoid the wait by getting tickets now. Don eye patches, captain’s hats, bandanas, or whatever buccaneer outfit you choose and join a pirate party for the ages.

The TREASURE ISLAND Play and Party benefits DCT’s sensory-friendly plays and classes that welcome and include children on the autism spectrum and others with developmental disabilities. Amply staffed sensory-friendly acting classes build social-emotional skills and self-confidence. Your support facilitates discounted pricing that, since 2014, has given more than 5,800 children with developmental delays and their family members a unique and rare opportunity to connect with the community.

To learn more about buying a table at TREASURE ISLAND Play and Party or sponsoring the Sensory-Friendly Programming Initiative, contact Michael Gonzales at michael.gonzales@dct.org or 214-978-0110.


Season Ticket Pricing
By signing up for a Play Package, patrons generate substantial savings over individual ticket purchases. Play Packages have as few as four plays or as many as seven; the more plays, the greater the savings. Season subscribers may also purchase individual tickets to any show at a discounted rate.

Play Package Pricing (per person)
• 4 Play Section A: $88, Section B: $68 (This deal makes tickets as low as $17 per ticket, compared to $21 per ticket when you purchase single tickets!)
• 5 Play Section A: $110, Section B: $85
• 6 Play Section A: $126, Section B: $96
• 7 Play Section A: $147, Section B: $112

Single tickets for the 18-2019 season will range from $15 to $30 for adults, and $15 to $28 for youth. Tickets for TREASURE ISLAND Reimagined! go on sale August 1, 2018, and tickets for all other shows go on sale September 3, 2018.


Announcing the 18-19 Season
Storytelling comes in many different forms. Children think up imaginary friends and situations in the quiet of their rooms. They tell loved ones tall tales from their imagination through pictures and gestures. What’s happening in their brains is incredible. For adults it can be hard to remember the flurry of activity that takes place during the discovery years; how everything was bigger, brighter, and more spectacular. For 35 years, DCT has had the privilege to delight and entertain children, grandchildren and you, for that matter, through the magic of live theater. Join us for another exceptional year of storytelling and lifechanging moments. Shared moments of wonder and surprise begin with DCT’s 35th Anniversary Season.



Adapted for the stage by Katy Tye, Jeffrey Colangelo, and Robyn Flatt
Based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson

September 23 – October 21, 2018

Recommended for ages 7 and up

Friendship, betrayal, and adventure are front and center in this bold world premiere! And Jim Hawkins, Ben Gunn, and Long John Silver will do just about anything to be the first to claim the buried treasure. From the moment you enter the theater, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the action. Step into a world of dramatic sword fights, thrilling acrobatics, and magical shadow puppetry as Dallas Children’s Theater, Prism Movement Theatre, Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts, and Lone Star Circus® come together to present a wildly original version of this iconic tale. Grab your costume and come aboard our ship. Your help is needed to decide who gets to take home the gold!


Adapted by John Glore
From the book by Madeleine L’Engle
Produced by special arrangement with Stage Partners

October 19 – October 28, 2018

Recommended for ages 10 and up

It was a dark and stormy night when Meg Murry’s journey began. Mrs. Whatsit, a mind-reading celestial being, arrives to tell Meg about the evil forces that are holding her missing father prisoner on another planet and the existence of a tesseract – a sort of wrinkle in space and time – that will help her save him. Mrs. Whatsit and two of her unconventional friends (Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which) transport Meg along with her super-genius younger brother Charles Wallace, and friend Calvin O’Keefe through the fifth dimension on a quest to rescue her father and free the universe. This groundbreaking sci-fi/fantasy tale captures the classic struggle between good and evil, the power of love, and the value of individuality. Teens can save the world!


Book by Will Osborne and Jenny Laird
Lyrics by Randy Courts and Will Osborne
Music by Randy Courts
Based on Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #16: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time
by Mary Pope Osborne

November 16 – December 23, 2018

Recommended for ages 6 and up

Magic Tree House, the #1 bestselling chapter book series of all time, premieres this large-scale, holiday-themed spectacular in Dallas! Be among the first to see brother and sister duo, Jack and Annie, whisked back in time aboard their magical tree ride to the foggy streets of Victorian England. Their mission: to help the famous writer Charles Dickens overcome a terrible bout of writer’s block. With a little help from three ghost friends, Jack and Annie learn how charity and kindness can change the course of history. No “Bah Humbug” here…this musical is a fantasy adventure filled with wonderful songs and dances of the season!


Adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
Based on the books by Ezra Jack Keats
Music by Victor Zupanc
Produced in collaboration with Soul Rep Theatre

December 8, 2018 – January 20, 2019

Recommended for ages 3 and up

Oh, the magic of childhood! Follow Peter and his friends as they enjoy the excitement of a fresh snowfall, the delight of whistling for the first time, the awe in finding a special treasure, and the feelings of a first crush. Packed with humor and fun, this production combines wonderfully innovative shadow puppetry and live action to showcase Keats’ beautiful appreciation for diversity. In fact, his characters ultimately became an inspiration for Sesame Street! An adaptation of Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, A Letter to Amy, and the groundbreaking Caldecott Winner The Snowy Day, this uplifting story collection encourages us to play and live life to the fullest each day.

Note: There will be no performances of THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS between December 24, 2018 and January 3, 2019.



December 28, 2018 – January 1, 2019

Enjoyed by all ages

In a fun and daring tribute to the birth of the modern circus, Dallas’ own Lone Star Circus® brings its unique brand of spectacle back for the holidays in this all-new show! Jugglers, acrobats, clowns, and four-legged performers from around the world come together to create a parade of not-to-be-forgotten moments for the entire family. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…New Year’s just wouldn’t be the same without their death-defying feats, surprising stage genius, and showstopping special effects. Reserve your seats now to create memories that will last…forever!


By Karen Zacarías
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma
Adapted from the book by Gail Carson Levine
By special arrangement with Miramax

January 25 – February 24, 2019

Recommended for ages 6 and up

Ella of Frell is turning the traditional Cinderella story upside down! At birth, she was given the “gift” of obedience which forces her to do anything people command: whether that’s hopping on one foot all day or telling her best friend to just go away! As a teenager, strong-willed Ella chooses to reject this lifestyle as her fate and embarks on a quest to break the curse forever. Along the way, feisty Ella must outwit her evil stepsisters, escape hungry ogres, and save the prince before she can claim her real voice. In this fun and spirited musical extravaganza that stays true to the Newbery Honor book, children will discover the power of words while laughing, singing, and dancing out loud.


By Linda Daugherty

February 15 – February 24, 2019

Not suitable for children under 12

Bullying in every form – from open tactics like gossiping and keeping secrets, to using friendship as a weapon – can become the prelude to dangerous behaviors like depression, cutting, and eating disorders. This show takes an unflinching look into the world of mean girls and exposes the consequences that bullying creates. Because that girl everyone is spreading rumors about…the one who just can’t seem to fit in…chances are, you know who she is. This production by award-winning playwright Linda Daugherty generated massive buzz when it debuted in 2007 and subsequently launched DCT’s internationally-praised teen issue series. In DCT tradition, teens and those who love them are invited to see a performance, and then stay after for a conversation with local experts.


Script by Mark J. Frattaroli
Based on the book Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

March 22 – April 7, 2019

Recommended for ages 10 and up

What if you could live forever? What if you were asked to keep a shocking secret? Young Winnie Foster suddenly finds herself faced with these dilemmas when she ventures from her routine one single summer morning. What she encounters at the foot of a magnificent tree in the woods on her family’s land brings her face to face with monumental life choices. A romance, a new family, perhaps eternal life? What follows is a whirlwind of events and a life-affirming adventure that The New York Times called “fearsome and beautifully written.” Considered one of the classics of modern children’s literature, this poetic story comes intensely to life on the DCT stage.


Script by Linda Daugherty
Based on the book The Island of the Skog by Steven Kellogg

May 3 – May 25, 2019

Recommended for ages 3 and up

The best laid plans of mice and well, Skog, are upended in this lively musical adventure that navigates land and sea. When Jenny and her mice friends grow weary of ravenous cats, noisy humans, and peril on the streets, they decide a new island paradise is the order of the day. Led by the surly Captain Bouncer, the Rough-riding Rowdies think they’ve hit the jackpot until they discover that a “giant” already has dibs on their newfound home. The Rowdies and Skog each devise a survival of the fittest plan that, in the end, only points out the flaws that come with assuming the worst and refusing to compromise. A delightfully charming and gentle story that brings to life the author’s beloved illustrations and characters.


Book, Music & Lyrics by Joan Cushing
Based on the three books by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss

June 14 – July 7, 2019

Recommended for ages 3 and up

The coolest ever rock-n-roll romp through a bug’s world commands center stage in this hip-hoppin’ musical that promotes eco-consciousness, earth science, and tolerance of others. The popular characters from the bestselling books are not so unusual: Worm eats his homework and has no legs. Fly has 327 siblings and wants to be a superhero. And Spider can’t wait to grow up and molt. When Fly’s Aunt Rita needs help getting out of a tight spot, the squad must combine their talents and work as a team on the rescue mission of a lifetime. While there’s no pop quiz, you might just learn that a bug’s life isn’t that different from your own.



MAGIC TREE HOUSE:  A GHOST TALE FOR MR. DICKENS TYA is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).  All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com

DIARY OF A WORM, A SPIDER & A FLY –  © 2011 Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss. By special arrangement with Pippin Properties, Inc. and Gurman Agency LLC.

THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS – Peter illustration used by permission of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. 
THE ISLAND OF THE SKOG – Illustrations from The Island of the Skog copyright ©1973 by Steven Kellogg. All rights reserved. Used with permission. 
DIARY OF A WORM, A SPIDER & A FLY –  Illustrations © 2003, 2005, and 2007 by Harry Bliss. Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc. 
Circus show imagery courtesy of Lone Star Circus®.  
All other images © 2018, 2019  Dallas Children’s Theater


Karen Almond, Lawrence Jenkins, Melinda Reddehase

Category: Uncategorized