Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

An Attitude of Gratitude at DCT

The amazing students from Lone Star Circus did flips and tricks in the lobby during Opening Night of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”.

It’s the time of year to count your blessings. As the holidays and a brand new year approach, we have so much to appreciate, thanks to an abundance of devoted friends and DCT family.

We are so very thankful for the many individuals, foundations and companies that support DCT. They understand that in order to present great shows and offer classes, we have to raise additional funds in the form of sponsorships and donations.

The Michaels coloring station has become a favorite activity among our young patrons during this season’s Opening Night performances!

In fact, 40% of our budget relies on support similar to what we got this year from Texas Instruments Foundation, Texas Instruments, Michaels Stores, Target, TACA, the King, Rosewood, Hersh and Shubert Foundations, NGP Energy Capital Management, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Jones Day, to name a few. Not to be overshadowed are the donations of $25, $50, $100, $250 and $1000, which also make a huge difference. Collectively, these dollars help sustain DCT and enable us to continue to bring the magic of live theater to children and families across the metroplex and beyond.

On Opening Night of “Pinkalicious The Musical”, the audience was treated to delicious strawberry cupcakes, courtesy of our friends at Sprinkles!

Opening Night Parties, a new tradition that began last season, have grown even stronger in 2012, thanks to the help of our partners. Each show’s first Friday evening performance would not be the same without Wonderful Weekend Sponsors and donations from local business friends. Michaels Stores, Sprinkles, Purple Cow Restaurant, Tiff’s Treats, Nancy Dee’s Lil Bits Mini Donuts, and Whitley Penn all helped make pre-show activities and intermission something really special this year.

Audiences waited in anticipation for a Target-sponsored performance at DCT!

And then there are friends, like DCT Trustee Karen Travis, who along with intern Maliska Haba, truly took the (cup) cake when they decked out the facility with pinkatastic décor for this season’s opening show, Pinkalicious The Musical, DCT’s most pinkarrific show ever!

Photo by Karen Almond
Larry Hagman on the set of “Pinkalicious The Musical” with the youth ensemble members playing birds, bees and butterflies. In the spur of the moment he decided to strike a pose with them!

Finally, every now and then, you are fortunate to encounter a light so bright that it leaves a lifetime impression on you. That happened to DCT when Larry Hagman graced our doorway one October Sunday. Watching him talk to the children about the importance of the arts in his life and how he wanted to give money so that all children could get that benefit really touched us all. Having no idea that it would be the last time we would ever talk to him about a subject he was so clearly passionate about, we all left that day looking forward to his promised return.

Photo by Karen Almond
Shown here, left to right: Robyn Flatt (DCT Executive Artistic Director), Jacob Segoviano (DCT Academy Student), Larry Hagman, Kendyl Mull (DCT Academy Student)

Unfortunately, we’ll not physically get to host Mr. Hagman again at DCT, but the creation of the Larry Hagman Scholarship for the Performing Arts will live on as a tribute to his generosity and passion for the arts. Thank you, Larry. Warmest Wishes, Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to all! We’re halfway through the season of shows and truly looking forward to ringing in 2013 with Goodnight Moon, A Wrinkle in Time, Boats, Teen Brain: The Musical, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Rumpelstiltskin, The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley and so much more! See you in the New Year!

Dancing with “The Nutcracker”

Everyone knows The Nutcracker as a ballet and a masterful piece of music, but DCT’s version is entirely unique. Enter a dazzling and spectacular puppet interpretation by Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts! We sat down with master puppeteers Kathy Burks, Trish Long and Sally Fiorello as they prepare to open their 15th production of The Nutcracker while launching their 40th season as a professional troupe. They are family – both literally and figuratively! We wanted to know what their experience has been like performing together over the years, and what it’s like backstage while spinning the magic. They all agree that it’s a mental and physical workout, choreographed as precisely as a dance. Despite the challenges, the reward is great, and it remains their favorite piece among the company’s holiday repertoire. Here are some of the highlights of what they had to say:


Trish Long

Puppeteer of the Nutcracker, the Prince and various puppets in Act II. She’s also the voice of Fritz, and a puppet costume designer

I think we know each other so well both personally and professionally, that at times on stage we are totally in sync with one another. It also is great to know you have one another’s back if something goes wrong, which in any live performance is bound to happen! A particular thing that can be very irritating is when you pull your hood down and you realize it’s backwards and you can’t see a thing! You quickly try to figure out how to turn it around on your head without revealing your face! We have bumped into one another, stepped on each other’s toes, poked ourselves in the eye (and lost a contact lens), had a case of the flu, and had small parts of puppets appendages come off during the performance!


Kathy Burks

Director, voice of the little puppeteer in the prologue

The short answer…it is great FUN. Backstage it is busy and quiet, and carefully choreographed. One must never let his mind wander. The sequence of events must be followed perfectly. Do not change your pathway and do not change your routine without previously informing all puppeteers. And on top of all of this, enjoy what you are doing and never lose your sense of humor. HO HO HO! The fight between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King always elicits excited responses from the audiences and this is a joyous experience for me.
Another outstanding moment comes when a solemn white poodle, the only ballet dancer in the production, achieves a startling leap across the stage, propelled by three puppeteers, who must move with drill team precision.


Sally Fiorello

Puppeteer of Tchaikovsky, Clara & the Mouse King in Act I, and various puppets in Act II, including the dancing Poodle. She voices the Narrator & Clara, and is also the Production Designer.

With one exception, most of us have been performing together for thirty to forty years. That is unusual for most arts organizations. We are indeed a family. As performers, this longevity has certainly developed our skill and craftsmanship, but it has also developed a unique ability to sense each other’s movements and dramatic choices before they occur. This allows us to work together in a more intuitive and creative way. With over fifty characters and manipulated objects in the show, the puppeteers never rest. Because it is a “black theater” production, we work completely shrouded in black velveteen (including hoods and gloves) in almost complete darkness. It is very difficult to see anything that is not on-stage in the light. The velveteen is very warm and during certain physical scenes like the Nutcracker’s battle with the Mouse King and his army, and it can become sweltering. Most of the show continuously moves to the cues and rhythms of Tchaikovsky’s musical score, making it more like a dance than a straight play. As an actor/puppeteer, communicating with an audience is a priority for me. Though difficult to perform, The Nutcracker enables me to accomplish that goal, and always gives me the inspiration and energy to keep it fresh, starting every new performance as if it were the very first one.


Madeline Cast Party at Dallas Children’s Theater

Sometimes at Dallas Children’s Theater, the performance carries on beyond the stage.


After wrapping the final 1:30 p.m. performance of Madeline’s Christmas on December 22nd, the cast headed upstairs to DCT’s Gables room, where the young actresses treated their loved ones and some DCT staff to an encore, a cappella version of the final musical number from the show.


It was a sentimental moment – simultaneously singing in unison and passing presents counterclockwise from one person to the next for their gift exchange.


They’ve all had an adventure: from night rehearsals during the fall, to performances for the public and school groups, to the final hurrah at their cast party for a successful show run.


With memories to last, we now wish all our friends and loved ones a Bonne Année (that means Happy New Year)!

C’est…what? DCT’s Madeline Actresses on Learning French Accents

While Dallas Children’s Theater usually features adult actors on stage, Madeline’s Christmas has a cast full of young actresses singing, dancing and flying through the air on magic carpets.

We recently caught up with the two talented, adorable young ladies, Sarah Youngblood and Madie Buckles, who play the role of “Madeline” on alternating performances. They told us about their experience learning a completely new dialect in order to bring to life the spunky, beloved character Madeline on stage for the DCT audience:

Life Imitates Art at Dallas Children’s Theater

In the first book of Ludwig Bemelman’s MADELINE series, the young heroine is rushed to the hospital with appendicitis.

Madie Buckles, one of the two girls alternating in the role of Madeline, noticed her right side hurting during rehearsal at DCT one night in October, and she learned the hard way how life can imitate art.

When the young actress told us about it, she even quoted from the book, “The doctor said, ‘It’s her appendix!’,” she said in the French accent she learned for the show. “Not really, he just said it was appendicitis.”

Though in the book, Madeline was in the hospital for “about 20 days – a long time,” according to Madie, “I was lucky to get out in 3 days.” Upon her return to rehersal after her operation, Madie was greeted by yellow daisies from all her castmates.