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This page (Page #1) has great articles from newspapers and school newsletters.  Check out all these great comments about ArtReach popular titles: Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Peter Pan, A Thousand Cranes, Treasure Island, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mulan, Peter Pan, We are the Dream, Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, The Wizard of Oz

ArtReach's 'Alice in Wonderland' Named #1 Best High School Play
WeAreTeachers: 40 Showstopping High School Plays for Your School
Katelyn Katz, May 31, 2023

#1. ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland Best High School Play
Alice in Wonderland - Medium Cast Play for Middle Schools and High Schools!
"WeAreTeachers is your everyday stop for trusted ideas, stories, and resources to empower teachers."
Photo: Harding Theatre, Searcy, AR - ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland

"Alice in Wonderland is a beloved classic from every student's childhood. The script, costumes, and set allow for a very creative and energetic play to take place. With digestible themes and a happy-go-lucky plot, this play is definitely a classic for a large cast of high schoolers."

Everyone loves well-done high school plays. When the actors and director are engaged in the storyline and the blocking is done correctly, a play can deeply impact everyone involved, from the cast and crew to the audience. The struggle is: Which plays are best to perform in high school? There are seemingly endless options for high school plays, and thinking about which one to put on can be overwhelming. That's why we put together this list of 40 of the best high school plays with a range of genres, plots, and lessons to help make your decision just a little bit easier.

Alice in Wonderland is a beloved classic from every student’s childhood. The script, costumes, and set allow for a very creative and energetic play to take place. With digestible themes and a happy-go-lucky plot, this play is definitely a classic for a large cast of high schoolers.

Cast: 11–20 roles, large ensemble. Licensing: ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays

Molokai children's theater program teaches more than performance
The Hokulani Children's Theatre presents ArtReach's 'A Christmas Peter Pan'
Hawaii Public Radio | By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Hokulani Children's Theatre of Molokai participated in the island's lighted float parade last Saturday, promoting their Christmas Peter Pan play this weekend.

Vicki Boswell says there's magic in the theater program she launched on Moloka'i less than a year ago.

"There's something magical going on here. I really believe it's magic in the best kind of way because it's developing our humanity and helping us to feel safe in this world."

"There's something magical going on here."
Kids drum up publicity for A Christmas Peter Pan. Teacher and Director for A Christmas Peter Pan.
ArtReach's A Christmas Peter Pan - Hokulani Children's Theatre of Molokai - Vicki Boswell leads practice.

The Hokulani Children's Theatre of Molokai is preparing for its third play of the year this weekend, Christmas Peter Pan. Thirty-one keiki between the ages of 4 and 16 have spent weeks learning their lines and rehearsing together. But Boswell says it's about more than just the performance - it's personal growth, gaining confidence and building life skills.

"That is the true magic," she said. "It's the community building that's going on. It's the investing in our kids. And giving them a place to feel good about themselves. That's what I'm proud about. The performance is over in a day or two, but it's all the groundwork."

Vicki Boswell leads practice for the upcoming Christmas Peter Pan.

Boswell, who serves as founder and director of the organization, spent decades working as a social worker and school counselor. She says the kids in the theater program come from diverse backgrounds that include foster care, special needs and challenging circumstances.

"This is the most preventative social work I've ever done," Boswell said.

"You feel loved, like they're another family of yours."
Kid plays Captain Hook in A Christmas Peter Pan. Kids perform in Christmas Musical.
Hokulani Children's Theatre of Molokai - Joao plays Captain Hook in the play.

For eighth grader Kawena Joao, the program has turned friends into family.

"When you go to this kind of theater, you feel like you're loved, like they're another family of yours," she said.

"It builds up confidence for me," she continued. "When I wasn't doing theater, I was not very good at speaking to people, and now I'm a little better."

Fourth grader Kaceelynn Yasso plays Wendy. This is her third play with the program and she says she's learned a lot.

"To always try your best for something, and it doesn't matter if you're quiet or not -- you can just use your body language," she said.

"It's a fun experience, you make tons of friends, and it's amazing," said Hina Vines, a sixth grader who takes on the role of Santa Claus. "For the kids, join - you'll have fun. And for all the adults, come and see this thing, because it's hilarious."

Kawena Joao practices her role as Captain Hook.

The Children's Theatre is the first organization of its kind on Molokai. It's one of the island's only performing arts opportunities.

"This is what I teach the kids: 'You are doing in this community what has never been done before. You're a community builder,'" Boswell told HPR. "And I can't express enough that these kids are blowing me away because they get that message."

The nonprofit operates on donations and volunteers - and Boswell's personal contributions. But she says it's all worth it.

"I thought I was going to help kids and I had no idea that they were helping me more than I could help them," she said.

"You make tons of friends and it's amazing."
Large Cast of kids, A Christmas Peter Pan.
A Christmas Peter Pan - Riverfront Theatre Company, Windsor ON

For Boswell, theater has been a meaningful part of her own life since childhood.

"Drama was what kept me in school," she said. "I would have never graduated from high school without participating in speech and drama tournaments. I was special ed. So my mother put me into acting to help me with my diction after I had surgery on my ears. It really boosted my confidence."

Christmas Peter Pan performances will be held in Kaunakakai at Home Pumehana Hall on Friday at 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Boswell says the program has big plans for next year. In February, they will launch a keiki and k?puna comedy program. They'll also partner with the L?na'i Academy of Performing Arts for a camp and performance exchange on the two islands.

"Kids have dreams. One girl wants to be a playwright, somebody else wants to be an animator," Boswell explained. "They just don't fit in with what Molokai had to offer, and that's just what we're trying to do -- expand opportunities for growth."

Noriko Tosaka, World Ambassador for "A Thousand Cranes"
ArtReach's Sadako Play Performed in Orkney Islands, Scotland

In 2004 I received a phone call from a young Japanese woman, Noriko Tosaka.  She explained that she had been working with the Stella Adler Studio in Los Angeles where she was involved with a performance of my play, A Thousand Cranes.  She said she was recently divorced and her 2 children were US citizens but she was Japanese so she expected to be deported back to Japan soon. 

In spite of her troubles, Noriko said that she needed something for her soul.  She said that I might be able to grant her this soul-wish.  If she had to go back to Japan she wanted to go to Hiroshima and perform A Thousand Cranes there on the anniversary of the bomb, Aug 6.  But she wanted more.  She wanted me to grant her royalty-free rights to pursue performances of the play for the rest of her life.  She wanted to make this play and its message a mission for all of her life.

"Noriko said that she needed something for her soul."
Noriko Tosaka A Thousand Cranes
She wanted to make this play and its message a mission for all of her life.

Despite all of the legal and logistical copyright tangles such a proposal might bring, I felt her request was so heartfelt and extraordinary that I must agree.  And so I did.  I said yes and asked her to keep in touch with me through her journey.

Over the years, Noriko has been a world ambassador for A Thousand Cranes.  She translated the play to Japanese and shared it many multi-arts productions in Japan and the US.  Last year she contacted me about a special project she was doing with the Orkney Japan Association of Scotland. 

OJA Director, Yuka Johnston, Stromness, Orkney, wrote in October: "I am delighted to inform you that our public event Orkney Japan Mini Festival and Noriko's production "A Thousand Cranes" had great success!  Noriko worked so hard on this project. She brought wonderful positive vibes up to Orkney and passed Sadako's powerful message on to people in Orkney beautifully, including children who will make the future of this world. Usually, this kind of event can only get a small audience as it's such a small community, but about 200 people came to see her performance and left us great reviews."

"Over the years, Noriko has been a world ambassador."
Noriko Tosaka A Thousand Cranes Performance in Orkney Scotland
 Orkney Japanese Association - Orkney Japan Mini Festival - A Thousand Cranes

Yuka added in a follow up email: "It was an uncanny coincidence that the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in March this year. We can hear the sound of war and people's crying from the distance. We believe this is the time we play "A Thousand Cranes" and share a moment to think and pray for world peace."

I was asked to write notes for the program:  

When Sadako began her journey, she was just an ordinary girl with ordinary dreams for the future.  When war brought Sadako a future she did not expect, she made a wish.  Her wish was not for herself only; she spoke for children all over the world.  This is why the Orkney Japan Association's project is an excellent endeavour that perfectly honours Sadako's memory.  It brings elegant Japanese culture to the beautiful and proud Scottish Islands, joining hands across the globe.

Noriko Tosaka has devoted much of her career to this play, A Thousand Cranes, and Sadako's message.   It seems to me that Noriko is much like Sadako herself.  Through her thoughtful direction she brings us together with Sadako's wish: This is our cry, this is our Prayer, Peace in the World.

"The time has come to fold a thousand cranes again."
Kids and grownups folding cranes
 Orkney Japanese Association - Orkney Japan Mini Festival - A Thousand Cranes

The October, 2022, of this project and Yuka's writing, my husband was undergoing emergency, frightening surgeries that kept me from my work.  About 8 months later I am happy to say he is almost fully recovered.  It was quite a while before I was able to look at all the material concerning this production and even longer before I could do so with dry eyes.

"We share a moment to think and pray for world peace."
Kids fold cranes for A Thousand Cranes Sctoland poster for A Thousand Cranes
 Orkney Japanese Association - Orkney Japan Mini Festival - A Thousand Cranes

Somehow, many years ago, I had the great fortune to stumble on Sadako's story.  The little play that came after has led me to some of the most heartening and fulfilling moments of my life.  I'm so very grateful to Sadako for her brave, wise and eternal wish.  With all my heart I thank Noriko, Yuka and all the teachers, directors and children who have carried the message of Sadako and her cranes around the world.

Kathryn Schultz Miller
Playwright, A Thousand Cranes

Real treasure revealed amid plenty of pirate fun, ArtReach's Treasure Island
The Free Weekly, Northwest Arkansas Newspapers LLC


It's not surprising that Arts Live has chosen Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" as its next production: Pirates, a hidden island and buried treasure are elements that make the classic tale irresistible to children, whether they're on the stage or watching from the audience.

"Kids love to be pirates," says the show's director.
Treasure Island ArtReach play Treasure Island script for kids
Arts Live Theatre, Fayetteville AR - ArtReach's Treasure Island

"Kids love to be pirates," says the show's director and Arts Live teaching artist Natalie Lane. "Several of [my actors] have said, 'I have a bunch of pirate stuff at home! Can I bring it in?' A couple of them get to have hook hands and eye patches - it's really fun, costume-wise. They get to play-fight and pretend they're on a big pirate ship. This is one of those times when I've had kids make character choices on their own, before I've had to help with that. It's easy for them to jump in and say, 'Oh, I'm this kind of pirate.'"

Lane says that the Arts Live production opens with the protagonist Jim Hawkins in the present day.

"Storyteller pirates help Hawkins tell his tale."
Kids perform ArtReach's Treasure Island Play Students perform Summer Camp Play
Arts Live Theatre, Fayetteville AR - ArtReach's Treasure Island

"He's having a hard day in school," explains Lane. A group of storyteller pirates helps Hawkins tell his tale. He prefers to live in the world of pirates and adventure instead of being in his everyday life, where his dog eats his homework. He would rather be on the high seas, fighting for gold. The next thing you know, there's a knock at his door. He thinks his mom is coming to his room to yell at him about not eating his tofu patty dinner, but actually it's Billy Bones [from 'Treasure Island']."

But it's not all just about swashbuckling pirates and flashy coins of gold. Lane says there's a lesson to be learned in the fact that Long John Silver's charming personality masks a devious soul.

"Pirates, a hidden island and buried treasure are irresistible."
Jim finds the Treasure Map ArtReach's Treasure island in the news!
Arts Live Theatre, Fayetteville AR - ArtReach's Treasure Island

"With Long John, it's the [Stephen Sondheim musical] 'Into the Woods' thing where 'Nice is different than good,'" says Lane. "It's sort of a 'Be careful of what you wish for' kind of lesson - Jim goes from going along for ride to having to be brave and standing up to the villain."

Voices Of History: Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder resonates today
Arts Live Theater presents ArtReach's "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie"
The Free Weekly, Fayetteville, AR, by Monica Hooper

When Laura Ingalls Wilder first published "Little House in the Big Woods," things had begun to change slowly for women at the time. The 19th amendment was 12 years old, and Hattie Caraway had become the first woman elected to the Senate, but vocations were still limited for women. Trying to make ends meet during the financial hardships of the Great Depression, Wilder reluctantly wrote the books detailing her early life on the plains. Her first book was a hit, which led her to write more, which together eventually served as the basis for the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series, which ran for nine seasons from 1974 to 1983.

"Theater and all the arts are excellent at teaching history."
True story of Pioneer girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Arts Live Theater, Fayetteville AR -  "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie"

Arts Live Theater will share a production titled "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie" April 15-16 and April 21-24 at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale. In the outdoor show, the grounds of the museum will provide a fitting backdrop for the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The best part? The play will be in the hands of Sophie Moody, 15, and Raedyn Courtney, 13, both of whom will serve as assistant directors. The duo were asked to step up as veterans of the theater, who've acted in more than 40 shows combined despite their young ages.

"There is a wonderful cycle in any youth program, of watching the kids grow up. As last year's leaders move on, the next batch of leaders steps up to fill the space. Sophie and Raedyn are that. As assistant directors, they are not only a huge help in organizing and logistics, but they are both actors, so they can offer those observations, also," enthuses director and teaching artist Jules Taylor.

"Arts Live means a lot to me because I've been doing it for so long. And it's just been like, a really big part of my life," Raedyn says. Sophie explains that it's a promotion of sorts, "kind of like a buildup of trust as you go along. If you do well as an actor, [then] a director, whenever their other assistant director goes off to college, they'll be like, 'Hey, I'm looking for a new assistant director, and I fancy you.'"

 Laura Ingalls Wilder play script Little House on the Prairie play script
Arts Live Theater, Fayetteville AR -  "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie"

"They just asked us to do it because they've known us for a long time, because we've been in other shows, and they trust us with this job and they think that we're the right fit for it," Raedyn says. For the role of assistant director, Raedyn says that "we kind of help manage everything. We make sure everyone's focused at all times, make sure [the actors are] running their lines, make sure they're remembering everything. And we help with the rehearsal itself, and we write down their blocking, and we just kind of help everyone know where they're supposed to be and what's happening."

Both are taking cues and learning the ropes from Taylor, who has not only been teaching them how to direct a play, but has been explaining the history behind the story and the motivation for the characters' actions.

"Arts Live is a really big part of my life."
Little House aurhor Laura Ingalls Wilder play
Arts Live Theater, Fayetteville AR -  "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie"

When asked how she feels kids today relate to this story, Taylor says "on one hand, being here, at (what we hope is) the very beginning of the post-pandemic age, they see that hardships exist through out history - they just went through one of their own that will have historical significance. And, on the other hand, theater and all the arts are excellent at teaching history, so they get to understand more about the formation of America at that time with this particular show. And it also helps them understand that there are some basic qualities that exist in human relationships no matter their time period."

Both assistant directors say that they can see why Wilder's stories have endured from generation to generation.  "It's very cool to see the way that people grew up in the 1800s. Especially a woman writing a book, because that's not that common in that day and age," Sophie adds. She will also fill in as Rose, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The show won't focus just on her time on the prairie, it also includes Wilder's life during the time that she wrote her famous books, a revolutionary act in itself.

"Wilder's stories have endured for generations."
True Life play of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Julia Hill, left, is Laura; Daniel Wilhite is Pa and Haleigh Ann Staley is Mary in "Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie,"
presented outdoors at the Shiloh Museum by Arts Live Theatre. (Courtesy Photo)

"It's [a story of] woman's rights &ldots; That's what the end of the story is about, it's is what they're fighting for and striving for and the protests and stuff that are happening - the generation that Rose is a part of," Raedyn explains. She adds that the play allows young people to "realize the stuff that they went through to to be where we are today and the growth that had to happen for us to even be here right now. And I think that's an important lesson for a lot of kids to learn and know."

Kids' production a big hit at Cultural Park Theater
Wolf Creek collective presents ArtReach's "The Legend of Mulan"
By CJ Haddad -  Cape Coral Breeze

This past weekend at Cultural Park Theater, it was the kids calling the shots.

"It was the kids calling the shots."
School Play MULAN
ArtReach's "The Legend of Mulan" - Wolf Creek Collective, Cape Coral FL

A full show staged, directed and choreographed by members of Wolf Creek Collective - an all-kids performing arts group - hit the stage as "The Legend of Mulan" was performed in front of a socially distanced and sold-out audience.

Wolf Creek Collective, spearheaded in the Cape by Bridey Kearns, allows the students to use their imaginative and creative ideas to perform, direct, choreograph, write and influence an on-stage production. Kearns has been choreographing shows at Cultural Park Theater since 2017.  This past weekend was the troupe's first full performance and probably the first of it's kind in Southwest Florida.

"I'm proud of the fact there's no precedence for this - no one that they could have seen do it before, and no one that they could have learned it from," Kearns said. "They came in as the first kids to do something like this and it takes a lot of initiative. The fact they were able to learn what we taught to them and apply it so quickly to make a full-fledged show in only 10 weeks just really impresses me."

"It allows the students to use their imagination and be creative."
Preparing to perform Comic rabbit steals the show
PHOTO BY PATRICK ONUFER WITH PATRICK O'PHOTOS 12-year-old tech director Emma Kane, right, helps Logan King (8) get ready while 12-year-old choreographer Emily Salazar, back left, prepares to put on "The Legend of Mulan."

The show was directed by 10-year-old Eden Fautz, choreographed by 12-year-old Emily Salazar with lighting and sound handled by 12-year-old Emma Kane.

"You can tell when someone loves something because they take it up so fast," Kearns said. "They really absorbed the knowledge, it's not forced. And with all three of these girls, the knowledge was there. They all really love what they do and they jumped right in."

Fautz, full of spirit and energy twice her size, said she enjoys taking things in from her director's chair and hopes it becomes a regular spot for her in the future, as she wants to be a director.  "It's different definitely," Fautz said of seeing things from her new perspective. "It's also really fun because you have a say in what you want to see. I've done a lot of plays but I like being on the other side a lot more than being on the stage, actually."

After the student creative team was found, they held auditions, like any typical show, except the students were the ones selecting the cast after going through a casting workshop with adult theater professionals. Fautz and Salazar then worked with their cast at rehearsals to put on the full-length production that has been edited and workshopped by Fautz.  If you were in the audience, you may have noticed some stylistic differences from the traditional show  - all part of the way they make it their own. All three of the team leaders came together to shape the script, style and mood into their vision, not just what was written for them.

"I can imagine it, and then it's on stage," Fautz said.

"All students in the cast had the opportunity to participate."
 Rabbit teaches Mulan Pika teaches Mulan Mulan comes home
 ArtReach's "The Legend of Mulan" - Wolf Creek Collective, Cape Coral FL

Kearns said even though she was younger than most of the cast, Fautz was the perfect fit to direct their first show.  "She is not shy, she's got a very confident personality," Kearns said. All students in the cast had the opportunity to participate in set design, props or costume crew as well. Kearns said a team of dedicated adults create anything the kids can dream up. In the end, the entire show is made from the imaginations of the youth who are putting it on.  Salazar, who took on both the role of choreographer and stage manager, said her love of dance and having that creative freedom was a major reason she chose to take on the challenge.

"I get to really bring my own style to the show," Salazar said. "I like teaching and I like dancing, so it's a good combination of both. It gives me a chance to do it my way and teach my peers, which is really fun."

Salazar listened though each track and in her mind, put together what she felt best captured each moment.  "I put together some lyrical and soft movement style dances, but also some hard and sharp movement dance," she said.  She was also cognizant of how much her peers would have to learn and take in over a short period of time.  "They have to put in work and I don't want to overwhelm them with dancing," Salazar said.

Working behind the scenes was no easy feat either, as Salazar constantly was changing sets, moving props and making sure each scene had the right backdrop and cast members.  Working the booth and illuminating those sets, Kane picked up the technological side of every production pretty quickly.

Kane learned from the pros at Cultural Park Theater during a summer camp and stepped up to the plate for Wolf Creek.  From hitting cues on time to handling microphones and commanding the sound and light board, there's a lot that goes into what the audience sees on stage beyond the performers.

"There's a lot of different lights on stage that no on really ever sees until they're on," Kane said. "When you're creating the show, you have to find a good mix of things and take into account what the director likes. I was having Eden see what kind of interesting lights she liked for each scene." Collaborating with peers is something new for Kane but was an experience she gained from.

"It's been interesting," she said of working with an all-youth team. "I'm so used to being on stage and singing and dancing. I like a challenge on the other side of the stage, and Eden and I have worked closely together to make choices - ones that would have interesting effects on the story."

"They really absorbed the knowledge, it's not forced."
Mulan fights in war Mulan leads the way
 ArtReach's "The Legend of Mulan" - Wolf Creek Collective, Cape Coral FL

In the beginning, Kearns was expecting to run the show with a more simplistic lighting style, that was until Kane jumped on board and brought the presentation over the top.

"We were planning on having no tech," Kearns said, that was until Kane volunteered her skills. "She really has amplified it to another level. The kids had stuff we didn't think we were going to have. She brought it to the level of shows that are put on at Cultural Park."

Kearns said it was encouraging to see the students take direction from their contemporaries and give them their full attention and dedication.

"One-hundred percent they support everything that their peers say," Kearns said. "I was a little worried about that. I think because the kids know this is a kid-run project, they were very receptive to learning from their peers."

Having a bit more creative freedom from their student-director to tweak roles to fit personalities also helped build the imaginative atmosphere, Kearns said.  "It's not just Eden's show - she's in charge overall, but because each student got a piece of it, there was never conflict," Kearns said.

"The kids know this is a kid-run project."
Mulan's mother greets her A perormance well done
 ArtReach's "The Legend of Mulan" - Wolf Creek Collective, Cape Coral FL

Wolf Creek's second show is "The Velveteen Rabbit," directed by 12-year-old Addison Kalbhenn. Show dates are Friday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 12, at 1 p.m., at Cultural Park Theater, located on Cultural Park Boulevard in Cape Coral.

Community Ed. Youth Theater Camp Performed 'Peter Pan'
Belle Plaine Herald: Rachel Schmitz

Belle Plaine's first live performance, since COVID, was presented by Community Ed.'s Youth Theater Camp as they performed 'Peter Pan'.

The twenty-nine theater students, ranging from fourth grade to eighth grade, Co-Directors Emma Reed and Colin Schultz, and Assistant Director Merrik Giesen worked hard during their five-day camp.

They performed live for family, friends, and other community members on Friday, July 23, and Saturday, July 24.  With only a short time to plan for the show, much preparation was done beforehand.

"We were trying to get everything done - costumes, sets, everything - before starting any rehearsals. We had the whole set painted and done on Monday before we even started," said Reed.  After having auditions on Thursday, July 15, Reed said they had to trust the students to work on memorizing their lines over the weekend in order to be ready for rehearsal on Monday.

"The students were able to jump right into rehearsals."
Peter Pan and Tinker Bell Peter Pan and Darling children
ArtReach's Peter Pan - Community Ed.'s Youth Theater Camp, Belle Plaine MN

Schultz explained that the camp truly challenged the children and allowed them to see what high school theater would be like.  "One thing these kids are so good at is they are really interested in theater and this is their first taste of it. So what we try to do, the most challenging part, is try to give them a taste of everything, and we really push them to do things that high school students do and talk about what theater is and how it works," said Schultz.

With the help of many community members, the students were able to jump right into rehearsals.  Schultz explained that one of the goals of the community program is to involve everyone, which showed as people helped supply props, sew costumes, paint sets, and provide food.

"I think when it comes to the community, it is super amazing to know that Belle Plaine is such a supportive community and loves theater and the arts," said Reed.  Another goal of the Youth Theater Camp is to prepare students for the high school theater programs.

"The strongest programs, even for sports, have strong youth programs. What we need to do more in theater is introduce that to them. So this is kind of giving them a taste of that," said Schultz.  Reed explained that their friendship over the years and their love for theater have helped them during the camp to find the middle ground in having fun and putting in the work necessary to create an amazing show.

"It's just like a diamond; something beautiful."
Large Cast of Peter Pan Play
Community Ed.'s Youth Theater Camp, Belle Plaine MN

Schultz added that the long hours of work and the dedication they put in to prepare for the show would all be worth it when the students finally get to perform.

"It's just like a diamond; it has to go under pressure to become something beautiful, and that's what's happening here. There are highs and lows through the week, there were times where the kids were stressing us out, there were times where we were probably annoying to the kids, but then you get this product which is just worth it," said Schultz.

Reed and Schultz explained that they hope the students found an interest in theater and will continue to use what they learned in the camp to participate in more programs. "Hearing parents reach out to us the last couple days saying, 'My kid hasn't really been interested in sports and hasn't been finding their spot, but this is their place and they are starting to feel like it is home.' That is amazing to hear. These kids are young and they are still trying to figure out what they want, but if they can feel that here, that's amazing and it is exactly why we do this," said Schultz.

'Leaders of tomorrow': Students remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s achievements
ArtReach's We Are the Dream is performed by community groups together
David Hurst,, Johnstown, PA

For more than 30 years, the NAACP's Johnstown branch and community partners have been holding memorial services in the Rev. Martin Luther King's memory.

This year, the group decided to hand the reins to the youth they often deliver their message to - and the result was a ceremony that celebrated King on stage and in song.

"We decided to ask the youth to host the program and they decided they didn't necessarily want to have a keynote speaker. They wanted to do a play," said Alan Cashaw, NAACP Johnstown branch president.

Martin Luther King's Life in Play for Young People
Mtin Luther King play for young people
NAACP Youth Council, Greater Johnstown High School Unity Club & Christ Centered Community Church youth group.

Instead of speeches and sermons, a group of 20 children between the ages of 4 and 18 wore 1960s-era attire on Greater Johnstown High School's Cochran Auditorium stage and retold some of King's greatest triumphs and struggles in his fight for equality.

"We want freedom," children chanted, re-enacting the pivotal moment in what later became known as the Children's Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama.

Cashaw said many members of the local NAACP branch remember the turbulent 1960s well.  They remember the struggles, the marches on Washington, D.C., and the shocking day King was gunned down on a balcony outside a Memphis hotel room.  But for the young generation standing on stage Sunday, it might otherwise be just another chapter in a history book, if the stories and their importance aren't kept alive, Cashaw said.

"The best way to remember Dr. Martin Luther King is to remember his life ... and that is what this is all about," Cashaw said.  By acting out those moments, they are learning stories they can share with future generations, he said.

"They are the leaders of tomorrow," Cashaw added.

"King's greatest triumphs and struggles in his fight for equality."
Community groups perform Martin Luther King Play Chiors participate in Martin Luther King Play
NAACP Youth Council, Greater Johnstown High School Unity Club & Christ Centered Community Church youth group.

A crowd of about 160 people attended the event.

Greater Johnstown, Bishop McCort, Divine Mercy Catholic Academy East and Conemaugh Valley students served as the actors in the play, titled "We Are the Dream."

Cashaw said they were primarily local members of the NAACP Youth Council, Greater Johnstown High School Unity Club and Christ Centered Community Church youth group.  Youth advisers Toni White and Francine Cashaw said they began working with the group in October.  They praised the children for immersing themselves in the play, sometimes for three days a week.  Several went online and researched the styles of the 1960s to fine-tune their looks, they said.  

"A lot of them already know about Dr. King ... they've learned a lot of this at one point or another," Francine Cashaw said. "But by acting it out on stage, they're making it real."

Peninsula Youth Theatre's 'Sleepy Hollow' opens Friday in Mountain View
STEPPING OUTWritten by Los Altos Town Crier Staff - Town Crier Report

"A great mix of comedic moments and spooky fun!"
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for Kids!
Spencer Cook of Mountain View stars in PYT's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

Peninsula Youth Theatre's production of the Halloween classic ArtReach's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is slated to run this weekend on the SecondStage at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When a new school teacher comes to Sleepy Hollow, he disrupts Brom Bones' courtship of the fair Katrina, prompting Brom to seek revenge.

PYT alumnus Max Venuti directs "Hollow," featuring actors Spencer Cook, Naomi Eason, Josh Gefken, Ani Lawit, Talia Lawit, Eliott Leblond, Ben Siegel, Olivia Spreen and Michael Tucker.

"It's been such fun to work with this talented cast to bring this story to the stage for my directorial debut," Venuti said. "This entertaining script is ensemble based and has a great mix of comedic moments and spooky holiday fun."

"Stories on Stage program, appropriate for ages 8 and above."
Large Cast of Kids for Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Peninsula Youth Theatre, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, young cast.

Part of PYT's Stories on Stage program, the 45-minute black-box production of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is appropriate for ages 8 and above. An optional 15-minute talk-back with the cast and crew follows each performance.

Schooltime shows are slated 9:30 and 11 a.m. Friday; standard performances are scheduled 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $11 for the Friday performances and $13 for the Saturday shows. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

For tickets and more information, call 903-6000 or visit

Ferndale High's fall play leads audiences into 'Sleepy Hollow'
By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk , MI

FERNDALE - The students of Ferndale High School will take on a nearly 200-year-old story for the school's fall play.

The students' production of ArtReach's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" will bow this week, with performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, at the high school, 881 Pinecrest Drive.

The play tells the story of Ichabod Crane and his attempt to win the affection of Katrina Van Tassel while also dealing with Brom Bones, another potential suitor, all in the peculiar village of Sleepy Hollow.  Director Melissa Smith said the play has been on the short list for a number of years, and enough students voted for "Sleepy Hollow" to be the 2019 production.

Smith also liked the play for the current cast she knew she had, as the way this particular show was adapted allowed for cross-gender casting.

"It's us being a part of the creative process."
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for High School performers
ArtReach's Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Ferndale High School

There are male roles that are played by females; there are female roles that are played by men," she said. "It also allows for actors to play a variety of roles. So in several instances, students are playing maybe anywhere from two to three different parts, with the exception of the three main characters. So this show just allowed a lot of flexibility in casting, which was fun and certainly makes it easier for us to adapt it to the student population we currently have."

Taking on the role of Van Tassel is Zoe Butters, who is acting in her first lead role after previously having been a backstage worker for a number of shows, and taking on small roles onstage for some of the musicals.  "Since this is my senior year, this is my last chance to be onstage in a play, and I really think that the script and the story is very fun," she said. "There's a lot of humor in it, and all the people who are in the theater program are very fun to work with, and so I decided this was the year to be onstage."

The 17-year-old senior from Pleasant Ridge has been feeling a lot of emotions leading up to her first major role, but none more than the excitement to get onstage.  Butters has seen the hard work from the rest of the cast in the rehearsals leading up to the big opening night, and she knows they're ready to put on a great performance.

"The cast all work really well together," she said. "We have our amazing director, who really helps us with reading the script well. It's not her just telling us what to do, and then us doing it. It's us being a part of the creative process."

The cast has been rehearsing since the middle of September, and in that time, Smith said, the students have made considerable progress, especially now when the technical aspects of a play - lights, costumes, makeup, music, sound effects, etc. - are being integrated.

"All the different parts start having to come together, so you start adding all the other layers, and that always kind of takes us two steps forward, one step back in many ways, but usually by the time we get to that Monday dress rehearsal, we've ironed out some of those kinks and we get the train on the track," she said.

Alice in Wonderland, Primary School Production
Bangkok Patana School, The British International School in Thailand

The audience was enthralled by the fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland, this year’s Primary Production.

"Congratulations to all who did such a wonderful job."
Alice in Wonderland for Kids Alice Play for Kids to Perform Alice and Queen of Hearts in Play
ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland - Bangkok Patana School

This year’s Primary Production was Alice in Wonderland, a play by Kathryn Schultz Miller, and was performed by a fabulous cast over two shows in the Black Box Theatre. Starring students from Years 5 and 6, the show told the well-known story written in 1865 by English author Lewis Carroll, of Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a peculiar fantasy world. Wonderful acting enraptured the audience as Alice attended the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ and met characters including the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts.

Congratulations to all the student performers and behind the scenes crew who did such a wonderful job.

The LaGrange Daily News: LTA performing The Jungle Book

An adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's classic, The Jungle Book, opened Thursday with the first of four sold out performances at LSPA. The production features a cast of 35 Lafayette Theatre Academy students, with an additional 11 students performing introductory scenes.

Set in the jungle of India, this play tells the story of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves, educated by a panther, entertained by a bear, and challenged by monkeys, a python, and a dangerous tiger.

"Cast of second through sixth graders take the stage with poise and confidence."
Large Cast Production of ArtReach's THE JUNGLE BOOK
The Lafayette Theatre Academy is currently putting on a production of "The Jungle Book". -Contributed

"Kathryn Schultz Miller, the playwright for this adaptation, makes it very clear that this production is also about community," director Carol Cain said. "We have been encouraged to think of how each animal and each character in the play is important and what each contributes to the community, a lesson that is important on the stage, in the classroom, and in life."

Cain said she and her student actors are inspired by the law of the jungle which is often quoted in the play.

"For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack," Cain said. 

A family friendly production, one of the special treats of the play is audience participation. 

"Many of the entrances and exits of our animal and human characters are made through the audience," Cain said. "Some of the characters will interact with audience members and ask for their help throughout the show.  We're even asking audience members to make a few animal noises."

As you might expect in a play about the jungle, there are plenty of animals.  In addition to the familiar characters of Shere Khan, the tiger, Baloo, the bear, Kaa, the python, and Bagheera the panther, there is a jungle full of snakes, monkeys, birds, elephants, and other large creatures.

"Janet Powell, our costumer, has created elaborate turbans and headpieces for our actors, as well as wonderful, kid-friendly costumes that give each animal personality," Cain said. "Plus, the LSPA staff has converted the entire Black Box theater into a jungle."

"The biggest treat, however, is watching this cast of second through sixth graders take the stage with such poise and confidence," Cain said. "They have taken the information we give them in our Creative Dramatics classes and transferred it to their performances. As an instructor, that's what you want to happen, and they make it happen so beautifully in this production. Can you tell how proud I am of them?"

Adding to the fun of each performance will be the presentation of other Rudyard Kipling stories acted out by students from two other Lafayette Theatre Academy programs. Acting Out is the newest and youngest academy class for Pre-K through first graders. Dramatically Unique is an all-inclusive class which provides a transitional curriculum for exceptional students with different abilities and limited theatrical experience. Each of these classes will be presenting a scene from Kipling's "Just So Stories."

"This production is also about community."
THE JUNGLE BOOK is about community
The Lafayette Theatre Academy - ArtReach's The Jungle Book

"Experience on stage is a vital part of any theatre education, and these brief scenes are the perfect way for our Acting Out and Dramatically Unique students to perform in front of an audience without having the pressure involved in a full-production," said Amy McDow, director of the Lafayette Theatre Academy. "We are so proud of each student in the academy and are thrilled to see many of them take the stage for the first time in this engaging production."

"Can you tell how proud I am of them?"

The Lafayette Theatre Academy - ArtReach's The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is presented by Kid's Zone Dentistry and additionally sponsored by All Pro Auto Group and Eastern Industries.  The Lafayette Theatre Academy is a part of the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts, located in downtown LaGrange.  Performances of The Jungle Book are held in the LTC Black Box Theatre in their picnic theatre setting.

BWW Review: ArtReach's The Wizard of Oz at The Producer's Club, NYC
By Donna Marie-Nowak,

Tucked away in the heart of New York City's theater district - known as Broadway (although only those with 500 seats or more can officially be called Broadway theaters) -- are many off- and off-off-Broadway gems like the Producer's Club which make theater accessible and affordable to thespians and audiences alike.

At the Producer's Club on July 28, 2018, AlphaNYC Theater Company presented the beloved children's classic The Wizard of Oz. It tells the indelible tale of farm girl Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto who travel to Oz via tornado. The show is directed by Elizabeth Aquino and the story is adapted by award-winning playwright Kathryn Schultz Miller. Based on L. Frank Baum's popular book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), which spawned 13 sequels, MGM's 1939 film The Wizard of Oz became one of the greatest and most iconic films of all time, an enduring part of our cultural history. Its sublime star Judy Garland, forever associated with it, remains equally an icon. With its simple but profound theme of longing for faraway worlds "over the rainbow" and finding that those searches for our heart's desire ultimately lead home, The Wizard of Oz is a universal and timeless story.

ArtReach's Wizard of Oz Off-Broadway Production
ArtReach's script Wizard of Oz Wizard of Oz performed by Kids
"Each actor brings something distinctive and original to her role,
aided by the script's engaging, child-friendly wit."

The simple backdrop depicts cornfields and a yellow brick road, including emerald green curtains. Perhaps one interpretation of the tale's subtext would be about surviving through imagination and dreams. It reminds us that even in Oz, Dorothy travels through farmlands similar to her native Kansas, except they are suffused with color. (The book opens, in fact, with describing the gray and joyless plains that Dorothy inhabits, noting that Toto was not gray and made Dorothy laugh, saving her from becoming as gray as her surroundings.) But on a literal level, the friendly and fanciful characters and spunky "child" heroine speak for themselves.

The story is condensed into an economical 30 minutes to engage young audiences. Schultz Miller makes some imaginative tweaks, while maintaining all the signature elements of the plot (including famous lines from the film). It is an all-female cast with each actor bringing something distinctive and original to her role, aided by the script's engaging, child-friendly wit.

"Actors aided by the script's engaging, child-friendly wit."
ArtReach's Wizard of Oz script Wizard playscript for kids to perform Kids perform in Wizard of Oz
ArtReach's Wizard of Oz - Sacred Heart School, Louisville KY

Throughout the show narrator Veronica Murphy is perched in a corner of the stage and holding a book, lending an apt story-time atmosphere. Kansas farm girl Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto are whisked away to the Land of Oz by a tornado where they meet a Scarecrow (without a brain), a Lion (without courage) and a Tinman or, rather, Tinwoman (without a heart).

The trio of misfits join Dorothy in her journey down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City where they each hope the Great Wizard of Oz will give them the qualities they lack. In Dorothy's case, she wants to go home. But when they finally reach Oz, the Wizard tells them they must kill the Wicked Witch of the West first before their wishes are granted.

Hannah Rahe Goodman as Dorothy gets her spirit - a combination of sweetness ("I, the meek") and sass when pushed. When the Wizard boasts, "I remember everything because I am so great and wise," Dorothy says, "You've already told us that. It's not polite to repeat yourself." Karen Goldfarb, with great comedic presence, plays four different characters, including Auntie Em and one of the Wicked Witch's monkeys. She uses a broad and lively delivery that is perfect for children and makes the adults laugh as well.

"A little bit of magic on a shoestring."
Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz Gatekeeper in Wizard of Oz play for kids to perform Kids perform in ArtReach's Wizard of Oz
ArtReach's Wizard of Oz - Sacred Heart School, Louisville KY

Jayla P. Corbin delights as Toto and truly brings to mind an inquisitive, little dog; it is Toto, not the humans, who unmask the Wizard, after all. The dog remains a vital character, making frequent, little "ruff ruffs!" When she meets the Scarecrow, she paws him curiously until the Scarecrow cries, "Seriously?" She also nabs a bag of potato chips an audience member allegedly left behind.

Sarah Middough, playing both Glinda, the Good Witch, and the Wicked Witch of the West, is utterly sensational. Schulz Miller has reimagined the Wicked Witch as one-eyed, which makes a wonderful visual like a squinting pirate, and Middough uses great physical flourish and vocals deliciously recalling Margaret Hamilton's unforgettable film witch. ("They don't call me wicked for nothing," she pipes at one point.)

Wizard of Oz cast meets kidsThe cast is rounded out by Ambrealys as the Scarecrow, Catherine E. Seraceno as the Cowardly Lion, Stacy DeGolier as the Tinwoman and Niki Rose Woods as both the Gatekeeper and the Wizard. They are all delightful and play beautifully to the kids in the audience, being both engaging and relatable.

At the end of the show, children in the audience are invited to come onstage and take photos with their favorite characters. One little girl didn't want to leave the stage.

AlphaNYC's Wizard of Oz offers a little bit of magic on a shoestring and a way to introduce children to beloved classics. It also enables families to go to the theater without breaking the bank. Best of all, it's fun for all ages and frequently made me laugh out loud. (When the Scarecrow finally gets her brain, she crows, "I before E except after C" to prove it.)

THE WIZARD OF OZ played at the Producer's Club on July 28, 2018 at 10am, 11am, 12pm and 1pm. The Producer's Club is located at 358 West 44th Street in New York City.

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