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A Thousand Cranes Review, Festival Performance: "Highly, highly recommended."
Book By Kathryn Schultz Miller. Adelaide Fringe Festival 2019, Australia.
The Gemini Collective. Theatre One @ The Parks Theatres. 5-11 March, 2019

Kathryn Schultz Miller's A Thousand Cranes by Adelaide's 'cross-art form' company The Gemini Collective is based on the internationally acclaimed children's novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Canadian-American author Eleanor Coerr.

Set in post-WW2 Japan it is loosely based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, whose statue holding a golden crane stands in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in modern-day Japan.

Why one thousand cranes? Because if you make that many paper cranes the ancestors, and/or Gods, will grant you a wish. For 12-years-old Sadako, survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb 6 August 1945 when she was 2 years old, this wish is for a cure for the terminal leukemia that is slowly killing her due to the radiation from the atomic bomb.

"Sadako Sasaki's story is truly marvelous."
A Thousand Cranes Sadako's Story Re-imagined.
Adelaide Fringe Festival 2019.  The Gemini Collective.

Sadako Sasaki may represent innocent victims of nuclear warfare, but she has also come to represent the hopes and dreams of millions of children throughout the modern world. Every day thousands of paper crane arrive to be placed on her statue from children around the world. Sadako Sasaki's 'Thousand Cranes' stands as a symbol, a vital symbol of Hope.

The new musical version of Sadako Sasaki's story is a truly marvelous. This is mainly due to its poignancy, as well as its elegant, sophisticated and imaginative realization in this production, as envisaged by Sarah Williams (Director/Choreographer), Anthony Butler (co-Director/Designer) and Jennifer Trijo (Musical Director/Composer). Plus, there is a truly exceptional Adelaide cast lead by child actors Maddy Flapper (Sadako), Calin Diamond (Kenji), with Iman Saleh (Father), Jess Goc-Ong (Mother/Obachan), as well as 'on-stage swing' Arwen Diamond.

Without exception they all give terrific performances, bringing to life this deeply moving tale about death and hope. It is without doubt, for me, the strongest and most consistent and uniformly most powerful ensemble of community actors that I have recently seen in Adelaide.

"Elegant, sophisticated and imaginative."
Cast of A Thousand Cranes Ariel Gymnastics in A Thousand Cranes
Adelaide Fringe Festival 2019. The Gemini Collective.

High praise indeed, but completely deserved. This is primarily due the various creative and expressive dynamics employed in telling this tale. This includes acting, singing, dancing, playing instruments, working as stage-crew, as well as heart-stopping aerial gymnastics by Maddy Flapper.

Highly, highly recommended.

Tony Knight, Stage Whispers


ROBIN HOOD Hits The Bullseye
BWW Reviews by Teresa Rodrick, Jun. 9, 2014  

If you have children and you live in the Treasure Valley, you need to know about Treasure Valley Children's Theater (TVCT) and Treasure Valley Youth Theater (TVYT).  These two programs were started by Autumn Kersey and they will keep the children in the valley entertained and entertaining.

ArtReach's ROBIN HOOD Comedy & Improv in ROBIN HOOD
Treasure Valley Children's Theatre, ROBIN HOOD

This production was ROBIN HOOD (an interactive play for young audiences by ArtReach's Kathryn Schultz Miller).  Many of the children polled in the audience had not seen or heard ROBIN HOOD, however, they all enjoyed the performance. The actors are professional how they present the children's play and a few of them are professional comedians in Poise (improve helps when you work with children).  This story of ROBIN HOOD is told to us by three actors: Jordan Peterson, Jared Stull, and Nicole Stull (the Stulls are players with ComedySportz improve group, as well). We are told of how King Richard has gone off to war and left Prince John to run the kingdom.  Prince John is the kind of character toward who the audience "Boos".  The prince wants to marry Mad Marian but she is in love with Robin Hood.  The audience is told exciting tales of how Maid Marian and Robin Hood get together.

The Productions I have seen by Treasure Valley children's Theatre are great at getting the audience involved and keeping them there!


ArtReach's School Play Becomes Epic Musical: The Legend of Mulan
Stamford School, Bandung Indonesia
Directed by, Mary Jane Luyon

The Legend of Mulan is based on an ancient Chinese poem that has been the inspiration for countless films, books and television productions around the world. The story was selected for our musical this year because of its inspiring message about the spirit of adventure and courage as well as its incredibly empowering message to women and girls

The Legend of Mulan Child performers in Mulan The Story of Hua Mulan
Extravagant Production of Legend of Mulan -  Stamford International School Allegro Altura Complex Bandung, Indonesia

This school production took almost one semester of casting, rehearsal and preparations. More than 60 students auditioned for roles, reflecting our students' excitement and anticipation of this event.

Throughout this long and enjoyable journey of preparation, the whole school displayed their talent, commitment and hard work and learned about the joys of working together and relying on each other as a group. The whole school community faced obstacles, solved problems and met challenges together.

Screen capture from Video of Mulan

We thank parents for their unfailing commitment and support of this very successful event.


"Blue Horses"
Herald & Review, Decatur, IL

Co produced by Decatur's Golden K (Kiwanis) and the Millikin School of Theatre and Dance, this year's Theatre for Children is  "Blue Horses" by Kathryn Schultz Miller.

Blue Horses small cast play for young audiences

On a summer evening four young people don't want to go home just yet. One invents a game of "wish upon a star" which demands that each friend tell a life story in which the others can take roles and help the central characters achieve their goals. One rides his intergalactic bicycle through the asteroid belt to a distant plant to discover and defend against hostile beings. Another wishes for his twin brother to help him solve the day-to-day problems of schoolwork. His wish is granted until he discovers his unique talents and chooses to be independent again.

Finally, one who struggles to be normal in her family of artists find that vision improves when horses really can be blue. Each person's story helps him or understand and assist one another in the trials and tribulations of grow up, gaining self-confidence and making friends.


High School Students Perform Sleepy Hollow
The Nashville News, TN

The Nashville Community High School will present a classic tale of chills and thrills with its upcoming fall play.

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" opens on Friday, October 19 at 7 p.m. in the NCHS Auditorium with additional performances on Saturday,, October 20 and Sunday, October 21 at 3 p.m. Admission is $5.

The story follows the American gothic tale by Washington Irving, and it is adapted by Kathryn Schultz Miller.


Nashville High School Performs "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Set in 1790 in the countryside around a colonial Dutch settlement, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" follows the adventures of the bumbling, awkward schoolteacher Ichabod; the coquettish Katrina; and Ichabod's rival Brom Bones. There will be six characters who play the storytellers who help keep the action going throughout the play.

The play also includes the famous Headless Horseman, who will arrive near the end.


Osceola Children's Theatre presents 'A Christmas Peter Pan'
Osceola Sentinel-Tribune

It's time for a magical, holiday adventure.

The 26-member Osceola Children's Theatre will present the musical production "A Christmas Peter Pan" 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, and Saturday, Nov. 21, at Clarke Community High School's auditorium.

Director Kathy Kooiker has been working with these four through 10-year-old children for 10 weeks in a story that tells the tale of Peter Pan trying to rescue a kidnapped Santa Claus from the wicked Captain Hook and his band of rowdy pirates.

"Appropriate for all ages, from toddlers to grandparents."
Cast photo of Osceola Elem School
Osceola Children's Theatre - A Christmas Peter Pan

The toys have escaped Santa's workshop, the elves are trying to find them and the Darling children have followed Tinker Bell and Peter Pan to Neverland to try and help save Christmas.

Live theatre: "This would be a great first experience!"
A Christmas Peter Pan Great for Large Groups of Kids!  A Christmas Peter Pan! Kids dress up as their favorite toys.  A Christmas Peter Pan for Kids
Osceola Children's Theatre - A Christmas Peter Pan

Kooiker said the show is appropriate for all ages, from toddlers to grandparents.

"If you have never brought your child to a live theatre production, this would be a great first experience," she said. "We keep things very child-friendly and children love watching other children on stage. The is even a little audience participation that will allow you to really feel like a part of the show."

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and there are no reserved seats, so those to first arrive have first seating choice. The show lasts approximately one hour.


Level up with The Reluctant Dragon at the Peterborough Theatre Guild
Family-friendly production re-imagined as 8-bit video game

Kawarthanow.com  Peterborough, Ontario
By Sam Tweedle

Katherine Mason as Widget, Samuelle Weatherdon as Mortimer the Dragon, and Emily Keller as Hairytoes at a dress rehearsal for "The Reluctant Dragon", the Peterborough Theatre Guild's annual holiday family play which opens on December 6 (photo: Sam Tweedle / kawarthaNOW)

For the past number of years, the Peterborough Theatre Guild has pushed the envelope in creating intelligent and well-produced family theatre for their annual December show.   However, this year director Derek Weatherdon is planning to push the envelope even more when he presents a brand new high-concept version of Kathryn Schultz Miller's play The Reluctant Dragon, based on the book by Kenneth Grahame.  Featuring a cast of more than a dozen young performers joined by three adult actors, Derek is reimagining the story in the form of an 8-bit video game that will appeal to audiences of all ages.

"We were really lucky that we selected a script that came with editing rights," Derek says. "That gave us the opportunity to make all the changes that we wanted to."

"I didn't rewrite the plot or the dialogue," he adds. "The story is the same. You've got a kid, a dragon, and a knight. That doesn't change. But how we present the story is a little more novel. Our story takes place inside of a video game. This is our big clever hook."

In the spirit of video games like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, Derek and his company create a magical world of villagers and shepherds, knights and soothsayers, and a misunderstood dragon.   When video game characters Widget (Katherine Mason) and Hairytoes (Emily Keller) discover a friendly dragon named Mortimer (Samuelle Weatherdon), their discovery soon alerts the town's cruel Prince Scumworth (Issac Maker) who calls upon the fabled dragon slayer Saint George (Josh Butcher) to come out of retirement for one last battle.

With their new friend in peril, Widget and Hairytoes must find a way to save Mortimer, who has little desire to fight for her life.

"Our story takes place inside a video game."

Josh Butcher as Saint George the Dragon Slayer, one of only three adult actors in the play
faces off against Samuelle Weatherdon as Mortimer during a dress rehearsal.  (photo: Sam Tweedle / kawarthaNOW)

As an added element to the drama, the play takes place inside of a video game controlled by a character called Gamer Girl, played by Aimee Gordon. Described by Aimee as being unlike any of the characters within the play, Gamer Girl was developed as a unique way to create multiple points of contact between the audience and the actors.

"While everybody else is in the video game, I'm the one who's playing it," Aimee explains. "So I watch what's going on and I make commentary that has nothing to do with the plot. I'm the character the audience can relate to, because they really can't relate to video game characters."

This is a departure from the original script, which calls for five narrators who tell the audience what is happening. 

"I don't like narrators," Derek says. "It takes you out of the moment of the drama. So what I did was bring all of those narrators together and give the lines to a character who is playing the game."

Aimee explains why she enjoys her role as Gamer Girl.

"I've always played characters that are sweet girls who are nice to everyone," Aimee says. "I like this role because she's sassy and she just says what she's thinking."

Although this is his first year directing the Guild's Christmas family show, Derek has also directed a number of productions at Queen Elizabeth Public School where he teaches. In fact, Derek convinced a number of students he worked with in past productions, as well as adults who worked on sets for the show, to come work on The Reluctant Dragon.  "One of things I wanted to do in directing this play was bring some of the talented youngsters I have worked with at Queen Elizabeth Public School with me to the Guild," Derek says. "Young talent deserves the chance to shine and grow, and working on a larger scale like this is the logical next step."

Katherine Mason and Emily Keller, who plays the show's two central characters Widget and Hairytoes, are not only former students of Derek's, but they've worked together on his previous shows and are real-life best friends. This makes for a natural chemistry between these two young performers making their debut on the Theatre Guild stage.

"I'm a kid with an unfortunate name," says Emily of her character Hairytoes. "Basically I meet the dragon and I think he's pretty awesome. I like the dragon because he plays Scrabble."

 "The dragon isn't so keen on me though," adds Katherine. "She likes Hairytoes more than me, and I don't like that I'm losing my friend to the dragon."

In the role of Mortimer the dragon is Samuelle Weatherdon, who takes on different voices as well as engaging in stage fights to perform the role.

"To become a dragon you have to abandon all sense of humanity," Sam says with a coy grin. "You just can't be human. You just have to be a dragon. You walk weird and you talk weird."

What is different this year is that adult actors, who were absent in the past two previous shows, are returning to the stage for this production. Although greatly outnumbered by the young actors, The Reluctant Dragon features the talents of local favourites Josh Butcher, Kelsey Gordon-Powell, and Sylvie Dasne.

"If you're going to have children playing adults, that's great in an elementary school," Derek says. "But when you've got access to adults, let them play the adults. There are also great opportunities for mentorship there, and you create a more realistic theatre experience for new actors."

"I've always loved working with a younger cast, and this bunch is one of the best casts I've ever worked with," says Josh Butcher of his young co-stars. "They are very focused, very attentive, and very talented, and lots of fun to work with."  "I think we really lucked out with some of our casting," Derek adds. "We have a variety of experience, from multi-page resumes to having never been on stage before, and everyone has done a great job of buying in to what we are trying to do."

Derek and his company are seeking to create a theatrical experience that's not considered a family show, but a piece of theatre that families can enjoy together.

"Despite the fact we are the family show at the Guild, and that traditionally means an all or mostly youth cast, we don't see this as a kid's show," Derek points out. "It's a show, period. It's for kids and by kids, but it's a show. We don't want anyone leaving saying 'That was a great show &ldots; for a bunch of kids'. We want them saying 'That was a great show.' Full stop."

Both Aimee and Samuelle agree with Derek.  "Usually when people think of a children's show, they think of people bringing in their own costumes and not having a set and being done on a school stage," Aimee says. "This is not like that."

"In most children's shows, nobody grows and nobody changes," Samuelle adds. "This isn't a kid's show. This is just a show that has kids in it."

"That's what you want from a good play."
 
Peterborough Theatre Guild's The Reluctant Dragon

"It has ups and downs. People grow. People change. That's what you want from a good play. You don't want a character to do a bunch of stuff and then nothing changes. You want a group of people who do stuff and make changes. You want to feel for the characters. You want to understand their challenges and how they create the solutions to those problems. You want to see that happen."

Filled with clever dialogue, inside gamer jokes, and a young and vibrant cast of new faces, The Reluctant Dragon is a smart and highly original show that both adults and children can enjoy together.

"This is going to be a fantastic show," Josh says. "It's not going to be just laughs and funs and video game lulz. This is going to have everything in it. It's going to be an emotional rollercoaster ride."

A favourite holiday tradition for families in the Kawarthas, the Peterborough Theatre Guild's family show always delivers and this year is no exception. Derek and his company have created something pretty fantastic.  Tickets for the annual show go fast, so make sure to purchase your tickets from the box office as soon as possible. This is a show that you don't want to miss out on.


ACT's 'Peter Pan' A  Fun Play for All Ages
The Daily Republic, Mitchell, SD; By [email protected]

Other than Neverland, the magical home of Peter Pan, there's no place an Area Community Theatre audience can watch edgy sword fights with no-good pirates, a daring rescue of a princess and children flying through the night sky.

The tale of Peter Pan and Wendy will take theater-goers back to their youth in the second children's production this summer. The play was originally written by J.M. Barrie and has been adapted for a young cast by Kathryn Schultz Miller.

"Peter Pan" starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre for the performing arts. Tickets are $5 each for general admission seating.

"What they have put together is incredible."
ArtReach's Peter Pan for Kids to Perform
Photo:  Katelyn Biggerstaff, right, who plays Wendy, sews on Peter Pan's shadow in a rehearsal for the Mitchell Area Community Theatre and Mitchell Parks and Recreation production of "Peter Pan" Wednesday. Peter Pan is played by Marissa Moller and Peter Pan's shadow is played by Sarah Moore. (Photos by Jennifer Jungwirth/Republic)

The show includes all the classic scenes in the "Peter Pan" story adults and children heard growing up -- finding Peter Pan's shadow, the lost boys looking for a mother, Hook's kidnapping of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan's brave attempt to save her, the mermaids and the crocodile that took Hook's right hand.

A summer collaboration between the ACT and the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Department, "Peter Pan" includes a cast of 25 under the direction of South Dakota State University sophomore Jacob Pecenka, and Brianna Bernard and Emily Grode, who graduated from Mitchell High School this past year.

The show is a five-week program for youth that is meant to teach theater basics. Students started the first week playing games on stage to get them accustomed to each other and the theater atmosphere. Then they read through different parts in the script before casting. Rehearsals continued for a month. Besides starring in the play, the students also help design and create the costumes and set.

"It gives them the full experience of the theater program," Pecenka said. 

This is Pecenka's second year directing the children's theater, and he said he's found the experience to really open the kids up. 

"It's fun to see the kids that performed last year sign up again and to see the change in them," he said. 

And even though they are young actors and actresses, the kids are able to develop their characters and make them their own. 

"We're essentially just direction," Pecenka said of the directors. "What they have put together is incredible."

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