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A Play for Young Audiences by Kathryn Schultz Miller

An ensemble of teens performing for their peers at local middle and high schools!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 6:30 pm
LOCATION: Theatre Winter Haven |
TICKETS: $5 General Admission
Co-produced by The George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Foundation

Please stop by the Box Office to purchase your tickets!

CTW Presents The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Widener Children’s Theatre Workshop

The Widener Children’s Theatre Workshop (CTW) performed The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the famed ghost story originally penned by Washington Irving, on November 3, 4, and 6. Unlike Washington Irving’s or Tim Burton’s version of the story, this was specifically written for a younger audience.

Widener Children’s Theatre Workshop

The story still follows the same basic plot: a middle-aged school teacher named Ichabod Crane (Brian Harrington) comes to the town of Sleepy Hollow to take a job as the new school teacher. Ichabod falls for the young Katrina Van Tassel (Kara Gilbert), a woman whom Brom Bones (Jon Owens) has already spoken for. Brom wastes no time in telling Ichabod of the Headless Horseman (Dan Cronin), the ghost who haunts the bridge in the town. This version deviates the most from the others in the play’s climax when Ichabod meets his demise at the hands of the Headless Horseman. Unlike other adaptations, CTW’s production contains more comic relief and less scares.

The play, however, was meant specifically for children and in that regard was a success. The children in the audience were very receptive, both during and after the show. "I would ask rhetorical questions and they would answer,” Harrington said of his performance. "They’re a lot more receptive.” Cronin offered a similar sentiment. "With adult theater, people are more subdued. What makes it special for [children] is knowing it played for them.” During the show, many of the children offered more audible cues than simply laughter or screaming. If there was a plot point, for example, that a child didn’t understand, he would express that aloud.

As a 20-year-old writer, it’s difficult to put myself in the mindset of a child and enjoy it in that manner. However, I agree with the performers that the children in attendance found it extremely enjoyable. As a college student, I didn’t find the conclusion frightening, but if I were in grade school, I probably would have. During the show’s confrontation between Ichabod and the Horseman, the audience reacted the most, both with laughter and screams.

Unlike traditional theater, this production took full advantage of the building in which it was being performed. Most theater creates a separation between the audience and the performers; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow instead tried to build a gap between the two. During the climax, Ichabod is chased by the Horseman not just on the stage, but through the isles and the seats, which allowed the audience to react even more strongly. To further solidify the union between the performers and the audience, after the performance the cast took questions from the audience.

To be sure, the response I got from the cast was that it was equally as fun for them as it was for the children. "I got a real kick out of making six hundred kids scream,” said a smiling Cronin. Lisa Eckley Cocchiarale, the director of the play, described it as being an intelligent play made specifically for kids. If the reactions of the children were any indication, the play was a success.

Hiroshima Survivor Honored by ‘A Thousand Cranes’ Cast Members
From Salisbury Post (NC) - March 8, 2014

"Suddenly,” Leonard said, "the play means more. Art is not just about applause. It has a history. There’s a lot of good things in it.”

JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST Bayleigh Grace Miller , who plays one of the parts of main character Sadako in the production of

"It was kind of like a connection between me and her. I’m Sadako, and she’s Sadako, too.”

Piedmont Players Theatre’s "A Thousand Cranes” is the story of a young girl growing up in the shadow of Hiroshima. But to the young cast members, it’s become much more than that.  They’ve had the opportunity to meet Yoshiko Otey, who survived the bombing of Hiroshima.

And in between shows for the county’s fourth-graders this week at the Norvell Theatre, they were folding 1,000 cranes for her.

When Otey was diagnosed with lymphoma a few years ago, their daughter sent her a box of tiny cranes. It meant more to Otey than any words her daughter could’ve said.

The cast decided to do the same to wish her well.

In the play, the girl, Sadako, becomes ill 10 years after the bombing of Hiroshima.  She wanted to fold 1,000 cranes, based on the legend that doing so would restore her to health. She only made 644 before her death, but her classmates finished for her, making an additional 356 cranes.  Today, a statue in her honor can be found in Hiroshima — a cry for peace from children.

JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST: Fleming Otey helps Vivien Rudisell with her costume.
Rudisell plays the part of the grandmother in the Norvell Children's Theater production
of A Thousand Cranes.

At 9 a.m., they’d performed for a house full of students, all sitting in hushed excitement, eager to see the 30-minute, one-act play.

Their admission ticket? A folded crane.

There were already hundreds of colorful cranes decorating the lobby.  Director Reid Leonard said the lobby would be full of cranes by the end of the week. Theoretically, he said, the cast could give three people 1,000 cranes each — in addition to the 1,000 they were making for Otey.  "We’re in the healing business now,” Leonard said. "It’s one of the things this cast never expected.”

You never know exactly where a show will go, Leonard noted. "You just launch it and hope.”  Each cast member dropped a completed crane into his or her own small, plastic laundry basket. The Oteys stood nearby, looking on with gentle smiles.

Pastor Otey has seen the play more than once.  "It’s just as strong each time,” he said.

Seeing the play for Yoshiko Otey has been emotional but healing, she said. "It’s been such a long time. It’s like waking up from a dream.”  Following treatment, Otey is doing well.

A Great Review for A Thousand Cranes
Theatre Review: Childsplay, Tempe Center for the Arts
By David Appleford, Phoenix AZ

Sadako was just three years old when the United States dropped the atomic bomb in 1945.  Her home was little more than a mile from where it fell.  Years later, while training for a foot race with her friend Kenji Sadako feels a pain which causes her to stumble.  Doctors diagnose leukemia, a direct result of the fall of the atomic bomb.  Sadako is still too young to understand why she’s become affected by something that happened several years ago but her mother tells her "Radiation doesn’t always show up straight away.”

ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes (small cast version)

When Kenji visits the ailing Sadako by her bedside he offers her a folded crane as a gift and explains why.  Japanese legend has it that if a sick person makes a thousand paper cranes then the gods will grant her wish of health again.  Inspired by Kenji’s story, Sadako attempts to reach that number.

Told in just under forty-five minutes with no intermission, director Dwayne Hartford’s production presents its story with grace, poise and theatrical precision.  Holly Windingstand’s wonderful looking scenic design is based on Noh, a form of historical Japanese theatre which originates back as early as the fourteenth century.  Here we have a raised floor backed by the traditional painted design of a pine tree all under a raised roof.  Stage right stands a sound station where actors produce sound effects and play drums throughout, highlighting moments of action and movement and underlining the drama.

ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes (small cast version)

It’s amazing that in such a short amount of time, some important themes, issues and traditions are explored in a manner that can’t help but inspire young minds to want to learn more.  In addition to the more obvious themes of war, the atomic bomb and radiation, there are also examples of respect for traditions, discipline at home, love of family and pin of eventual loss, not to mention that many, A Thousand Cranes may even be a child’s initial introduction to the fun of origami.

Like everything throughout the play, the moment when the bomb drops is handled with taste, style and, in keeping with the traditions of Noh Japanese theatre, even elegance.  There’s a flash of light followed by a boom of sound.  "The thunderbolt” Sadako’s father begins.  "It took our friends, it took our home.  It took your grandmother.”

Today a statue of Sadako stands in Japan’s Hiroshima Peace Park.  Once a year there’s a holiday called Obon Day.  This is where the country remembers the spirits of ancestors and close family members who have passed on.  Each year, on Obon Day, Japan plays tribute to the young girl and other children who died from the radiation effects of the bomb by leaving thousands of paper cranes by the statue.  Childsplay’s A Thousand cranes shows why.

"This is Our Cry - This is Our Prayer..."
Hiroshima Peace Park Seattle Peace Park Nagasaki Monument

Following the play, audiences are treated to both an Origami family activity plus a brief Q&A session with the cast.  This not only gives audiences a chance to ask questions regarding Sadako but also about theatre in general.  At the performance this reviewer attended a child asked Michelle a question regarding D. Daniel Hollingshead’s eye catching costume designs, particularly Sadako’s kimono.  Michelle mentioned how long it would normally take someone from Japan to properly attire themselves of such a complicated outfit, then proceeded to unsnap Hollinghead’s clever all-in-one design illustrating how performers can effectively change costumes in an instant. 

If excited comments overheard in the lobby after the show are anything to go by, this single simple moment of theatrical reveal was just as inspiring to some as the play itself.  Thank about it.  How priceless is that?

-- David Appleford, Phoenix AZ

World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People
ASSITEJ:  Uniting theatres, organizations and individuals throughout the world

Did you know that Children’s Theatre has its own worldwide advocacy origination?  It’s called ASSITEJ which stands for International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People.  They sponsor a global event entitled The World Day of Theatre for Children and young people, an ASSITEJ campaign, promoted and celebrated through the message ‘Take a Child to the Theatre Today’.

"World Day campaign enables National Centres, individual members, companies, arts organisations, academics, teachers, artists, practitioners and others interested in theatre for young audiences to connect with the idea of World Day and ‘make the case’ for children’s entitlement to theatre and the arts. Individuals from across the world are invited to promote the World Day messages and consider additional activity – large or small. Each year ASSITEJ Centres around the globe deliver activities ranging from conferences, performances, workshops and special media events, connected to #takeachildtothetheatre.”

Learn more at ASSITEJ website:

A Christmas Wish from Lewis Carroll
To All Child Readers of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll, 1871 

Dear Children,

At Christmas-time a few grave words are not quite out of place, I hope, even at the end of a book of nonsense - and I want to take this opportunity of thanking the thousands of children who have read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, for the kindly interest they have taken in my little dream-child.

ArtReach’s Alice in Christmas Land
Creative staging makes Alice in Christmas Land easy for schools! Perfect Alice in Christmas Land for kids!
Golfshore Playhouse, FL - Brandenburg Elementary School, Irving, TX

The thought of the many English firesides where happy faces have smiled her a welcome, and of the many English children to whom she has brought an hour of (I trust) innocent amusement, is one of the brightest and pleasantest thoughts of my life. I have a host of young friends already, whose names and faces I know - but I cannot help feeling as if, through "Alice's Adventures" I had made friends with many other dear children, whose faces I shall never see.

To all my little friends, known and unknown, I wish with all my heart, "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year". May God bless you, dear children, and make each Christmas-tide, as it comes round to you, more bright and beautiful than the last - bright with the presence of that unseen Friend, who once on earth blessed little children - and beautiful with memories of a loving life, which has sought and found the truest kind of happiness, the only kind that is really worth the having, the happiness of making others happy too!

Your affectionate Friend,
Lewis Carroll
December 25, 1871

Mount Hood Community Theatre, Gresham Oregon
November 12, 2017

"The Jungle Book," a play adapted for children by playwright Kathryn Schultz Miller, is being performed by MHCC theatre arts students for local children to enjoy and be drawn to, making it a great event for families with young ones.

Borrowing from the book by Rudyard Kipling published in 1894, the Children's Theatre Workshop show is about a boy, Mowgli, who is raised by wolves when he is forced to leave his jungle home in India because of a vicious tiger who threatens him.

This sends Mowgli on a journey with a sensible panther named Bagheera, and a humorous bear, Baloo. He meets many different animals throughout his adventure as they come together and form one big team and embrace their wild lifestyle.

The MHCC audience will get taken on an adventure while the Mt. Hood actors transform themselves into wild animals from the story. The cast seems to maintain strong focus despite having to account for 400 young children, and the actors aren't afraid to go beyond the stage as they chase Mowgli around the auditorium.

"Kids Jump With Excitement"
MHCC's Production of THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kaa, Mount Hood's Production of ArtReach's THE JUNGLE BOOK

Joining in a game of hide-and-seek, children in the audience will be sure to shout out and give away any of the hiding actors to the others, making it fun and interactive. The costumes are colorful and creative as one of the actors is transformed into a devious python who hypnotizes the other animals. The set captures the essence of the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh in India, with its moving vines, bushes, and shrubs - something that looks like the theatre students had a lot of fun designing.

There are really fun effects with lighting that make the walls appear to move with a glow. There's also a vulture who swarms the audience, making kids jump with excitement.

The show is long enough to cover the original story, yet short enough to maintain everyone's attention. The actors seem to bring the better-known jungle animals to the stage, so no one's favorite animal gets left out. The porcupine's costume makes the audience gasp as the character appears on stage showing off its prickly back, and the elephants inspire a unique costume idea for Halloween next year.

While several weekday morning performances in the College Theatre are reserved for area school groups (note: MHCC students and staff are invited to slip into empty seats), there's one showing for the general public at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18.  At the MHCC Performing Arts office, Room AC2134 on the Gresham campus.

The Making of the Jungle Book Poster at Mt. Hood Community College
More About Mount Hood's Production: Poster Art
Published on Nov 17, 2017

At Mt. Hood Community College, our Academic programs find unique and creative ways to collaborate. For example, when the MHCC Theatre program needed some posters for its fall production of the Jungle Book, it looked to the graphic design students of the college’s Integrated Media program. Check out the results for yourself!   Youtube:

What happened to Amelia Earhart? A new show explores the mystery, this weekend.
Lexington Herald Leader

"What Happened, Amelia?"

Emily Asbury plays the title role in "Amelia Earhart" at the Lexington Children's Theatre.
Mark Mahan Lexington Children's Theatre

By Rich Copley

It's one of those plays that makes reporters look cool, and you know, we're kind of partial to those. In "Amelia Earhart," a modern day journalist seeks to crack the mystery of what happened to the title aviator when she went missing over the Pacific Ocean during a 1937 attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

In addition to the mystery, the play lays out the many accomplishments of the First Lady of Flight. It's at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Lexington Children's Theatre, 418 West Short St. There are also school matinees this week and next. Contact the theater at or by calling 859-254-4546 for more information and tickets.

As a bonus, the Aviation Museum of Kentucky is offering free admission to kids who bring an Amelia Earhart ticket to the museum from Sept. 22 to Oct. 31. Find out more about the museum at

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