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News media articles, reviews, press releases for ArtReach plays
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A new twist on old Dickens
Review of ArtReach's stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol
By Jenna Prewett, Washington Times-Herald, IN

The Veale Creek Theatre is putting a new twist on an old tale this Christmas season.

The theatre will be presenting "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and adapted for the stage by Kathryn Schultz Miller of ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays, Bradenton FL.

"It's a new way to appreciate A Christmas Carol"
A Christmas Carol written for kids to perform
Young Cast Veale Creek Theatre, Washington IN

The original Charles Dickens tale tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old man who has spent his life being uncharitable and cruel toward others. On the night of Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley was greedy in life and, as a result, must wander the world in his death, weighed down by heavy chains. He warns Scrooge that he will spend his afterlife with the same fate, unless he changes his ways.

Throughout the night, Scrooge is visited by three different ghosts. These ghosts show Scrooge different aspects of his life and death in the hope he will change his self-serving ways.

"This musical teaches people to be kind and helpful to others," said Colin Craig, a 10-year-old boy playing Bob Crachit, Scrooge's accountant.

This particular adaptation of the popular novel features several different parts for children, as well as adults. The play features several different story tellers, including Charles Dickens and several fairies. Popular Christmas songs are also featured in this musical, including "Silent Night," "Joy to the World" and "Deck the Halls."

"It's a new way to appreciate 'A Christmas Carol' and get into the Christmas spirit," said Dean Dorrell, who plays Marley's ghost.

Veale Creek Theatre's 'A Christmas Carol' will run today and Nov. 29 through Dec. 1. The performances will begin at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children age 12 and under. Contact Hibbett Sports at 257-0892 to purchase tickets. Performance nights have already begun to sell out, so it's recommended to buy tickets ahead, rather than trying to buy them at the door.

"We hate to turn people away, but we love to turn people away," said Elke Guratzch, one of the directors. "It means we've sold out."

Music for the program will be performed by Elain Dahl, and refreshments will be provided in the theatre after the show.

A Thousand Cranes
By Kathryn Schultz Miller | Directed by David Hsieh
January 13, 2018 - February 3, 2018

A Thousand Cranes Kathryn Schultz MillerThe true and poignant story of Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on the small city of Hiroshima, where she lived. The star of her school's running team, Sadako is lively and athletic ... until the dizzy spells start. Then she must face the hardest race of her life - the race against time. A Thousand Cranes celebrates the courage that makes one young woman a heroine in Japan. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, completed in 1958, has a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane. At the base is a plaque that says: "This is our cry, this is our prayer: peace in the world."

Live Theater at the Redmond Town Center

The summer campers performing "A Thousand Cranes" are having a blast.
Grand Rapids Herald Review

Grand Rapids is a city that is proud of its spectacular theatre scene. At the base of this amazing theatre presence are the youth programs available for budding actors, costumers, tech helpers, and more. For 10 years, The Grand Rapids Players have been hosting a Summer Theatre Kids Camp for community kids interested in the world of theatre. 60 kids will be performing "Jungle Book" and "A Thousand Cranes" on Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, July 23 at 2 p.m. in the Reif Center.

The camp has always aimed to teach children as much as possible about theatre in a short three weeks; campers learn about acting, stage directions, blocking, costuming and makeup, set design, and much more.

"It's all about the kids, and exposing them to the entire world of theatre," said Sharon Marty-Rasmussen, who has been a director of the camp since its inception.

This year, the camp is switching things up. In past years, campers only performed one show. However, this year, the camp has split into two separate groups, and are performing two different shows, which are directed by Marty-Rasmussen, Jean Goad, Susie Morgan, and Taylor Eck. Dave Martin has also contributed to the camp this year.

The first group, which meets in the morning, will be performing Disney Junior's musical version of "Jungle Book." The story follows a young boy Mowgli, played by Manny Lister, who has adventures with his animal friends in the jungle.

The afternoon group will be performing the famous Japanese show "A Thousand Cranes," which tells the story of a girl Sadako, played by Lydia Mariano, who was diagnosed with leukemia in the aftermath of the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. This second show is a lot more serious than those the camp has tackled in the past.

"These guys are ready."
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Sadkao's True Story
The Grand Rapids Players, Summer Theatre Kids Camp

Marty-Rasmussen said this decision to have two groups was about including as many kids as possible, and letting the returning kids be challenged. The first group will be focusing on the fundamentals of theatre, and are performing a more lighthearted show. The second group is composed of campers with more theatre experience, and are taking on an emotionally complex show that is serious in tone. Those campers will be focusing on more complex emotion, character development, and advanced blocking.

"We have so many kids that want to come back, so it's time to let them move beyond," Marty-Rasmussen explained.

This is also the first year that the camp is held daily in the Reif Center. In the past, the camp was held in the old Grand Rapids Players building on the south side of town, and campers moved into the Reif for the last week of camp for a tech week. Marty-Rasmussen said being in the Reif for the whole camp has really streamlined the process.

Kids in both groups started rehearsing on July 5, and have learned a ton so far about the world of theatre. All campers are looking forward to performing for their families, friends, and community members.

The campers performing "A Thousand Cranes" said they are having a blast, and are learning a lot about theatre.

Students are "learning a lot about history by doing this show."
A Thousand Cranes Play for Kids Creative Opportunities in A Thousand Crane
The Grand Rapids Players, Summer Theatre Kids Camp

Andrew Kottke said he is learning a lot about history by doing this show. He expressed interest in World War II history, and found it interesting to learn about the tragic Japanese side of the story.

In general, the campers in "A Thousand Cranes" are enjoying doing a more serious show. It is a new thing for them, and it has been very educational.

"I just like how it's more of a serious play, it has a story with it," explained camper Morgan Tinquist.

"It's so sentimental," said camper Charli Seelye. "I can't wait to make the audience cry." 

The cast of "A Thousand Cranes" is also doing a little something special. In the show, Sadako folds 1,000 paper cranes in the hope that her with to live would be granted. Today, people from all around the world send paper cranes to the Children's Peace Monument, located in Hiroshima, Japan. The cast is in the process of folding 1,000 paper cranes, that they plan on sending to the monument. This has been an emotional experience for the campers.

All the campers and directors are looking forward to the performances in the Wilcox Theatre. They all hope to see the community there at the shows. Marty-Rasmussen has faith in all of the campers to perform two great shows.

"These guys are ready," she said, smiling. 

'Peter Pan' sprinkles enjoyment on RRES
Nelson County Times, Staff Reports Feb 14, 2017

Rockfish River Elementary School had an adventure to Neverland last Thursday as students were treated to a performance of "Peter Pan."

"Actors include students from second through fifth grade."
Peter Pan at Rockfish River School Captain Hook in Peter Pan Play Crocodile steals the show Peter Pan
The Play Peter Pan at Rockfish School, Lynchburg VA

Wendy, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and other legendary figures of the classic from novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie came to life in the school's cafeteria with plenty of laughter from the audience. Actors include students from second through fifth grade.

The Rockfish River Players is putting on the play this Wednesday, Feb. 15 and Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $3 at the door and children 2 and under are free, according to the school's website.

Theater Review: A Thousand Cranes by Studio 52 at Flat Rock Playhouse
Mountain Express, Ashville, NC

A Thousand Cranes opens with a stunning Kabuki theater-style dancer, who inhabits the stage with a silent, flowing grace. The show, at times, delves into Japanese culture and ritual, and the presence of this Kabuki Lion Dancer amplifies the differences between our culture and theirs. Sara Jane Killian performs this role with a poetic flourish.

"A Thousand Cranes packs an emotional wallop."

Studio 52 Kids fold cranes at Flat Rock Playhouse, Ashville, NC

The opening sequence is a series of vignettes that brings the audience from the humble lives of those living in Hiroshima to that fateful day, when the bomb - known as "Little Boy" - dropped from the Enola Gay bomber and forever altered countless innocent lives. The opening also includes Travis Pressley as an Enola Gay officer. He shares the reactions of the airmen who had no idea of the devastating impact of their duty that day. It is haunting and refreshing to experience that often-overlooked perspective.

By the end of the opening sequence, many audience members were softly weeping. It packs an emotional wallop. The show pivots to the mundane day to day lives that the survivors cobble for themselves afterward. For Sadako, reality is worrying about winning a school relay race and playing with her friends. The normalization after such a traumatic event is stark, and reminds us of the innocence of children. But Sadako's youthful journey is interrupted by Leukemia (which she develops a full decade years after the bomb decimated her family's lives and home). Her fight to overcome the disease is often sad, but also inspiring.

Many of the roles are cast with actors who alternate weekends of performance, but several play the same roles across the full run. Andrew Johnson and Aniela Lane play Sadako's parents, and though they are clearly too young to comprehend the span of emotions required, they give it their all and provide a solid anchor of emotion for the show.

Nearly two dozen young actors are a part of this production, with a dozen more involved behind the scenes. Their ambitious production is remarkable in its execution, and holds its own as a serious piece of theater, youth or otherwise. These kids and their families and friends should be proud of the powerful message they are presenting.

Celebrate season at Villagers Theatre with 'Christmas Peter Pan'
Franklin theater presents 'Christmas Peter Pan'

My Central Jersey:  Part of the USA Today Network

FRANKLIN (Somerset) - Capt. Hook is at it again! No longer satisfied with disrupting the peace in Neverland, he has decided to take a "stab" at ruining Christmas. That is the premise of "A Christmas Peter Pan" opening at the Villagers Theatre on Saturday and running through Dec. 20.

Hook's plan includes preventing Santa from making his deliveries, capturing Peter Pan to keep him from interfering with Part One of the plan, and, for extra-bad measure, scattering all the toys out over the frozen North Pole landscape. Now it's up to Tinker Bell and those darling kids, Wendy, Michael and John - with a little help from the audience - to save the day. 

"Captain Hook is at it again!"
Easy Musicals for Children to Perform!  A Christmas Peter Pan! Include Special Needs Kids!
Gorton Center, Lake Forest, IL - Christian Needs Center, LaMars IA

The production is directed by Tina Lee and produced by Paul Carver, both of township residents. Performances are 12 and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. on Sundays. The 12 p.m. performance on Dec. 19 is not open to the public and is reserved for the "My Name is Matthew" program. The purpose of the "My Name is Matthew" program is to invite children with special needs to enjoy the experience of live theatre.

Theatre Experience - The Dalles Chronicle
By Mark Gibson, Dalles OR

The Dalles Theater Company presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on June 23 (6 p.m.) and June 24 (2 p.m.) at The Dalles High School auditorium. The Dalles Theater Company will "bring to life the enchanting tale of the beautiful, gentle Snow White and her jealous stepmother, the Queen. Sent on a perilous journey into the woods, Snow White befriends the forest animals and the delightful seven dwarfs in this classic tale."  Doors open half an hour before each performance.

"Performing arts helps foster creative thinking."
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Play for Kids to Perform
The Dalles Theatre Company - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The Dalles Theatre Company sponsored a children's performance of ArtReach's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs this weekend at The Dalles High School Auditorium. Above, the 30-minute play climaxes with a rousing cheer of triumph.

In an age where performing arts, of any type, is sometimes eliminated from the classroom - TDYTC recognizes the importance and value such a program will have on our youth. Performing Arts helps foster creative thinking, improve positive self-worth and instill proper etiquette that children will use in their daily lives now and in adulthood. TDYTC will provide a safe learning environment where theatre skills will be all encompassing. Children will be given the opportunity to explore ALL aspects of the art of theatre. TDYTC recognizes that not everyone wants to be on stage. Therefore, learning set/prop building, lighting, staging, and costuming concepts will be offered as well.

Fleetwood Community Theatre presents The Velveteen Rabbit
A Christmas Musical by Margery Williams, adapted by Kathryn Schultz Miller, on Dec. 4 and 5.

On Christmas morning, a young boy receives, among many gifts, a stuffed velveteen rabbit. When the little stuffed Rabbit shows up under the tree, the other toys laugh at him. And although the little boy loves his little rabbit, it is often overshadowed by the other toys the boy likes better. But Skin Horse, the shabbiest and wisest toy in the nursery, tells him to be patient. A young boys love for his toys is a magical thing!

The cast brings to life this innovative, creative script which is full of lively action, comedy and tender moments! The production offers endless surprises, including a swashbuckling adventure and a spin on Christmas carols that will captivate audiences both young and old. Fleetwood Community Theatre's junior cast is comprised of young actors from all of Berks County and is directed by Debbi Silas, with Aimee Deibert as musical director and Ashley Frankhouser as choreographer.

"The production offers endless surprises."
The Velveteen Rabbit Play
Fleetwood Community Theatre performs The Velveteen Rabbit

Fleetwood Community Theatre is a volunteer organization of theatre lovers currently in their 28th season. FCT is committed to the education and development of their membership within the theatre arts program by offering opportunities to all ages both on-stage and behind the scenes. As an outlet of quality musical, dramatic and ensemble productions, it encourages and supports local youth to pursue performing arts opportunities through school, church, collegiate or other local productions.

The Velveteen Rabbit - A Christmas Musical is performed one weekend only at the Fleetwood Area Middle School Auditorium, 407 N. Richmond St., Fleetwood. Two performances are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. as well as a Saturday, Dec. 5, matinee performance at 2 p.m. Tickets are for sale. Tickets can be pre-purchased online at or by calling Fleetwood Community Theatre at 484-637-7067.

Finding the funny: Children's 'Pinocchio' show at Valley Center Stage gets the youth crowd's approval
by Carol Ladwig, Snoqualmie Valley Record and Sound Publishing, Inc

Logan Eubank is hooked. The 4-year-old is on the edge of his seat - make that his mom's lap - watching the adventures of Pinocchio in a new Valley Center Stage production. He grins when Lorenzo chases Pinocchio through the audience, chirps like a cricket on cue, nods his head vigorously in answer to "anyone want a free ride to the Land of Toys?" and, hands to his mouth, he looks really, really worried when Pinocchio's dad can't wake the boy-puppet up.

"Their imaginations are so limitless," said a gratified Craig Ewing, who plays Pinocchio's father Gepetto in the children's show opening Feb. 7 at the North Bend community theatre. The children, a group of Cub Scouts and their families, not only enjoyed the first full dress rehearsal of the show last Tuesday, they also had a few suggestions to improve it.

"This is called an interactive show."
Pinocchio Play for Kids Washington Performance of Pinocchio
Valley Center Stage, North Bend, WA

For instance, several of the children thought both Pinocchio and Alberto should stay out of the "fire" in one of the final scenes, and nearly all of them thought Pinocchio should dance "Gangnam Style" when he first comes to life. Just at the suggestion, a handful of Scouts got up to demonstrate their dance moves from the Korean pop video. 

Director Gary Schwartz, delighted with the reaction, says "It's funny, right?"

Funny is what Schwartz wanted, which is why he invited the Scouts to watch the rehearsal.

The writer "just knows how to write this kind of interaction."
Family entertainment from ArtReach Comedy and Drama for Kids.  Pinocchio
Valley Center Stage, North Bend, WA - Gary Schwartz Director

"This is called an interactive show," he explained to his audience, so the actors will sometimes ask for help from the audience. Since it was also a dress rehearsal, "sometimes we'll stop the show and do something again, and then you can see it again, and that helps tell us what you think is funny."

Almost anything Hickory Cricket (Peter Cook) did was funny, and running, dancing, and snoring all got great responses, but when Alberto was about to send Pinocchio off to school with only a few books in his backpack, one boy in the audience was distressed. "You forgot his lunch!" he shouted to Alberto. "What about his lunch?!"

Unscripted comedy and all, the actors - Ewing, Cook, Lisa and Peter Bryant and their daughter Alex, Courtney Struelens and James Kolke as Pinocchio - loved having a live audience to work with.  "It makes it easier with people, because we get to see what we're doing right," said Struelens, appearing as the puppet Pepperoni, "and (the audience) did such a great job!"

Lisa Bryant, a veteran actor at the theater, likes the contrast between children's shows - she was also in "Jack and the Beanstalk" - and shows for older audiences. "There's a lot of breaking of that 'fourth wall' with a children's show," she said, but it takes "the same amount of focus."

Hard work, too. James Kolke, 11, as the title character, says the weeks of rehearsal so far have been a lot of work, but he knew that going into the auditions, having appeared in several productions of the Valley Center Stage's traditional "A Christmas Carol."

"I (auditioned) because I had the chance to do it," he said. "I just felt like a kid should be Pinocchio, otherwise an adult would have."

The script originally called for an adult Pinocchio. Schwartz praised the writer, Kathryn Schultz Miller, whose scripts he's used in other shows, saying "she just knows how to write this kind of interaction."

After the rehearsal, Schwartz and crew thanked their audience, then took questions and educated them a little about community theatre and production challenges. Asked where the set came from, he explained "We used it two years ago, for 'The Emperor's New Clothes.'" Then gesturing to Ewing, he added "Craig here was walking around in his underwear!"

"Yeah, you missed a good one," Ewing told the laughing crowd.  There's no need to miss this one, though. Pinocchio opens Friday, Feb. 8 and runs for two weekends.

Theatre Review: 'Sleepy Hollow Experience' at Serenbe
Atlanta In Town, In the Loop:  By Manning Harris

Serenbe Playhouse, which thrilled us this summer with their outdoor Woodstockian version of "Hair," has come out of their customary fall hibernation with a delightful theatre piece called "The Sleepy Hollow Experience."  It will run through October 31 at The Stables in Serenbe; it's based, of course, on Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," published in 1820.

That's the good news.  The not so good news, if you'd like to go, is that the theatregoing cognoscenti of Atlanta has made the show a complete sellout-even before the opening night. But there's hope!  Four late night shows have been added:  October 18, 19, 25, 26 at 10:30pm.  The show runs just over an hour, so that's not as late as it might seem.  Be sure to check the theatre website in case there are additional changes.

This unprecedented popularity and confidence in the Playhouse is a tribute to the excellence of their work and also to the vision and expertise of their founder and Artistic Director, Brian Clowdus.  To him and to the whole Serenbe group we offer our congratulations.

"A perfect Halloween entertainment."
Professional Script for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Kathryn Schultz Miller - Serenbe Playhouse, GA

Now on with the show.  Have you heard of the nervous schoolteacher Ichabod Crane (Chris Mayers) and the Headless Horseman?  You're about to meet them, if you go.  The story's quite well known, but I  won't supply the plot; don't want to be a spoiler.  But there's Katrina Van Tassel (Jessica Miesel), the 18-year-old daughter of a wealthy farmer, eminently marriageable.  And there's the town bad boy, Brom Bones (Jacob Cooper), known to have a fondness for playing pranks on the superstitious Ichabod.  Two storytellers, Laura Floyd and Brandon Connor Patrick, not only keep the story moving but usher the audience from place to place.  All the actors look splendid, dressed in period costumes designed by Brittany Quigley.

The story is set in 1790 near the Dutch settlement of Tarrytown, New York, in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow.  It begins upstairs in the stables; heavy mist and fog set in; occasionally an apparition of a woman in white appears, usually accompanied by a shrill scream.

Are you beginning to perceive that "The Sleepy Hollow Experience" is, among other things, a perfect Halloween entertainment?  It is.  There's also charming, original music composed by Jevares C. Myrick and Bobby Johnston and directed by Seth Davis. The show is adapted from Irving's story by Kathryn Schultz Miller.  The entire production is directed by Brian Clowdus.

"Sleepy Hollow" is what we'll call participatory theatre."
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow The Headless Horseman from Sleepy Hollow Firghtening fun play for Halloween
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Kathryn Schultz Miller - Serenbe Playhouse, GA

I haven't emphasized that "Sleepy Hollow" is what we'll call participatory theatre:  There is some audience interaction, but it's not distracting or excessive.  I was quite thrilled to suddenly find myself in private conversation with Brom Bones; I forget what he asked me, but it was great fun.  The show "roams"; it's "situational theatre"; but the whole piece flows smoothly and easily from place to place, from comedy to horror!

At the end the audience is safely corralled in the stables to allow the Headless Horseman (we're talking real horses here) to fly by.  Is he really headless?  Is he as big as Ichabod's imagination pictures him?  You'll have to wait and see.  And talk about authentic ambience-the Serenbe Stables redefines the term.

I haven't said enough about the cast; but they're all superb-from Ms. Floyd's lovely, powerful voice to the quite dashing Brom to the nervous Ichabod to the coquettish Katrina to Mr. Patrick's easy charm.

As I mentioned, the problem is tickets.  If you already have them, rejoice.  If not, check the site.  This year Serenbe has, quite obviously, broken through to the other side, as Jim Morrison would say.

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