FREE RESOURCES: Behind the Scenes [ Page 5 ]
Background info about the stories and themes of ArtReach's plays
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This page (Page #5) has stories and helpful info from behind the scenes of ArtReach productions!  Push back the curtain and check out all these great ArtReach titles: A Thousand Cranes, Winnie-the-Pooh, Jack and the Beanstalk, Christmas Snow White, Cinderella, Mulan, Sleepy Hollow, The Reluctant Dragon, Kid Frankenstein, Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, ArtReach Plays, The Velveteen Rabbit, Pinocchio, Treasure Island.  Don’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contain lots more background articles and info about your play!

ArtReach's 'A Thousand Cranes' brings History and Hope to Adams Middle School
Northwest Independent School District, Fort Worth TX

As theatre students at Adams Middle School put the final touches on their One-Act Play ahead of the upcoming district competition, they are learning much more than theatre skills and are hard at work to fold 1,000 paper cranes.

Adams has chosen to perform A Thousand Cranes for the competition, but it's the connection the students and teachers have made with the show and its true story that make this performance special.

"Middle School put final touches on One-Act Play for district competition."
One Act Play for Drama Competition A Thousand Paper Cranes Play
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Adams Middle School, Fort Worth TX

The show presents the story of Sadako Saski, who was 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on the small city of Hiroshima, where she lived. Sadako, who is 12 years old in the show, learns 10 years after the bomb fell that she has leukemia. She is reminded of the ancient Japanese legend claiming that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes would be granted a lifetime of luck, happiness or one wish. Sadako does not live long enough to complete her task and a friend decides to finish the 1,000 cranes for her.

Today, there is a statue in her honor in Hiroshima Peace Park, and each year children from all over the world send thousands of cranes to be placed at the foot of her statue. 

In the midst of preparing their show, students at Adams have also been folding origami cranes with the goal of creating 1,000 and sending them to Sadako's statue in Hiroshima.

Adams theatre directors Jessica Castle and Kathleen McCann chose A Thousand Cranes not only for the power of its story, but also for its connection to the curriculum that students are learning in middle school.

"The lessons included facts that helped the students connect more with Sadako and the story of the people who were left to rebuild after the war," Mrs. Castle said. "Students calculated how many people died instantly and in the aftermath of the bomb, then compared that to the size of Haslet to reveal more than 150 Haslet's were destroyed from the bomb and its aftermath. 

"Students reflected on the social, psychological and emotional impact."
True Story of Sadako in Hiroshima Paper Cranes for Play for Middle School Students
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Adams Middle School, Fort Worth TX

"Students also reflected on the social, psychological and emotional impact this decision had on the pilots flying the planes that dropped the bombs, the difficult decisions that come with war, and the mental and physical state of those left behind in wartime."

"I haven't really connected to another show as much as I have to this one," said Chloe Schwanenverg, an eighth-grade student who plays Sadako in the play.

"It's very different from other shows that I've done," added Makiya Sharon, another eighth-grade student who performs in the show. "It really hits you to know that you are telling a real-life story. I really like the connection and the history behind it."

That connection the students have to the story is obvious to anyone in the audience, and it's exactly what Mrs. Castle and Mrs. McCann were hoping for when they chose such a poignant show.

 "I really like the connection and the history behind it."
Communitiy folds Paper Cranes Sadako's friends fold cranes for her
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Adams Middle School, Fort Worth TX

"Just the sheer power behind telling someone's story really hooked the kids," Mrs. Castle said. "At first, they were skeptical, but they've been working hard since November, and now everything is coming together and they are really connecting to the story.

"It's been really cool to see the students make that connection. When we took the time to teach them the history behind the show, that was the moment that really made them understand the significance of what we are producing. So tying in the history, for me, has made it really cool to see them buy into it."

The lessons learned are going beyond the group of students involved in the production. Adams social studies and English classes have been able to watch the performance and discuss the history behind it.

The Adams community also enjoyed an evening performance of the show, and parents and community members were able to assist in folding their own origami cranes that will be sent to Hiroshima.

"Something that is timely and powerful for our world now."
Sadako in A Thousand Cranes Playscript Large Cast of A Thousand Cranes Play
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Adams Middle School, Fort Worth TX

"We wanted to choose something that was meaningful to our community and something that is timely and powerful for our world now," Mrs. Castle said. "We wanted to maintain the history, tell the story and invite the community to be a part of it."

Short Background History for 'A Thousand Cranes':

The city of Hiroshima is a port on the island of Honshu in Japan. It was the first city ever to be struck by an atomic bomb.

Hiroshima was founded as a castle town in the 1500s. Beginning in the 1860s it was a military center. On August 6, 1945, in the last days of World War II, the United States dropped the atomic bomb. Much of Hiroshima was destroyed. More than 70,000 people died right away. Radiation left by the bomb killed many more people later on.

Hiroshima was rebuilt after the bombing. It is now a large industrial city. Factories in the city produce steel, automobiles, rubber, chemicals, ships, and machinery.

The place in Hiroshima where the bomb exploded is now a park called Peace Memorial Park. It has a museum and monuments to the dead. The Atomic Bomb Dome is the ruins of one building that was left partially standing after the blast.

Island School students' perform ArtReach's 'Winnie-the-Pooh'
Kaumakani Kauai County Hawaii
BY THE CITIZEN,  Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer

The curtain to the Island School fifth grade students' production rises at 7 p.m. on Friday at the school's Main Hall. There will be a repeat performance of the show, "Winnie-the-Pooh," on Saturday at 7 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 4 p.m.

"The Island School fifth grade students are performing 'Winnie-the-Pooh,'" said Rebecca Hanson, the Island School theatre arts teacher. "It is an Island School tradition to have a fifth grade play each year, and we are so excited to perform this one for audiences this year."

"Perfect for a fun family evening."
Winnie the pooh play for kids Story of Eeyore's tale in play performance
ArtReach's Winnie-the-Pooh - Auburn Area Community Theatre, Auburn AL

Hanson said Katherine Schultz Miller takes the classic Winnie-the-Pooh tales, written by A.A. Milne, and adapts them for the stage.

"This production is a wonderful script for fifth grade actors to perform," Hanson said. "They all get the opportunity to work in collaboration with each other and play these fun, lovable characters that include Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga and Owl."

"Island School starts their theatre arts curriculum in third grade, and it culminates together with a full production open to the Kaua'i community," Hanson said. "For many of our young student actors, this is their first production, and for many, it may be their only production. Each one of these students have some success to celebrate."

"The story lines and tales are a pleasant surprise."
Kids play fun characters in Winnie the Pooh Winnie the pooh fun playscript for kids to perform
ArtReach's Winnie-the-Pooh - Auburn Area Community Theatre, Auburn AL

The characters involved in the Island School fifth grade students' production are familiar to many, and the story lines and tales the characters become involved in is a pleasant surprise for the audience.  Hanson said the production is just about an hour, and perfect for a fun family evening.

Kids' Summer Drama Camp performances of ArtReach's "Jack and the Beanstalk"
Kelci McKendrick | Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. - Carsyn Felix said her character in "Jack and the Beanstalk" just needed a tiara.

The 11-year-old is playing Polly in the production from Gaslight Theatre this weekend, and since the cast gets to choose their own costumes, she went with a sparkly, sequined outfit and crowned herself with a tiara.

"I wanted a tiara, and I feel like Polly just needs it, too," Felix said.  

Jack and the Beanstalk for Summer Drama Camp
Gaslight Theatre Summer Dramam Camp, Enid OK

"Jack and the Beanstalk," by Kathryn Schultz Miller and by special arrangement with ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays, is the final curtain call to the nearly four-week long Kids' Drama Camp, which Gaslight puts on annually each year throughout the month of June.

Performances for the "fee-fi-fo-fun" production are set for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday at Gaslight Theatre, 221 N. Independence.

Tickets are $5 each, and tickets for a live-streamed show of Saturday's 3 p.m. production are available online. Box office hours are 2-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and the theater can be reached at (580) 234-2307.

Half of the 1 o'clock shows are already sold, said Camp Director Catina Sundvall.

This year, 37 elementary-aged kids are enrolled in the camp and involved with the production, going from 8 a.m. to noon every weekday since June 1, Sundvall said.

 "It has a lot of laughter and classic songs."
Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk Songs in Musical Jack and the Beanstalk
Campanile Summer Youth Theatre, Minocqua WI

Day one of the camp started with reading the script and thinking about the sets and costumes for "Jack and the Beanstalk," Sundvalll said, all before it was cast. Auditions came next, and then the work really began to get to the final curtain call.

"We go from the very bare bones of the show to the final performances," said Sundvall, who's in her second year as camp director.

Sundvall said the past few weeks have had some ups and downs, but "mostly just ups and learning."

She said ArtReach's "Jack and the Beanstalk" was chosen because it seemed fun, and it has a lot of laughter and classic songs involved.

Theatres put on summer drama camp each year.
Poster for Summer performances Jack and the Beanstalk Poster for Summer Camp Performances
Campanile Summer Youth Theatre, Minocqua WI

Felix is wrapping up her fifth and last year in the Kids' Drama Camp, saying theater has become one of her biggest passions.

"My first year was really fun," she said. "I just kept coming back, and I really enjoy (theater)."

Kids' Drama Camp helps kids develop social skills and come out of their shells, Sundvall said.

"Several kids - we get to see a transformation," Sundvall said. "They won't talk to anyone the first few days, and then you can't stop them from talking."

This is Eli Corderman's first year with Gaslight. As Strum Along Cassidy - basically a " singing, talking banjo" - in "Jack and the Beanstalk," Corderman, 12, first enters the stage to stall Old Dan Tucker, the giant in the production played by James Harvey, and sings a song.

"My first year was really fun, I just kept coming back."
The cow in kids play Jack and the Beanstalk Jacka nd the magic beans in Jack and the Beanstalk
Campanile Summer Youth Theatre, Minocqua WI

This entrance is one of Corderman's favorite parts of the show.

"It's really cool having my own spotlight," said Corderman, who is a little nervous and a lot excited about the performances. "It's definitely going to be my first time performing in front of large crowds (not at school)."

Corderman wants to be an actor when he grows up, so he got involved with Gaslight to gain some experience. Next year, he plans on going into the Gaslight Teens program, as does Felix.

Shilo Willingham is the projection technician, or "techie" as she calls herself, for "Jack and the Beanstalk" and is in her second year of Kids' Drama Camp.

Willingham, who will enter sixth grade at Kingfisher Middle School in August, said because she had fun doing the technical work and making friends at Gaslight last summer, she decided to come back for a second go-around.

"The first time, I thought there would be one light and it would never go down, and there would be one sound cue every so often," Willingham recalls of her first year. "There is actually a ginormous tech booth, and you have to have a lot of sound cues and lights and all that goof stuff."

"The kids are able to blossom and grow and see different things."
Jack and the Beanstalk Kids Camp Jack and the Beanstalk poster Kids perform ArtReach's Jack and the Beanstalk
Gaslight Theatre, Kids Drama Camp - ArtReach's Jack and the Beanstalk

Sundvall, who is also involved with Gaslight's "Julius Caesar" production for the 27th annual "Shakespeare in the Park" which is also this weekend, said seeing kids like Felix and Willingham come back each year is one of the most rewarding parts of being camp director.

"(Kids' Drama Camp) helps them develop self-confidence and-self awareness," Sundvall said. "They learn how to work together. ... The kids are able to blossom and grow and see different things that they might've not thought about before."

STARS presents 'A Snow White Christmas'
By: Kayne Pyatt, Herald Reporter

EVANSTON - Once again, the STARS Dance & Musical Theatre under the direction of Laurel Higdon and Caddie Welling produced a fun and entertaining evening for an audience that filled the Davis Middle School auditorium on Friday, Dec. 6.

"Seven elves, animal friends, the evil queen, the Prince and even Santa Claus!"
A Snow White Christmas play for kids Musical Christmas play Snow White
Local youth dance during the STARS performance of ArtReach's "A Snow White Christmas."
The group put on the show at Davis Middle School in Evanston on Dec. 6. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

Seventy-four children danced, acted and enthralled the audience with their acrobatic feats in a play titled "A Snow White Christmas," written by Kathryn Schultz Miller. The story was based on the Snow White fairy tale, with seven elves, animal friends, the evil queen, the Prince and Snow White, and even added Santa Claus to the cast.

"We had some of the best talent this year as many of the children have been in our program for several years now and are seasoned performers. This was a really fun show to produce," Welling said.

"Being involved with theater and music from a very young age gives kids an advantage when they are in the higher grades. It helps them get over fear and shyness, build confidence, learn to work together as a team, and all the time they just have fun," Welling said.

Other instructors at STARS include Ashli Johnson, Jenni Hogman and Jaeli Higdon who teach acrobat, ballet, tap and hip hop; ShanDee Welling and Monique McInnis are in charge of cheerleading; Amanda Bounds teaches tumbling and RoShawn Jones is the clogging instructor. Voice instruction is given by Jenni Hogman.

Welling said she is thrilled with the community support for their program. Classes meet once a week at the Aspen Church and they produce two shows a year. They are a nonprofit organization and do fundraising to support the program. They keep the ticket fee for shows at only $5 per person so families can afford to attend.

The spring show will be based on the story of Alice in Wonderland. Anyone interested in joining the STARS classes can call Welling at (307) 679-7369.

 "This was a really fun show to produce!"
ArtReach's "A Snow White Christmas".

"Being involved with theater and music from a very young age gives kids an advantage when they are in the higher grades. It helps them get over fear and shyness, build confidence, learn to work together as a team, and all the time they just have fun," Welling said.

Orland Park Theatre Troupe takes on ArtReach's Cinderella for inaugural summer children's show

So many actors auditioned for Orland Park Theatre Troupe's first all-children production that "Cinderella" is being presented by two full casts.

Blue Cast stages the show on the evening of Aug. 9 and for an Aug. 10 matinee while the Red Cast performs on the evening of Aug. 10 and for an Aug. 11 matinee.

"It's awesome to be involved in a show like this," said Dee Hamilton, director of "Cinderella."

"I've been doing this type of thing with just kids for many decades. You have some amazingly talented younger and older children. Especially with me teaching the village of Orland Park acting classes for almost 20 years, I've seen a lot of these wonderfully talented kids grow up in my classes," she said.

"I felt a real need for the children to really be able to show off their talents. We had over 100 audition and we had to double cast the show because we had so many interesting kids. This is above and beyond anything we anticipated but it's wonderful."

Hamilton, who has been involved in Orland Park Theatre Troupe shows for approximately 15 years, is working with Orland Park Recreation Program supervisor Jean Petrow, the show's executive producer, to stage "Cinderella."

"ArtReach added some really cool characters."
Cinderella play rehearsal
Ashanti Norals (left) portrays Fairy Godmother and Abby Sanford plays the title character in the Blue Cast
of Orland Park Theatre Troupe's "Cinderella." The show, which also features a Red Cast, runs Aug. 9-11 at
Orland Park Cultural Center. (Village of Orland Park) (HANDOUT)

"We got our rights from a place called ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays. What they specialize in is taking a show that all kids know and re-creating it a bit for large casts and young kids," said Hamilton, of Oak Lawn.

"It's the same story. Cinderella can't go to the ball and the Fairy Godmother comes but ArtReach has added some really cool characters. The mice talk. ArtReach added a narrator part and different little parts that give more opportunity for children to have speaking lines.

"I hate kids standing around doing nothing. This production and this version helps us to include them a lot more."

Members of the casts include Lockport, Mokena, Orland Hills and Tinley Park residents and range from ages 7-15.

"The Cinderellas' voices are beyond their years," said Hamilton about Abby Sanford and Tara Mastorakos who portray the title role for the Blue Cast and Red Cast, respectively.

"As popular as this production was this first time out, I think this is something we'll be able to continue. I was impressed by all the talent that came out. The singing and acting is phenomenal. It's a good, wholesome show and a nice family thing for people to come and see.

"It gives all the little girls and boys hope that dreams can come true. That's a cool message."

"Theater makes them feel good about themselves."
ArtReach's Play Cinderella
ArtReach's Cinderella - Athol-Royalston School Theatre, WA

In addition to her work with the village of Orland Park, Hamilton is drama club director for both Beecher High School and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Catholic School in Orland Hills.

"A lot of people don't realize that bringing children into theater makes them feel good about themselves. They gain experience with public speaking. They make a lot of new friends," she said.  "I've had little girls and boys who would sit in the corner and cry. Then they are up on stage and having lines because they're more confident in themselves and their ability. They're enjoying the fact that somebody believes in them.

"I'm all about urging the kids to do whatever they're good at and giving them their opportunity to shine, do what they love and have so much fun."

Learn More About the Real Mulan:  Hua Mulan is a Famous, Historical Figure
Background Info; featuring Photos from Jeugdtheater Crea Deinze's production in Belgium

A historical figure famous for disguising herself as a man is Hua Mulan. Her name has long been synonymous with the word "heroine", yet opinions differ as to whether this is her real name. According to Annals of the Ming, her surname is Zhu, while the Annals of the Qing say it is Wei. Xu Wei offers yet another alternative when, in his play, Mulan Joins the Army for Her Father, he gives her the surname Hua. Others using The Ballad of Mulan as their guide have attributed her surname to be Mu.

"Mulan is well known and has provided much inspiration for poetry."
The Legend of Mulan Mulan play script for kids
ArtReach's The Legend of Mulan - Jeugdtheater Crea Deinze, Belgium

There is also some confusion concerning her place of origin and the era in which she lived. She is said by some to have come from the Wan County in Hebei, others believed she came from the Shangqiu province in Henan and a third opinion is that she was native of the Liang prefecture in Gansu. One thing seems certain though. Hua Mulan was from the region known as the Central Plains. Cheng Dachang of the Song Dynasty recorded that Hua Mulan lived during the Sui and the Tang Dynasties. Song Xiangfeng of the Qing Dynasty asserted that she was of Sui origins (AD 581-618) while Yao Ying, also of the Qing Dynasty, believed she was from the time of the Six Dynasties. No record of her achievements appears in official history books prior to the Song times. Stories circulated in China's Central Plains indicate that she must have lived before the Tang Dynasty.

"History books & legends do at least agree on one thing - her accomplishments."
Script for Legend of Mulan Kids Play Mulan Script
ArtReach's The Legend of Mulan - Jeugdtheater Crea Deinze, Belgium

Both history books and legends do at least agree on one thing - her accomplishments. It is said that Hua Mulan's father received an order to serve in the army. He had fought before but, by this time, was old and infirm. Hua Mulan knew it was out of the question for her father to go and her only brother was much too young. She decided to disguise herself as a man and take her father's place.

The troops fought in many bloody campaigns for several years before they obtained permission to return home. Hua Mulan was summoned to the court by the emperor, who wished to appoint her to high office as a reward for her outstanding service. Hua Mulan declined his offer and accepted a fine horse instead.

Only later, when her former comrades in arms went to visit her, did they learn that she was a woman.

The story of Hua Mulan is well known and has provided much inspiration for poetry, essays, operas and paintings.

“It is amazing what a woman can do if only she ignores what men tell her she can’t.”
-- Carol K. Carr

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Scary story or practical joke?
Washington Irving’s classic story is just a fun, practical joke!

Hollywood and many contemporary storytellers like to link The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to stories like the contemporary Friday the Thirteenth or The Walking Dead, with lots of terrifying ghosts and gory un-headings.  In fact, Washington Irving’s story is about nothing more than a practical joke played by one man upon his rival; an attempt to secure his intended lady’s hand.

Build Your Own Headless Horseman!
The Ride of the Headless Horseman  Small & Large Cast Halloween Plays for Children - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
( Instructions for Headless Horseman Costume in Teacher's Guide )

Katrina is wise to Brom Bones’ joke.  She knows that the hills of Sleepy Hollow are not haunted any more any other place in the new republic.  She enjoys watching as participating as Ichabod Crane is scared into believing in ancient haunts.  He is nothing more than an unwitting participant in her dance of courtship with the brawny Bones.

 Brom Bones, sensing that Katrina’s head is momentarily turned by the "sophisticated” school teacher from Connecticut, attempts to show her what a coward he really is.  Katrina plays along, seeming to be convinced of Ichabod’s superiority, until at last she gets "her man”.

Though Johnny Depp and the producers of the movie, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, want to offer a scary Halloween thrill, Washington Irving’s original story is considerably less bloody.  Irving’s character Brom Bones is successful in scaring his rival Ichabod Crane from the Hollow, securing his pact with the lovely Katrina who happily joins her darling Brom in an enthusiastic trip down the chapel aisle.

What Can Dragons Teach Us About Bullying?
The Reluctant Dragon Takes on the Bullies

Kenneth Grahame’s classic story strikes a chord with contemporary readers because it stirs in us a natural compassion for others.  In The Reluctant Dragon we meet a dragon who is a misfit among mythical beasts – a peaceful soul who just wants to enjoy life with friends.  Similarly, the boy who meets the dragon is misunderstood and longing for excitement.  We cheer at the end because we are pleased to see the underdog triumph.

"Use literature to launch a discussion on bullying."
Train you Dragon Play for Kids! Widget trains his dragon - The Reluctant Dragon!

In ArtReach’s version of The Reluctant Dragon, Widget and Hairytoes are plagued by the neighborhood bullies, the Grody Gobsters.  As members of a group who consider themselves superior to others, the Gobsters have none of Widget’s insecurities or yearnings.  As a result they tease and pester our heroes and even call for the destruction of their beloved dragon.   Though this play is set in a fairytale world with lots of laughs and a satisfying final solution, we know that similar stories in life do not always end so happily.

Have your students read Grahame’s classic short story.  Then read the first in the popular series of books How to Train Your Dragon, which was inspired by the classic.  Have them discuss the similarities and differences in the stories.  How is the theme of bullying used in order to make the story more contemporary?  Then use the discussion of this literature to launch a deeper discussion on bullying in your school.

Mandurah Catholic College, AU - Kid Frankenstein

Primary School Drama productions Kid Frankenstein and Law and Order: Fairytale Unit are well underway, with the students ramping up rehearsals, having their first dress rehearsal this week. The students were abuzz during this week's run-through as they started to see characters coming to life through costume.

"The kids are loving it. It's really a big journey for them."
Kid Frankenstein Play for Young Performers Fun Frankenstein Play for Students!
ArtReach's Kid Frankenstein - Madurah Catholic College, Primary School

Show co-director Mrs Corinna Herbert is really happy with how the productions are shaping up. "Were just finalising blocking of the show. Costumes and set have all arrived and there's a buzz in the air - the kids are loving it. It's really a big journey for the kids - for a lot of them, this is their first time on stage - and they're experiencing what theatre is about and they're realising that it's not just about learning lines. It's that realisation that we start seeing in their faces about now. Watching the friendships and the trust build between them is really lovely as well. To me drama club brings out a different side of learning for the kids. They learn to trust themselves more and they learn to have confidence and conviction when they do something and I think that's such a valuable skill. I've seen very shy kids come into drama club, too scared to say a word, and then they get on stage and they trust themselves and they work as a team - it brings out a whole different side to them. It's really lovely and to me, that's what drama club is all about."

Former student Elizabeth Crook has returned to the College to help out with the productions. "Drama is a passion of mine and I'm getting back into it through this production experience. It's also the love of the College that's brought me back. I was trying to get into something like this, so this experience has come along at a perfect time for me. It's a fantastic outlet."

For Year 10 student Jamie Kilcoyne, this is his fourth show with the College. "It's so much fun - I love it. I got work experience at MPAC because of the experience I got working on College productions. I love it when it finally comes together at the end - that's my favourite part. This time I am again working on lighting, sound and production."

Local girl gains confidence through summer camp
Drama Kids features ArtReach's The Wizard of Oz

KBTX-TV Channel 3, Bryan TX - By Katerina Biancardi

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) 9-year-old Maryanne Hollinger joined Drama Kids of BCS three years ago. She recalls her initial memory with theatre.

"I stuttered every single time I spoke," Maryanne said.

More than 6 million Americans struggle with speech, language, and voice impairments according to the National Institute on Deafness and Communications Disorders.  Maryanne's parents noticed her speech impediment as a young child. Her mother, Kelli, says she had concerns.

"That the confidence was challenged if she was made fun of in the classroom was something we were really aware of," she said.

"When I get up on stage, I can't stop smiling."

Drama Kids of College Station TX produced ArtReach's The Wizard of Oz

Maryanne says her stutter made her shy.

"I didn't really like to be around other people," Marianne said. "But Drama Kids helped me to break out of my shell."

This week, Maryanne stars as Toto and the gatekeeper in the production of Wizard of Oz. Kelli says the camp strengthened what Maryanne learned in speech therapy.

"It reinforces many of the principles she was learning in class as well as give her a fun outlet," Kelli said.

An outlet Maryanne loves.

"When I get up on stage, I can't stop smiling," Maryanne said.

Besides the smiles, Kelli says Maryanne is gaining more than she realizes.

"Those are lifetime skills."
Easy Wizard of Oz script for students
Ankeny Dance & Performing Arts, Polk City IA

"My child has the confidence to go in front of an audience, speak in front of her church, ask questions of adults," Kelli said. "Those are lifetime skills."

Maryanne plans on using those lifetime skills when she grows up. She hopes to be a veterinarian and also a drama class teacher.

Drama Kids of BCS offers summer camps and programs throughout the school year.

Broadway Plays v. ArtReach Plays: What’s the Difference?
Are ArtReach’s plays better than a Broadway Musicals for kids?

Broadway plays are written for professional adult actors who have spent long years studying their craft and have already proven their exceeding talent.  Professional actors have trained to deliver long, difficult speeches and have spent years learning the most advanced vocal and physical moves.  Broadway plays also rely on expensive and state-of-the-art technical stagecraft.  These scripts are usually quite long with elaborate scene changes and an intermission.  Also, since big productions are star vehicles, the spotlight will always linger on the star of the show rather than the team of performers who support the project as a whole.  Though some of your most talented kids may clamor to do the original, is it really the best choice for your school?

Everyone has a Role in ArtReach’s Peter Pan
Peter Pan for a Large Cast of Kids!
Peter Pan -- Shoultes Elementary School, Marysville, WA

ArtReach’s School Plays are written just for kids to perform.  There are no long speeches or difficult scenery requirements.  Peter Pan, for instance, allows up to four kids play the coveted role of Peter Pan so that not one child is the star.  Even better, each and every other role has a distinct name and at least a few lines to give them their big moment to shine.   Special kids and kids in wheelchairs may be cast and given the chance to fit right in with the team of performers.  No one is discouraged, no one dreads rehearsals.  Best of all, you have the right and ability to change the play – write lines, characters, songs – in order to serve your unique group of superstars!

 Ask yourself, do you want to start out with a script that may be too difficult for many kids?  Do you want to encourage only the brightest talents, or do you want to allow everyone to have the most positive experience?   Do you want to bring out the best in each every child in your cast?  Check out any of ArtReach’s School Plays and you’ll soon see the difference.

Theatre is Daydreaming in Motion
Any child can ride a giant crane or become a princess!

Like all artistic expression, theatre is a celebration of life’s experiences.  For children it is even more. It is a reaching for the future, an exploration of what is to come, a lovely excuse to dream about the path that lies ahead.   Any child can ride a giant crane or become a princess, a wizard or a knight in shining armor.  Any child can kick around all the reasons why princesses do what they do; experience all the obstacles and triumphs involved in slaying that pesky dragon.  Navigating through a theatre world is daydreaming in motion.  And it can be a wondrous and nurturing place to grow.

"Place your emphasis on the joy of creation."
Children's plays Plays for Kids to Perform Fun script for school plays

ArtReach Plays offers lots of information and suggestions to enhance the learning experience and many tips on directing.  You can pick and choose what makes the most sense for you and your students.  You know what to do with it – you’re the teacher!

Our children have a long dream ahead of them.  This is the place for them to test their creativity, explore their farthest limits, and to begin to understand the place they will take in the real world.   All the things that might worry you, the things you might think are important – costumes, scenery, learning lines, getting it right, making it "good” – have very little to do with the blossoming that is going on in a young player’s mind.

Every ArtReach school play has been written to take the emphasis off of all that, leaving you to concentrate on what really matters.  It’s the process - that feeling around in the dark - that means the most.   Place your emphasis on the joy of creation.  At every bump in the road choose the path of fun and exploration.  Give your young friends a safe place to "play” and imagine.  Give them roots and wings&ldots; 

And guess what?  I promise you – the play will be better than your wildest dreams!

The Velveteen Rabbit: The Power of Love
What does Margery Williams tell us about love in her wonderful Christmas Classic?

Margery Williams’ beloved classic seems to tell us that love makes us Real.  Since The Velveteen Rabbit longs to be Real and eventually becomes a wild bunny, it’s easy to miss the deeper meaning.

The Boy loves his toy rabbit so much that the toy shows its age and becomes shabby.  But is Williams really talking about how much a Boy loves a toy?

"It's about finding the courage to pursue a happy adulthood."
The Velveteen Rabbit - Christmas Musical for Kids! Classic Story for a Musical Christmas

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

As we age we become shabbier just like the Velveteen Rabbit and his mentor the Skin Horse.  We may suffer a few bumps and scrapes along the way, but sooner or later we go out of doors and find our own path in a wild new world.

Just as Michael (The Boy in ArtReach’s version of The Velveteen Rabbit) recovers from illness and begins to pursue his dreams, so do we all break free of the trappings of childhood and find strength in the past to begin a new future.  Although, Margery Williams’ story will bring a tear to your eye, it is really a very hopeful story about a Boy who is stepping out into his own new world and finding the courage to pursue a happy adulthood.

As the play ends, everyone gathers around the Christmas tree.  Michael realizes that love of family and friends (real and imagined) has carried him through the difficulties of childhood and he is now prepared to face the future.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Students Perform The Velveteen Rabbit
Christmas Musical Velveteen Rabbit Velvetee Rabbit Christmas Musical
Canfield Village Middle School, Canfield OH - Lower Lake High School, CA

Canfield Local School Newsletter:  Fifth and sixth grade students will be performing the original "Toy Story" The Velveteen Rabbit at Canfield Village Middle School. The Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real, is a British children's book written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson. It chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit's desire to become real through the love of his owner.  The curtain goes up in the front gymnasium of Canfield Village Middle School on November 9 & 10, at 7:30 p.m. and November 11, at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets will be sold at the door. Admission is $6 for adults and students. Children under four are free.

'Pinocchio' comes to life: Sutter Street Theatre
Village Life, Sacramento CA

Pinocchio tangles with tricksters, Fox and Cat, and Lampwick and his no-good buddies in the Land of Toys. Will he save Geppetto from the belly of the whale? Will he ever prove that he is good enough to become a real boy?

The story really comes alive, as Lorenzo invites you to see his show at Sutter Street Theatre. The audience helps Pinocchio locate Hickory the Cricket, there's a puppeteer with live puppets, kindly Geppetto, mischievous kids and so much more &ldots; including the whale.

The entire family will enjoy this fun filled version
Pinocchio!  Play for kids Family Theatre Production of Pinocchio
Sutter Street Theatre performs ArtReach's Pinocchio, Folson CA

The play was written by Kathryn Schultz Miller and this production is directed by Mike Jimena.

The entire family will enjoy this fun filled version of a classic tale opening at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25. and continuing at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Nov 30. Tickets are $17 general, $15 seniors and students and $13 children 12 and younger. For groups of 10 or more there is a discount of $2 per ticket. Birthday parties are also available. Purchase tickets online at or call (916) 353-1001. Sutter Street Theatre is located at 717 Sutter Street in historic Folsom.

Lodge School Announces Musical Production, ArtReach's Treasure Island.
ArtReach's play is performed in Malaysia

Lodge Group of Schools is pleased to announce the annual Lodge School Musical Production, "Treasure Island".   Teachers and students involved in this year's production look forward to achieving greater heights in a 3-night performance of this classic tale.

Treasure Island is performed around the world.
Postr for ArtReach's Treasure Island Play Treasure Island play
Posters from Oregon and Vietnam for ArtReach's Treasure Island.

Originally written by Robert Louis Stevenson, "Treasure Island" is a story written for young people who dreamed of adventure on the high seas. This classic book, published in 1883, has endured through the decades as a beloved tale of pirates, ocean voyage and exotic islands.

Lodge School Musical Production, Kathryn Schultz Miller's 2012 theatrical adaptation of this well-loved tale had been chosen. This production follows the fantastical pirate adventure of an ordinary contemporary boy, Jim Hawkins.

Lodge School is proud to have on board Zakaria bin Abdul Manan as the director of this year's musical production. An experienced theatre practitioner, Zakaria is also a triple threat as he has been a stage crew, actor and director in no less than 32 different theatrical productions both within Malaysia and in Indonesia.  This year, we are also pleased to introduce several young talents.

Lodge School has a legacy of being a hub for budding performing arts talents. From the earlier musical productions of "Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat", "Wizard of Oz", "Oliver!" to the biannual "An Evening with the Stars", Lodge students have always enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their otherwise untapped potential in the performing arts.

In Kuching where theatrical performances rarely take place, students and their annual audiences revel in these occasions to sit back and truly appreciate the arts. In addition, Lodge alumni have been inspired to embark upon performing arts careers in London and Singapore respectively.

"I have enjoyed working with these students."
Students perform ArtReach's play Treasure Island
Lodge School Large Cast, Sarawak, Malaysia - ArtReach's Treasure Island.

More importantly, part of the proceeds from this performance is in aid of Hope Place, a local welfare group that visits the poor and less fortunate families to help improve their lives. Kelvin Wan, the founder of Hope Place, had visited the school to raise awareness of the needs of these families. Teachers and students alike have been greatly touched by Wan's efforts to help the needy, and have strove to contribute to help better the Kuching community.

Teacher-in-charge, Ms Sharon Goh, says, "I am extremely proud of Lodge School's musical legacy, and we look forward to another quality Lodge production this year."

Teacher-in-charge, Mr Anthony Wong, says, "The Lodge School musical is a unique effort that encourages teachers and students alike to constantly push the envelope and raise their individual bars. This way, each person realises his or her best potential, and with that, continue to become better individuals."

Director, Mr Zakaria, says, "I have enjoyed working with these students as they have an enormous amount of energy. I have been able to tap onto that energy to produce something very special."

For press queries, please contact:  Poh Sze-Lyn (Ms), Lodge International School, Sarawak Malaysia

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