FREE RESOURCES: Behind the Scenes [ Page 7 ]
Background info about the stories and themes of ArtReach's plays
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This page (Page #7) 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, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, The Reluctant Dragon.  Don’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contain lots more background articles and info about your play!

Family Storytime - ArtReach's A THOUSAND CRANES
Silver Stage Players and Great Basin College (NV) host "A Thousand Cranes Project"

We are partnering with GBC and its project partners to come together this May 1-4 to honor Asian/Pacific American and Pacific Islander communities with multiple free arts and humanities events.

"Honoring Asian/Pacific American communities."
Poster for A Thousand Cranes poster
ArtReach's "A Thousand Cranes" - Silver Stage Players & Great Basin College (NV)

Silver Stage Players and the GBC Theater will present four performances of A Thousand Cranes one-act play based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who develops leukemia after the atomic bomb was dropped in her hometown of Hiroshima and sets out to fold  one thousand paper cranes. Each performance will be followed by a Japanese Taiko drum performance by guest artists from the Reno Taiko Tsurunokai troupe.

In partnership with this event, Mybrary will be offering a family event where we will read a picture book, Sadako's Cranes by Judith Loske, and then after a short demonstration, make paper cranes that will be put on display at GBC. Snacks will be served.

GBC and its project partners honor the month featuring our Asian/Pacific American and Pacific Islander communities. Events include A Thousand Cranes one-act performance, K-12 classroom readings, Japanese taiko drumming, Origami and a panel discussion on the Japanese-American Internment experience. Crane making will happen throughout the community and before each performance; our goal is to create at least one mobile from 2000 Origami cranes. All activities to explore the question, how do you sustain hope in the face of adversity?

"Classroom readings, taiko drumming, Origami & panel discussion."
Theatrical production for japanese classic Sadako and her Paper Cranes A scene from ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes
ArtReach's "A Thousand Cranes" - Silver Stage Players (NV)

The Silver Stage Players, SSP, is committed to creating the most complete, enveloping, poignant, and engaging theater experience possible. SSP strives to offer the freshest, most innovative, challenging, and contemplative theater in the area. The company was founded in the Fall of 1936 in Elko, Nevada. Over its eighty-four year history, SSP has produced hundreds of productions, many of which were firsts for northeastern Nevada and the company continues to produce unique and inspiring drama today.

An organization who challenges the norm and thrives on innovation, SSP presents a mixture of original, radio, comedic, contemporary, and classic audio, musical and dramatic theater events every year. With its performance roots in radio, stage, film, and television acting, SSP's actors are among the finest the area has to offer. SSP members run the gamut of actors, musicians, Foley artists, engineers, writers, directors, singers, dancers, designers and producers. Members also provide educational opportunities for the community in areas of the arts including; acting, directing, dramaturgy, stage-management, children's theater, singing, stagecraft, dancing, construction and special effects make-up design. Shows proposed and performed include: serials, dinner theater, musicals, special performances, comedy, drama, audio and radio theater, live radio theater and anything else under the Sun!

"How do you sustain hope in the face of adversity?"
Masks in ArtReach's A Thousnad Cranes Set for theatre production of ArtReach's Sadako Play
ArtReach's "A Thousand Cranes" - Silver Stage Players (NV)

SSP is truly a community theater group. The company has always made a point to better our city through community service.

The A Thousand Cranes Project is a collaboration with GBC Theater, Silver Stage Players, HC@gbc, Reno Taiko Tsurunokai, GBC-PTK, GBC Childcare Center, GBA Student Government Association, GBC Elementary and Secondary Education, Elko County MyBrary, K-12 students and teachers. This event is made possible with support from Nevada Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Great Basin College, Nevada Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"A workshop to create our own "A Thousand Cranes" mobile."
Folding paper cranes Artwork for A Thousand Cranes Paper cranes workshop for A Thousand Cranes
ArtReach's "A Thousand Cranes" - Silver Stage Players & Great Basin College (NV)

The Northeastern Nevada Museum hosted Nevada Outdoor School and GBC Humanities for "Second Saturday." 

"A Thousand Cranes" celebration comes to GBC Elko Campus May 2-4.  Find a list of activities and events at  Find a paper crane making workshop to help create our own "A Thousand Cranes," mobile.

ArtReach's Beauty and the Beast takes the stage in Baker City, OR
By Lisa Britton Go! Magazine, La Grande, OR

BAKER CITY - With a roar of rage, the curse takes hold of the handsome prince and his only hope is love.

But will anyone see past the gruff appearance to understand his heart?

"A prince with a handsome face and a heart of stone."
French Villagers in Beauty and the Beast Kids perform Beauty and the Beast
ArtReach's Beauty and the Beast - Eastern Oregon Regional Theatre, Baker City OR

Eastern Oregon Regional Theatre will present a youth production of "Beauty and the Beast" Sept. 8-10 and Sept. 15-17.

Shows are at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday, at the theater, 2101 Main St. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 EORT members and $5 students. Purchase tickets at, by calling 541-523-9652, or at the door.

This play is based on the original French story, rather than the Disney version that presents the castle's servants as objects (a clock, a candlestick, a teapot).

"All of the characters are human," said director Jamie Adams.

"The audience gets to use their imagination."
The Wolves in Beauty and the Beast play for kids
ArtReach's Beauty and the Beast - EORT, Baker City OR

In this story, only the prince suffers from the curse, cast on him by a beggar after he refused to offer help.

"In this castle there lives a prince with a handsome face and a heart of stone," the narrator begins the story.

After casting the curse, the beggar leaves the beast with this:  "You wear the mask that is your heart. Only love can save you now."

The set is simple, with the actors sitting in a semi-circle on the stage as they tell this well-known story.  "The concept is getting the audience to use their imagination," Adams said. "The actors do all the sound effects using instruments and their voices."

The cast features Justin Wolfe, Candace Peterson, Jordan Wolfe, Marquesa Peterson, Grace Radabah, Ainsley Schuette, Riley Schuette, Obsidian Adams, Jace Carroll, Cody Carroll, Hazel Crowell, Avery Ellis, Finley Ellis, Kate Loennig, Aislynn Cook, Zoey Arritola, Allana Haven, Casey Walden, Amelia Walden, Dinah Walden, Regina Luna and Thonee Chandler.

Central Missouri Repertory to Present Children's Touring Production 'Robin Hood'
By Jeff Murphy

WARRENSBURG, MO - Entering its 39th season of bringing live children's theatre productions to West Central Missouri, University of Central Missouri (UCM) Repertory Theatre (CMR) will present "Robin Hood" by Kathryn Schultz Miller (ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays) at numerous locations throughout this region in late May and early June. This includes a free, public performance in Warrensburg at the Highlander Theatre on the UCM campus at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28, as well as performances at venues in Clinton, Lee's Summit, Richmond, Rocky Mount, and Sedalia as part of a touring schedule that begins May 25 and ends June 8.

"This play is so entertaining - it's really written well."
Robin Hood on Tour ArtReach's play for kids Robin Hood
University of Central Missouri (UCM) Repertory Theatre (CMR) - ArtReach's Robin Hood

A production for all ages and great family entertainment, "Robin Hood" is directed by Dr. Aaron Scully, assistant professor of theatre in the Division of Theatre and Dance at UCM. This play is a rollicking, hilarious and fast-paced children's version of the classic tale of "Robin Hood."  Robin and his band of merry men are stealing from the rich to give to the poor when Robin finds out the Sheriff of Nottingham has locked his one true love, Maid Marian, in the dreaded tower. Robin then sets out to save Maid Marian, and along the way meets a slew of interesting characters, including his best friend, the giant Little John. The audience will follow Robin Hood's journey as he teams with good and battles evil on his quest for love.

When asked about the production, Scully stated, "This play is so entertaining - it's really written well - it moves really fast, with lots of good jokes, physical comedy and audience interaction. We are having a great time in rehearsals. The characters are familiar but each have specific personalities so the actors are having a blast exploring (the characters). Kids and parents alike will really enjoy this production - it'll be a great way to kick off the summer!"

"Rollicking, hilarious and fast-paced." Perfect for Touring.
Truck for Touring to Schools Theatre Dept for Touring to Schools
University of Central Missouri (UCM) Repertory Theatre (CMR) - ArtReach's Robin Hood

"Robin Hood" will be on tour presenting public performances at several sites within an easy drive from Warrensburg as follows: May 25, the Farris Theatre in Richmond - free admission (performance at 10 a.m.); May 26, the Thompson Theatre at Hayden Liberty Center in Sedalia - $5 admission (performance at 2 p.m.); May 28, Highlander Theatre on the UCM campus in Warrensburg - free admission (performance at 2 p.m.); May 31, Legacy Park Amphitheatre in Lee's Summit - free admission (performances at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.); June 1, Camp Wonderland, Rocky Mount - free admission (performance at 10:30 a.m.);  June 2, Lexington Middle School - free admission (performance at 10:30 a.m.); and June 8, Henry Elementary School in Clinton - free admission (performance at 1 p.m.). For more information about specific performances, please contact Dr. Scully at [email protected].

The show is family-friendly and for all ages.
Young Audience enjoying Robin Hood Robin Hood script for Young Audiences
University of Central Missouri (UCM) Repertory Theatre (CMR) - ArtReach's Robin Hood

The company includes: Riley Given as Robin Hood/Beggar/Jester, Shanna Sinow as Maid Marian/Friar Tuck and Jace Nielsen as Little John/Prince/Monk/King Richard/Guard. Dr. Scully is the Director/Production Manager/Producer/Marketing Director; Grace Clark is Stage Manager; Dalima Kapten is the Scenic/Props Designer/Technical Director, Hollie Neumann is the Costume/Hair/Makeup Designer, and Jamie Gresens is the Sound Designer.

 The performance is made possible by a generous donation from the Wetzel Family Foundation, a grant from the Missouri Arts Council, and UCM Theatre and Dance. Special thanks to UCM Theatre and Dance Chair Ashley Miller-Scully for her support.

The show is family-friendly and for all ages. The production includes some fight sequences. An optional opportunity for audience interaction and/or participation is available. For more information, please contact Dr. Aaron Scully at [email protected] or call the UCM Theatre and Dance office at 660-543-4020.

Shell Knob School Drama Club performs ArtReach's 'The Wizard of Oz'
Barry County Advertiser - Cassville, MO

Each year, the Shell Knob School Drama Club chooses a play to perform for the school and community. This year's play was "The Wizard of Oz" by ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays.  For over a hundred years, this story has delighted adults and children alike. The play was a blend of the book by Frank L. Baum and movie. Students that are involved in drama are fifth through eighth grade students.                  

Students spent many afternoons practicing their lines and learning stage movements. They also spent their own time to memorize lines. Students not only perform, they also work backstage and develop backgrounds and props.

"Students are fifth through eighth graders."
Middle School kids perform Wizard of Oz
Shell Knob School Drama Club performs ArtReach's "The Wizard of Oz".

Two performances were held on Thursday, December 13. Students, staff, teachers, parents, family members and relatives had the pleasure of watching the students act out a humorous interpretation of the movie and book. The cast included 20 hardworking middle school students. Several students had more than one roll to perform.

The cast and crew are as follows: Dorothy performed by Rileigh Rickard, ToTo performed by Lorelei Cook, Uncle Henry performed by Madelyn Holtmann, Aunt Em performed by Addison Sherfy, who also played the Good Witch Glinda, Scarecrow performed by Carly Anderson, the Tin Man performed by Mason Graham, the Lion performed by Raigan Crumb, the Gatekeeper performed by Kylie Martin, the Wizard of Oz performed by Aaliyah Franklin, The Wicked Witch of the West performed by Amber Hayes, The Munchkins, Trees, and Flying Monkeys were performed by Marissa Cates, Nicole McCallister, and Brooke Langley.

"Relatives had the pleasure of watching the students act out."
Cast of Wizard of Oz
Shell Knob School Drama Club performs ArtReach's "The Wizard of Oz".

The Rainbow Chorus who narrated the story were blue: Raegan Caddell, green: Zaira Systo, orange: Emma Pryor, purple: Sydney Talsma, red: Randa Johnson, and yellow: Lily Anderson.

Backstage, makeup, lights, sound and curtains were: Merri Magula, Lisa Sherfy, Phillip Mason, Madelyn Holtmann and Kellen Anderson. Many props and background materials were produced by the middle school exploratory stagecraft class. While pictures and video were taken by the middle school journalism/photography class.

KGS Production of Peter Pan Receives 15 NODA Nominations!
ArtReach's Peter Pan Receives Recognition for Excellence

Kirkham Grammar School (Lancashire, UK) is delighted to announce that we have received 15 NODA nominations for our November production of Peter Pan!

"This is an excellent achievement!"
UK Kirkham School Peter Pan ArtReach's Peter Pan
ArtReach's Peter Pan - Kirkham Grammar School (Lancashire, UK)

This is an excellent achievement and is testament for all the hard work which went into making this year's production such a phenomenal success.

The nominations are as follows;

Best Female Comedy Performance in a Youth Production: Tabitha Berry (Tinkerbell)

Best Supporting Male in a Youth Production: Raphael Ikram (John), Manny Elleray (Michael) and Isaac Chip (Tattoo Bill)

Best Supporting Female in a Youth Production: Tabitha Berry (Tinkerbell), Louisa Seacy (Tiger Lily) and Dotty Hackett (Mother)

Best Staging of a Youth Production

Best Leading Male in a Youth Production: Shahmeer Amir (Smee) and Tyler Cowie (Captain Hook)

Best Leading Female in a Youth Production: Olivia Coupe (Peter Pan) and Brooke Medhurst (Wendy)

Best Choreographer of a Youth Production: The Mermaids

Best Director of a Youth Production: Miss Leeming

"Best Youth Drama"
Awards for Excellent Peter Pan School Play Excellence recognition for Peter Pan Play
ArtReach's Peter Pan - Kirkham Grammar School (Lancashire, UK)

Congratulations to you all and good luck at the awards evening which takes place on Saturday 4 February 2023.

Circle of Excellence is a recognition program established by the NODA Excellence Fund in 2018. This program recognizes individuals who have served as professionals, teachers, leaders, and scholars in the fields of orientation, transition, and retention in higher education.

Notes:  The piece was directed by Miss Leeming and the students had their input into the production themselves, most notably the dance chorus who played the mermaids, more on this to follow. Miss Leeming did an exceptional job at telling this narrative and combining different theatre styles and techniques together to separate the fantasy versus reality elements of the production, to bring the fairytale to life. The set was epic and consistently detailed, using the full stage and all the available apron space marked out on the gym floor. Staging was used to its maximum potential, with a bedroom and full ship being constructed on stage for the home scene and the pirates, a truck mimicking rocks emerging from the sea for the mermaids and huts and other areas of staging transporting the action to other locations to facilitate the plot. Staging was also used creatively keeping interesting uses of levels and shapes to keep the piece visually stimulating for audiences of all ages. Costumes were fabulous and depicting the classic characters well and adding great context to the piece, also most performers had some form of make-up painted on to add further detail to the design, such as dirt marks on the Lost Boy's faces and green shimmer for the mermaids. I also need to call out the 12-foot, three person operated crocodile, which swam menacingly throughout the performance to add dread and fear to Captain Hook!

"All members of the cast did a wonderful job!"
Exceelent Cast of young performers in Peter Pan Bravo for Peter Pan
ArtReach's Peter Pan - Kirkham Grammar School (Lancashire, UK)

The cast included 83 pupils from all years of the School and Sixth Form, so to call out everyone would be laborious so I am choosing to summarise with all members of the cast did a wonderful job at creating a wonderful evening of entertainment and should be thoroughly proud of their work and performances, there was not a moment that a player was onstage and out of character or unsure of what they were doing. It is not easy to seamlessly jump between theatre styles and integrate dance and music into a play version of a production, you all did fantastically to achieve this and there was great focus and attention throughout the performance and some lovely characterisations brought about to the stage!   Bravo!

The Ancient Story Aladdin As Told in ArtReach's Playscript
Featuring Special Production by: Let Your Light Shine Youth Theatre, Columbia MO

ArtReach’s adaptation of Aladdin presents the classic story of one young man’s quest to win the hand of his beautiful Princess. Through his daring and clever deeds Aladdin defeats evil and brings goodness and peace to his kingdom.

The Storytellers begin their tale in the sizzling hot sands of the desert. Just as the sun sets Omar the Magician and his assistant, Geewiz, come riding over the dunes, searching for the lost Cave of Wonders. The Storytellers create the Cave and tell Omar that there is only one person who may enter it. That person is Aladdin. Omar sends Geewiz to fetch the boy.

We are transported to the street market where Princess Ginger examines the silks, carpets and incense that are sold there. When she bites an apple the fruit peddler demands cash. Ginger has no gold and just as the merchants declare her a thief, Aladdin and Persia his cat sweep in to help her. Geewiz spies the scene and offers to pay for the fruit, but only if Aladdin will go with him to the desert. Ginger begs Aladdin not to go but Aladdin insists he must pay his debt.

"There is only one person who may enter the cave."
Aladdin performed by kids Aladdin play poster Aladdin play for kids to perform
Let Your Light Shine Youth Theatre, Columbia MO -  ArtReach's Aladdin

In the desert the Magician sends Aladdin into the cave to find a special lamp and bring it back to him. Aladdin cries “Open Sesame!” and the wondrous cave opens its doors. Inside Aladdin and Persia find golden statues and diamonds and at last they find the lamp. It looks so ordinary to Aladdin that he is afraid the magician will not like it. When he polishes the lamp, suddenly a great Genie appears before him!

The Genie explains that Aladdin is now his master and he will grant him three wishes. Aladdin is overjoyed and proclaims he has no wish but to be wed to Ginger. The Genie conjures a magic carpet and whisks Aladdin and Persia off to the Sultan’s palace. At the palace the Sultan presents Ginger with several princes that she might choose for marriage. One by one they come forward trying to impress her.

At last Omar comes forward offering himself as a suitable husband. When Ginger tells her father she will not marry any of them, the Sultan leaves her locked up in her room until she changes her mind.

Aladdin, with his friends Persia and Genie, appear before her. Aladdin declares his love to her and offers to take her on a magic carpet ride. The Storytellers create the carpet as Aladdin and Ginger fly and exclaim at the wonders in the sky. When at last Ginger must return to the palace, Aladdin decides to ask the Sultan for her hand in marriage. But Aladdin’s words are overheard by Omar and Geewiz. Omar sends Geewiz to capture Aladdin and throw him into the deep dark sea.

"The Genie appears and saves Aladdin’s life."
Humor in Artreach's Aladdin Aladdin and the Magic Lamp
Let Your Light Shine Youth Theatre, Columbia MO -  ArtReach's Aladdin

In the ocean Aladdin is tied up and covered in a large net, drowning, when a family of fish swims by. They teach him how to breathe through his ears and help him polish his lamp. Suddenly the Genie appears and saves Aladdin’s life.

Meanwhile Omar has cast a spell over the Sultan causing the old man to force Ginger to accept Omar as her husband. Suddenly Aladdin appears! He demands that Omar turn over the magic staff that controls the spell on the Sultan. The magician cleverly offers to exchange his staff for the lamp. Believing that this will save Ginger, Aladdin gives up the lamp.

When Omar polishes the lamp, the Genie appears as before. But sadly, Omar is now his master. On orders from the magician, Genie takes Aladdin to be imprisoned in the dungeon. Just when it seems all is lost, Geewiz betrays the Magician and brings the magic lamp to Aladdin.

Back at the palace, Omar has assembled all the peddlers from the market, planning his elaborate wedding to Ginger. Believing Aladdin is drowned and the Genie in his lamp, Omar is shocked when Aladdin, Persia and the Genie appear before him. Persia sneaks up and steals the magician’s staff and begins a great game of keepaway with the staff, getting everyone (even the audience!) in on the action. When the Sultan catches the staff, he decides to throw it to Aladdin.

"Everyone in the kingdom rejoices."
Aladdin Large Cast Play for Kids
Let Your Light Shine Youth Theatre, Columbia MO -  ArtReach's Aladdin

Aladdin and Genie convince Omar that he will have all the power he wants if he becomes a Genie. The Magician is delirious with the prospect of such power and agrees to go into Genie’s lamp. Aladdin instructs Geewiz to throw the lamp in the ocean.

Aladdin releases the Genie granting him his freedom and everyone waves goodbye as the Genie flies away on his magic carpet. The Sultan is fully recovered from his spell and proclaims that the laws be changed so that everyone can marry the ones they love. Aladdin and Ginger are wed and everyone in the kingdom rejoices.

Aquatic Art makes a splash at Summer Arts Camp - West Union Elementary
ArtReach's The Little Mermaid Featured
By Austin Rust - Champion Media - West Union Ohio

The Adams County Arts Council hosted its seventh annual J.R. Bradley Summer Arts Camp this year at the West Union Elementary School from July 15 -19. Forty one young artists participated in the Arts Camp program this year, which offered classes in silk-screening, music and drama, sculpture, drawing, and painting. The theme selected for 2019 was "Aquatic Art".

According to the current president of the Adams County Arts Council, Betsy Miskell, the first Summer Arts Camp was held in 2013 under the direction of J.R. Bradley. The classes offered were woodworking, acting, and painting, and there were 18 participants.

Arts Camp features Musical Drama The Little Mermaid
Kids rehearsing The Little Mermaid Costumes for The Little Mermiad Play
Shooting Starz Productions, Big Lake MN - ArtReach's The Little Mermaid

"We've just been thrilled with how it's grown through the years, and hopefully it will continue to grow, so that we can offer more media areas," said Elaine Lafferty, who has served as the Camp Director and Art Appreciation Instructor for the past six years.

Classes were held from 9 a.m.- noon each morning at no charge to the students. Each day of the camp ended with a presentation focusing on one of the five subjects taught this year. Students in music and drama stayed into the afternoon to rehearse for their play, which was an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's classic tale "The Little Mermaid" by Kathryn Shultz Miller.

Lee Wilson was their instructor, and the director of music and drama.

"The primary goal of the camp is to promote the arts."
Summer Arts Camp with theatre Performance Little Mermaid Kids in Fun Play, The Little Mermaid Arts Camp features children's play
Shooting Starz Productions, Big Lake MN - ArtReach's The Little Mermaid

Students in painting this year were Ryleigh Allen, Bella Basford, Emily Caudill, Lily Howard, Eli King, Matthew King, and Kensely Matthias. Darcy Smith was their instructor.

Students in drawing were Anna Armstrong, Colton Arnett, Jaden Ray Caudill, Lucy Gabbert, Jayden Grant, Kendall Hitchcock, Jackie Myers, Erin Stansberry, and Maya Warren. Patricia Thompson was their instructor.

Students in sculpture were Addison Ayres, Leah Caldwell, Trinity Covert-Rhoten, Ryker Fain, Ava Kingsley, Mia Kingsley, Elijah Moles, Rodney Moles, and Megan Reid. Jessica Huxmann was their instructor.  In silk-screening, there was one student: Chesnee Ayres. Sue Rose was her instructor.  Arts camp assistants this year were Cassandra King, Miranda Moles, and Julie Warren.

According to Ken Armstrong, a member of the Adams County Arts Council, the primary goal of the Summer Arts Camp is to promote the arts. He also hopes that the students who choose to participate in the music and drama class theater productions will go on to perform in Adams County Arts Council productions as they grow older, or participate in Children's Theater.

"They were very busy this year," Armstrong concluded. "My niece was teaching the painting, and she would come home every evening and say, 'We've got to think of more things to keep them busy!' They would rip right through what she planned for the next day, even."

"Enthusiasm for the arts remains strong and continues to grow."
Large Cast of Play The Little Mermaid Musical The Little Mermaid for Kids
Shooting Starz Productions, Big Lake MN - ArtReach's The Little Mermaid

On Friday, the final day of the camp, all of the students' work was put on display in the various stations around the room. Drawings of tropical fish and other characters hung from the walls in the drawing section, and in sculpture, the students chose to make a diorama of aquatic life. Colorful designs for t-shirts and tote bags decorated the silk-screening section, while deep blues and greens lined the walls of the painting station, accented by rainbow-colored seashells.

After a brief introduction, the music and drama class took the stage with their performance of "The Little Mermaid", retelling the tale of a mermaid in love with a human prince.

Enthusiasm for the Summer Arts Camp remains strong in Adams County, and continues to grow. The camp is set to return next year with a new theme, and hopes to offer classes in new media.

Final Bow, A Great Teacher and and Director Retires
Thomas Beck has produced many ArtReach plays over the years

by Ann Marie Scheidler, Forest Bluff Magazine IL
Susie and Tom Beck, Founders of PASTA summer camp

IF YOU'RE A LOCAL who has had a child in the last 20 years, you've likely been lucky enough to cross paths with Tom and Susie Beck, the duo behind a childhood favorite-PASTA- the Performing Arts Summer Theatre Academy at Gorton Community Center. PASTA has evolved over time to offer programming year-round and has become a favorite among the t'ween and teen set who've dreamed about being on stage. This summer, at the close of PASTA's final performance of Alice in Wonderland on Sunday, July 10, the Becks will officially retire.

"PASTA has has become a favorite among t'weens and teens."
Kids Rehearse play script Children rehearse ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland
PASTA kids rehearsing ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland

"It's time," says Tom in his quiet way, a tone that has been undoubtedly shaped by his decades of working with children, having gotten his start at Lake Bluff Elementary School. "We love this program and working with the kids, but it's time for a new adventure."

The Becks established themselves as an extracurricular juggernaut for parents. Typically, after a child had a taste of being in a Beck production, they returned season after season for a chance to perform. The Becks made Jungle Book, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Wizard of Oz, Lion King, Seussical, and many, many other shows classics among the young theater set.

"We often remember the kids by the characters they played," Tom says. "Auditioning is so personal and I admire the kids who try out for specific roles. You don't audition without hopes of getting something you want."

"We love this program and working with the kids."
Alice in wonderland play for kids Alice in Wonderland Script for Kids to Perform
PASTA kids performing ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland

Such care goes into each performance, from casting, to set creation, to costuming, to choreography, and to overseeing the interns who are always graduates of the PASTA program. All of this was done by the Becks.

"Tom and I talk a lot, a lot about each show," Susie says. "There's very little stress unless I tell him how to build a set or he tells me how to make a costume. I have this ability to see an entire show in a line, where Tom sees it in little pieces. We really work very well together."

Tom adds that the two of them are best at casting the show. "We absolutely do this together," he says. "We each make a list of who we should think should have each part, we compare notes, and then we sleep on it. Sometimes, Susie will get up in the middle of the night to make some changes, but we always agree on who is doing what before we tell the kids. It just works."

Over the years, PASTA has taught many life lessons in addition to theater skills. One summer, there was a computer glitch and when PASTA reached its maximum number of students, it failed to shut off.

"We absolutely do this together - it just works."
Performing Arts Program Alice in Wonderland Kids Perform Alice in Wonderland Play
PASTA kids performing ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland

"We ended up with 62 kids that summer for the Wizard of Oz," Tom says, explaining 40 students is usually the sweet spot for the number of campers. "On the first day of camp, I asked for a show of hands how many kids wanted to be Dorothy. Every girl and a handful of smart-aleck boys-who I got along with very well by the way-raised their hands. That's when we had to have the talk that not everyone can be Dorothy and there's a lot that goes into choosing the right person for the right show. We always want the kids to understand what goes into making that decision."

The Becks begin planning for their programs a year in advance. And last year, after navigating PASTA through Covid protocols, they knew that this year would be their last.

"I started going through our storage locker last summer knowing that we would never be doing certain shows again," says Susie. Susie, a retired art teacher from the Glenbrook School system, is looking forward to getting back in the classroom as a student.

As for Tom, he is hoping to find himself doing more theater himself, as well as coaching future thespians. And both are looking forward to pursuing some of these dreams from a new home they purchased in Arizona.

"But we know this program will be back in some form, some day."
Large Cast Play Alice in Wonderland Popular Acting Program PASTA
PASTA kids - ArtReach's Alice in Wonderland

The Becks will close out their time at Gorton in the same way it began-with the musical production of Alice in Wonderland. They hope many of their alums will pack the house.

"This is an exciting time as PASTA retires with us," Tom says. "But we know this program will be back in some form, some day. Susie and I look forward to being in the audience."

The Gorton Drama Studio is currently offering camps and classes in acting at Gorton. To learn more, sign up for remaining spots in PASTA, or purchase tickets to PASTA's final shows, visit

GCA’s Playmakers is Back with ArtReach's Winnie-The-Pooh this Weekend
Features ArtReach's Newest Large Cast Play

The Garfield Center for the Arts’ Playmakers has returned! The GCA’s annual summer youth education camp for children ages 8-15 has a long and successful history of teaching skills in theatre craft and performance. The camp had been suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic but has finally returned after its hiatus. This summer’s Playmakers will present “The Adventures of Winnie-The-Pooh” this weekend, starting at 7 PM on Friday and Saturday.

"Camp has long & successful history of teaching skills."
Summer Camp features ArtReach's Winnie-the-Pooh.
Garfield Center for the Arts’ Playmakers prepare for ArtReach's Winnie-the-Pooh

The camp divided participants into two age groups, ages 8 to 11 and ages 12 to 15, for age-specific activities. The remaining camp time was spent with all participants working together to produce and perform their “Winnie-the-Pooh” production. Campers have also enjoyed the performances of professional cultural artists, presented by The Hedgelawn Foundation, on select camp days, including historical instrumentalist Stephen Christoff, storyteller Debra Mims, and dancer, drummer, singer and storyteller Ssuun.

Leading Playmakers has been its Director Amanda Mickle and Assistant Director Patrick Pearce. Originally from Smyrna Delaware, Amanda spent 13 years with The School of Delaware Ballet and Delaware Ballet where she danced in various supporting and lead roles in multiple productions, including “The Nutcracker” for seven years. Amanda attended Washington College, where she studied English and Education. Currently, she is the 7th and 8th grade Language Arts teacher at Kent School where she has directed and choreographed the 8th Grade Musical for two years with last year’s “Frozen Jr.” and this year’s “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” Patrick recently appeared in the Garfield Center’s hit production of “The Play That Goes Wrong.” Last year, he appeared in “Clue” and Short Attention Span Theatre. Patrick received his BA in Drama from Washington College in 2000 and now teaches US History at the Kent School in Chestertown.

Winnie-the-Pooh play for young performers

This year’s Playmakers campers are Lizzy Assante, Lillian Babylon, Bailey Bortz, Sydney Bortz, Olivia Coppage, Ben Gilbert, Giosue Greenwell, Sam Holdgreve, Madelyn Hopwood, Emy Karlik, Clover King, Maggie Lindsay, Ava Potter, Mallory Reed, Natalie Ritchie, Will Ritchie, Amelia Ritchie, Lia Schut, Masun Sullivan, Stella Sullivan, Alex Wilson, and Vivian Young. Playmakers has had a terrific staff of counselors and interns this summer, including Allison Holdgreve, Devin Merton, Josie Merton, Clare Padula, Eva Veciana and Kendall Willis.

The performances are free to the public, but donations made at the performances toward production costs and next year’s Playmakers camp is encouraged and appreciated. Lobby doors open one hour prior to show time and the House doors open for general seating starting one half hour prior to show time. No advance reserved seating is allowed.

Musical production ArtReach's 'Treasure Island' to be presented from April 25-27
Borneo Post Online

KUCHING, Malaysia: Lodge Group of Schools will be presenting the 2014 Lodge School musical production, 'Treasure Island', at Batu Lintang Teachers Training Institute's Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce Auditorium from April 25 to 27.

Following the success of the school's last musical production, 'Oliver!', in 2012, this year's production will see students and teachers from Lodge National School and Lodge International School involved in the re-enactment of the classical tale originally written by Robert Louis Stevenson for young people who dreamed of adventure on the high seas.

"For the school's production, we have chosen Kathryn Schultz Miller's theatrical adaptation of this well-loved story, which follows the fantastical pirate adventure of an ordinary contemporary boy, Jim Hawkins," Lodge International School teacher Poh Sze-Lyn told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah at her office here yesterday.

"Students revel in these occasions to truly appreciate the arts."
Presentation on ARtReach's play Treasure Island Treasure Island play for kids
Picture: Poh giving a short presentation on Lodge School's upcoming production of ArtReach's 'Treasure Island'.

Joining her was Lodge Group of Schools director Rijeng Jahet.

"This year, we are proud to have on board experienced theatre practitioner Zakaria Abdul Manan as the director for 'Treasure Island'," Poh revealed, adding that Zakaria has experience as a stage crew, actor and director in more than 30 different theatrical productions in Malaysia and Indonesia.

"We are also pleased to introduce our young talents Darence Ki who will be playing the titular role of Jim Hawkins, Torrance Chen as Long John Silver, Sheena Lee as Captain Smolett, Rosalynn Mutheardy as Squire Trelawny, Emily Gumal as Dr Livesy and Emma Masing as Billy Bones."

Poh pointed out that Lodge School has a legacy of being a hub for budding performing arts talents.

"From our earlier musical productions of 'Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat', 'Wizard of Oz' and Oliver!  to the biannual 'An Evening with the Stars', Lodge students have always enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their otherwise untapped potential in 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," she remarked.

She also noted that this has also led to Lodge alumni to embark upon performing arts careers in London, New York and Singapore respectively.

Tickets priced at RM50, RM75 and RM100 for 'Treasure Island' are now on sale with part of the proceeds going to local welfare organisation Hope Place.

For tickets or further enquiries, the public are advised to call Lodge National School at 082-363554 or Lodge International School at 082-362185.

PERSATUAN SEKOLAH LODGE  (Lodge School Association), Kuching, Malaysia.

Students gear up for holiday classic, ArtReach's A Christmas Carol
Okotoks Western Wheel Staff

Longview School students are getting into the holiday spirit with their upcoming production of a Christmas classic.

The school is gearing up to perform an adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" Thursday evening (Dec. 22). This version by Kathryn Schultz Miller follows the traditional story, but features storytellers, narrators and carols throughout. Longview principal Caroline Roberts said this adaptation is easier for children to perform.

All 74 students will perform in the play and each student in Grades 1 to 6 will have a speaking part. As with all the school's productions, students also share roles.

"Everyone has an opportunity to have a speaking part."
Children perform Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol Christmas Carol Classic for Kids
Wakefield Country Day, Flint Hill VA - ArtReach's A Christmas Carol

"What's really important to us is that everyone has an opportunity to have a speaking part and to be involved and engaged in that activity," explained Roberts.  Students perform musical numbers and create the sets, she said.  "We have a really strong fine arts program here at Longview and the kids very much enjoy it and so does our community."

Students were able to pick their roles in the play and Roberts said surprisingly it worked out well.  Grade 6 student Ashley Nelson decided to play Scrooge because she liked the character and said it is fun to play a villain.  "It's kind of hard because it's a different personality," she said, but added it gives her the chance to work on her acting skills.

The most fun part of the play for Ashley is when she is frightened and woken up in the middle of the night.  "I go to sleep and then I hear these sounds of bells and then it turns to chains rattling so then I wake up and (someone) comes out of the picture frame," she explained.

Jacob Marley, played by Hope Roberts, is the one who frightens Scrooge. The Grade 6 student said this is her favourite scene as well and she wanted to play this character because she wanted to act like a ghost.  "It's fun because I get to rattle the chains," she explained.

"It's fun just to pretend to be someone else"
Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol Student perform ArtReach's Christmas Carol play
Wakefield Country Day, Flint Hill VA - ArtReach's A Christmas Carol

Hope, who said she enjoys performing, had many lines to learn, which she said was difficult at first, but easy once she memorized them.  "When you're in front of a lot of people it's a little bit nerve-wracking, but then you've got to pretend they're not there."

Jace Bews admitted she is a little nervous, but excited to perform for an audience. The Grade 5 student plays Charles Dickens and said she enjoys taking on larger roles and it was not too difficult to play a male character.  "It's fun just to pretend to be someone else other than you and try someone else's personality," she said.

As part of her costume, Jace wears a beard, cape, hat and a painted-on moustache. Her favourite part of the play is when she fights with the storytellers, insisting it is her show.  Roberts said a lot of work has gone into rehearsals and students are looking forward to performing. She said the project helps to bring the student body together and encourages school pride and team building.

"The overall goal of drama presentation is to foster a positive self-concept and explore theatric roles and just acquire those dramatic and presentation skills. So we really encourage that."

Orr's Rising Stars bring ArtReach's 'The Reluctant Dragon' to life
TAMI MOSSER Staff Writer, The Daily Record

ORRVILLE -- They're called the Rising Stars, and this time, they're going to tell a tale about a dragon.

The youth theater division of the Orrville Community Theater will present "The Reluctant Dragon" on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2:30 p.m. at the theater in the Save-A-Lot Plaza on Hostetler Road in Orrville.

A minimum $5 donation per person is asked for tickets, which are available at the door or by calling 330-439-2051.

According to director Staci Hochstrasser, "The Reluctant Dragon" is "the story of a king who hears there's a dragon and wants him killed, but then realizes he is a nice dragon and wants to save him."

"12-member cast has kids ranging in age from 7-12."
Reluctant Dragon in ArtReach's play Students Perform in classic play
A Children's Theatre, Mesilla, Las Cruces NM - ArtReach's The Reluctant Dragon

The play is based on an 1898 children's story by Kenneth Grahame and formed the outline of a 1941 Disney film. The script being used by the Rising Stars cast has been adapted by Kathryn Schultz Miller and is offered through ArtReach Children's Theater Plays.

The 12-member cast includes children ranging in age from 7-12, Hochstrasser said. "We have kids from Wooster, Orrville and Norton, Wadsworth," she said, "so we have them from a lot of surrounding areas." 

"It helps get them out of their shyness."
Children's Playscript for Reluctant Dragon Reluctant Dragon written for kids to perform
A Children's Theatre, Mesilla, Las Cruces NM - ArtReach's The Reluctant Dragon

The idea, the director said, is not just to learn lines, go on stage and say them. The Rising Stars program is, rather, a workshop-type experience in which young actors can learn their craft and it is hoped they have fun, too. "It helps get them out of their shyness and their shells," Hochstrasser said.

Following "The Reluctant Dragon," will be the organization's annual Christmas musical, "Christmas Double Play," which will be performed Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 4 and 11 at 2:30 p.m. For more information, contact the theater at 330-439-2051.

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