Children's Theatre Plays
Great Play Scripts & Musicals for Kids!



Comments from teachers, schools, media about ArtReach plays

Young Actors Take on Martin Luther King’s Story
"This Play is for Everyone Who Believes in Freedom for All”

"It's for all of us... We are the dream."
Martin Luther King Play for Kids! Martin Luther King Script for Schools! Martin Luther King Play for Kids to Perform!

Review by Jane Belden for the Trinity Journal (CA)
Performance by Trinity Players Summer Youth Theatre Workshop, 7/16/14
Directed by Bridget Rogers and Brittany Meredith

After only four weeks of education, Trinity Players Summer Youth Theater Workshop pulled off an excellent production at Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center in Weaverville.

We are the Dream opened with the actors singing and walking down the stairs to the stage where paintings of posters of civil rights were hung at the back and risers where the cast were placed casually, yet quietly, unseen until actively participating in the scene.

I had the opportunity to read the script a few months ago and it emotionally moved me, but made me wonder how non-blacks would pull it off. Well, I have to tell you that it didn’t matter what the ethnic background of the actors were, they did pull it off royally.

Bridget Rogers says in her director’s notes, "We have come a long way since segregation, though we still have progress to make. We mustn’t let it make us bitter, or have hate in our hearts. We must always love others. The dream continues to live in the hearts and souls of every person, young or old, male or female, who believes in freedom for all."

-- Jane Belden for the Trinity Journal (CA)

CTW Presents The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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

Widener Children’s Theatre Workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their admission ticket? A folded crane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes (small cast version)

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

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

ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes (small cast version)

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- David Appleford, Phoenix AZ

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

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

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

Learn more at ASSITEJ website:

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

Dear Children,

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

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

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

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

Your affectionate Friend,
Lewis Carroll
December 25, 1871


ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays
Great Play Scripts & Musicals for Kids!