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This page (Page #9) has great articles from newspapers and school newsletters.  Check out all these great comments about ArtReach popular titles: The Jungle Book, Mulan, The Wizard of Oz.

Applebox theater presents ‘Jungle Book
By Audrey Caro, Polk County Itemizer-Observer

MONMOUTH — The themes of community and family that run through The Jungle Book also are apparent in The Apple Box Children’s Theater production of the Rudyard Kipling classic.

The theater collaborated with several other entities, including Arts Integrated Ministry, Children’s Educational Theater and Central High School’s performing arts department, said Rob Harriman.

“It’s really cool.  I’m really enjoying it.”
ArtReach's Jungle Book in Monmouth
Rob Harriman coaches the cast of The Jungle Book before rehearsal

Most of the masks used in the play are from Central High School, he said, and Apple Box has lent costumes to CHS for other productions. Western Oregon University is taking care of the sound.

“It’s a reminder that for as small of (an area) as this is, there is a huge pool of people invested in doing this,” Harriman said. “There are four solid kids’ theater programs (in the area).”

Harriman is directing the play and Barbara Harriman, his wife, is the production manager. Rob read through the book with their daughter Fiona and she added some scenes, he said.

Kathryn Schultz Miller adapted the book.

“The author of the play said do whatever you want with it,” Harriman said. “We recalibrated the play to make it fit into our vision of the author’s vision.”

Harriman said he enjoys the theme of community and working together that is implied throughout The Jungle Book.

The story follows the journey of Mowgli, a boy who was raised by a family of wolves since his birth, but must flee his home for safety from Shere Khan, the tiger.

“The biggest challenge will be breaking away from the Disney version of the story,” Harriman said.

The Apple Box Children’s Theater production of The Jungle Book is “truer to the source material,” he said.

They reinserted the poems that are at the beginning of each chapter in Kipling’s book.

In its eighth season, the theater group is experiencing some firsts with The Jungle Book production — it’s the largest cast, at 51, and it is the first production that features choreography.

Children from The Dance & Fitness Studio were in last year’s play and were asked to be involved this year, Harriman said.

“That’s how we got so many kids,” he said.

There are four dance numbers, choreographed by Janey Jefferson and Bethany Allen, the dance studio.

“In auditions, we asked if they wanted to dance,” Harriman said. “A lot of the kids were really excited about dancing.”

"The story follows the journey of Mowgli."
The Jungle Book cast rehearsing
The cast of The Jungle Book rehearses a scene at Western Oregon University.

The casts for Apple Box Theater productions are 8 to 14 years old. Veteran participant Haley Taylor, 16, passed the age limit to act in the plays, so she is taking on the role of assistant manager/stage director.

“It’s fun to see from new perspective,” Taylor said. “It’s really cool. I’m really enjoying it.”

(Photos by Audrey Caro)

Mulan play entertains area children
Panola College Theatre Department presented “The Legend of Mulan

The Panola College Theatre Department will present “The Legend of Mulan – A Children’s Play” at 10 a.m., Friday, May 3, and at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, May 4, in the Q.M. Martin Auditorium. Both performances are free and open to the public.

“’The Legend of Mulan’ is an interactive play for children of all ages,” said Karen King, theatre director. “This play is our annual children’s event for area schools. We have invited several area schools to bring their students to the play.”

The 1998 Disney movie is now considered a classic, but the story of Mulan is adapted from ancient Chinese legend about a young girl who takes her father’s place in battle. She becomes a warrior-heroine and her story is a cultural icon for the Chinese people. 

The Legend of Mulan is an exciting play about the tale of the heroic Mulan, a woman living in Northern Wei Dynasty China, who has snuck into the army to save China so that her wounded father will not have to fight again against the barbaric Huns. Mulan takes her father’s sword and rises to the challenge to fight in the Chinese Army.

"The audience was invited to hold their swords high, shout, stomp and clap."
ArtReach's play Mulan The Legend of Mulan Chinese tale, The Legend of Mulan
The Panola College Theatre Department, TX -  ArtReach's The Legend of Mulan

Panola College Theatre Department presented “The Legend of Mulan” on Friday and Saturday, May 3-4, in the Q.M. Martin Auditorium. Designed for children’s theatre, the play invites the audience to interact with the cast. Theatre students handed out play swords and, on cue, the audience was invited to hold their swords high, shout, stomp and clap.

Set in ancient China, “The Legend of Mulan,” involves the audience in assisting Mulan in her efforts to defeat the Huns.

Cast members included Peyton Proffitt, Justin Gonzales, Tony Jeter, Jasmine Ryan, Abby Parrish, Sarah Owens, Christian Kotara, Keath Kibbey, Bethany Crowe, Lacie Sepulvado, Angel Kammer, Addie Pope, Tailer Chong and Shelby Watson.

Crew members included Maria Mejai, Kyree Williams, Katy Chance, Bethany Crow, Catalina Zoyquilla, Hannah Williams and Jesse Williams.

The play was directed by Karen King, professor of theatre, and Kyree Williams, student director. The play was presented with special permission from ArtReach Children’s Theatre Plays.

Photos by Katy Chance.

'The Wizard of Oz' by Middlebury Elementary School
"One hundred sixty students took part in their first theatrical experience; one played the Wizard of Oz."

"A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - Wizard in 'The Wizard of Oz'

Middlebury, CT - One hundred sixty students that attend Middlebury Elementary School are clearly loved a lot by others. With great joy, they presented a lovely production of 'The Wizard of Oz' on the stage of Memorial Middle School on Thursday evening with the help of many parents and staff members of their school. Only one performance remains on Friday evening at 7pm and admission is one item for the Middlebury Food Bank.

Director MaryLou Torre, the interim principal of Middlebury Elementary School, understands the importance of theatre in our schools. "The project was all about process. The rehearsals and practices were as much as a part of the experience as the performance you will see tonight. Fun and freedom of expression for the students and the directors were key goals along this journey."

"Fun and Freedom of Expression"
Kids performing The Wizard of Oz

This version of the classic book by L. Frank Baum is a play adapted by Kathryn Schultz Miller. It included a huge chorus of "vivacious" students in a rainbow of t-shirts that narrated the story with choral reading from the bleachers house left. The cast included six different girls in the role of Dorothy, four different Scarecrows, two Tin Man characters, two Lions, two Gatekeepers and many, many others. Everyone had their own wonderful costume; kudos to Amy Raefski on her adorable design work and to the large costume crew.

Corinna Flanagan and Kathy Miller served as the Art Director/Set Design team. The panels of the set were painted by a large group of students (shout out to Nick Salvucci) that got to wear cool painted t-shirts on opening night. Michael Kaulins served as AD and Lydia McCarthy did the choreography. Chris Turecek was the Music Director/Tech Director. Community theatre actor/dad Ian Diedrich did the prop construction, including the head of the wizard painted on a white curtain; shout out to Kalman Zold who played Oz. Michaela Turecek did the pretty impressive make-up for the actors that needed an unnatural face color. I had a great reserved seat in the front row, but the sound with microphones on stands was really very good throughout the gym.

A bunch of young male actors was the pretty adorable Flying Monkeys with Luke Humphrey as Chimp, Emma Taglialatella as Scamp and Kyleigh Favale as Rascal. Eva Guerrera rocked the role of the "they don't call me wicked for nothing" Witch and melted impressively. Addison Mitchell and Owen Lattanzio did well with the shared role of the Gatekeepers. Ryan Dawes and Madison Ferguson were both good Lions and Cole Hughes and Luke Jackson in full silver were effective Tin Man, I mean Men. Scarecrows were Matteo DelBuono, Caitlin Flaherty, Peter Skabardonis, and Kiera Daweese.

"They don't call me wicked for nothing..."
Children performing The Wizard of Oz play

Glinda in the classic pink dress and crown was played well by Rachel Anderson, accompanied by bubbles. Featured Munchkins included Ryan Murray (Joe,) Emily Raefski (Curly,) and Hunter Diedrich returned to the stage to play Burly. Leah Wasserstein was Auntie Em and Jack Sedensky was Uncle Henry. Joey Bernardi barked well in the role of Toto because there was no stuffed dog in a basket in this play. The poppy scene gave new meaning to "pulling my leg" in a cute way.

The gaggle of girls in the blue and white gingham included Emma Kulla, Faith Graziano, Lauren Anderson, Grace Jackson, Elizabeth Raefski and Aubrey Guiditta. The most adorable Munchkins specialized in stealing hearts in their floral hats and technicolor outfits. Best featured ensemble was billed as "The Forest" and included Brailee Batista, Evan Deschaine, Lilyana Reed and Shaelyn Walsh as the apple-throwing trees with lots of attitude.

The curtain closed between the scenes and if the transitions were a bit long, what the audience saw when they reopened was worth the wait. The students could never be heard backstage and that can be hard for the very young. The director shared during her curtain speech that the young thespians, some as young as six, had been practicing since January, during which time their "little school play" grew into a full 55-minute production. The students all knew their lines and if they hadn't expected to perform in front of people sitting in the 600 seats, it did not show.

Thank you to this elementary school staff for giving most of these young performers their first theatrical experience in a safe setting. Congratulations on a job well done.

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