FREE RESOURCES: Behind the Scenes [ Page 4 ]
Background info about the stories and themes of ArtReach's plays
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This page (Page #4) has stories and helpful info from behind the scenes of ArtReach productions!  Push back the curtain and check out all these great ArtReach titles: Kid Frankenstein, Christmas Cinderella, Sword in the Stone, Sleepy Hollow, Snow White, The Mark Twain Show, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan.  Don’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contain lots more background articles and info about your play!

Frankenstein is 200 Years Old!
The world's most famous monster's birthday

Even National Public Radio is celebrating the world’s most famous monster’s birthday!  Frankenstein still fascinates kids of every age!

Today on NPR:  "Two hundred years ago, a 20-year-old English author anonymously published the tale of a scientist – obsessed with the impossible – creating life. The story evolved into a classic. A masterpiece. Revered alongside Shakespeare. Byron. Melville. The book was decades – centuries, even – ahead of its time. Raising deep, existential questions about who we are, our responsibility in science, and our ethical obligations. This hour, On Point: Frankenstein rises again 200 years on. -- Jane Clayson”

Welcome to My La-bor-ra-tory!  Ha-ha!
Kid Scientists love 'Kid Frankenstein'! Frankenstein play for young people.
ArtReach's Kid Frankenstein

Frankenstein was written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.   She started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818:  It is still available for kids today:  Frankenstein (Junior Classics for Young Readers)  Discover Books, Dalmatian Press.

Critics have responded positively to Frankenstein positive since the mid-20th century. Director Guillermo del Toro describes Frankenstein as "the quintessential teenage book", adding "You don't belong. You were brought to this world by people that don't care for you and you are thrown into a world of pain and suffering, and tears and hunger. It's an amazing book written by a teenage girl. It's mind blowing."

Frankenstein200 is a transmedia project, studying the learning that occurs when people participate in a combination of hands-on activities and immersive digital experiences. The Frankenstein200 kit includes seven hands-on activities that encourage creativity and reflection about responsible innovation.
Check it out here:

A Christmas Cinderella will be performed for donations

Diana Luca Brown will be directing four performances of "A Christmas Cinderella" at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket, Dec. 15-18.  Performances will be Saturday, Dec. 15, at 6:00 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4:00 p.m.; and Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 16-17, at 1:00 p.m. in a pair of weekday matinees. Admission is $2.00 or a non-perishable food item to donate to the Tonasket Food Bank.

"What a great way to celebrate the giving season!"
A Christmas Cinderella Play
ArtReach's "A Christmas CinderellaBrent Baker/staff photo

Kids Cast Rehearses:  Emma Alexander, Ariana Perez, Phoenix Willging, Anajah Braggs, and Sheyann LaBelle rehearse for their production of "A Christmas Cinderella," scheduled to run at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket.

"All of the kids had such smiley faces - they loved it!"
Holiday Play for Cinderella Kids perform ArtReach Christmas Cinderella ArtReach's Musical Play - A Christmas Cinderella
ArtReach's "A Christmas Cinderella" - Community Cultural Center of Tonasket, WA

Diana Luca Brown, Director:  "Wow, Everybody, what great shows! We want to thank you-everybody who helped make this event a success. Thanks to your donations we collected 8 full boxes of food donations for Tonasket Food Bank! What a great way to celebrate the giving season! The kids had a lot of fun! Also, thanks to all the teachers who came with their classes. You've been great audience!!! Each show was sold and we had almost every day 120 kids in attendance! Thanks to CCCT staff, volunteers and parents~ Merry Christmas!"

 Audience Reaction:  "Thanks to you Diana for bringing Children's theater alive at the CCC. We loved the play and all of the kids had such smiley faces--they loved it also. Keep em' coming!"

Sword in the Stone
The Advocate: Gresham OR

MHCC has had a long history in the performing arts: Just ask Daryl Harrison-Carson, a 20-year veteran instructor and technical director for this year's fall theatre performance, which is shaping up to be exceptional in more ways than just one.

For starters, Harrison-Carson and part-time assistant Julie Akers, who is the director for this year's play, have decided to put a spin on Kathryn Schultz Miller's "Sword in the Stone" that will be unique to MHCC's performance. The script will be reimagined as children acting out the events of the legendary King Arthur's childhood in their imaginations.

"The set helps give the play a sense of magic."

Mt. Hood Community College performs ArtReach's Sword in the Stone

The set, designed by Harrison-Carson, is meant to emulate a play structure, complete with seesaws and monkey bars. She noted that there are a lot of quick scene changes in the script, and this was a creative solution to that problem that helps gives the play a sense of magic.

Another, albeit more extenuating, detail surrounding this play is that the Mt. Hood theatre department's head, Mace Archer, is currently taking a yearlong sabbatical. Harrison-Carson is the only full-time faculty member working in the department; the other members are either part-time faculty or hired by college specifically for the play.

She concedes that progress in the department is a bit "chaotic" right now, but said she is glad that the students are getting to work with different directors and faculty members, which gives more opportunities to make connections that can lead to theatre internships.

One such contracted individual is Kristen Mun, who creates on-stage fight choreography. The Mt. Hood play is set to have plenty of action and sword fights, and special swords of reinforced metal have to be used on stage. Since the swords will be used repeatedly over the course of many rehearsals and performances, they have to be exceptionally sturdy to ensure that they don't wear down and break during the performance.

"Plenty of action and sword fights."

Mt. Hood Community College performs ArtReach's Sword in the Stone

The actors have been rehearsing their fight scenes in slow motion to get the choreography down, and, thanks to Mun's expertise, Harrison-Carson is happy to report that there have been no accidents or severed limbs.

The Sword in the Stone is set to open at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 4. Buses from local elementary schools also will be bringing schoolchildren to see the play, and hopefully inspire them to pursue the theatre, on Nov. 6, 8, 13, 15, and 18.

The matinee will be performed at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16, which Harrison-Carson recommends as the best time for MHCC students to attend as there are no class conflicts, and the theater will not be hosting elementary field trips that day.

The play has a runtime of under an hour, and will cost $2 per person. However, since it is considered a children's play, Mt. Hood is willing to waive the $2 entry fee for anyone unable to pay and who wants to experience the magic of the theatre for the first time.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Script is Kid-Friendly
Halloween Script is Full of Hilarious Comedy

You might be surprised during the first few minutes of ArtReach’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.   Rather than recoiling in horror, you’ll be laughing your socks off!

ArtReach’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has been adapted especially for kids and family audiences.  Irving Washington’s famous American tale takes center stage, with his story and language in tact.  The bumbling school teacher Ichabod Crane woos his heart’s desire, the plumb and blushing Katrina, never suspecting that he is the butt of his rival Brom Bones’ practical joke.  Katrina has no intention of dropping her brawny beau for the school teacher, she just plays coy until Brom wins the match.

"You’ll be laughing your socks off!"
The Ride of the Headless Horseman!  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow! Great Roles for Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers!
The Ride of the Headless Horseman!  Great Roles for Middle, Jr/ High School.

Laughs and audience participation make this a great play for Halloween entertainment.  Clearly drawn instructions for building a Headless Horseman costume are included in the Teachers Guide, making it easier for you concentrate on comic timing.  Don’t hesitate to assure your young audiences that, though there will be moments of thrilling fright, they’ll leave the theatre laughing.

Local children perform new version of Snow White
The Cranston Herald, Rhode Island

By Pam Schiff

A beloved classic fairy tale had a few tweaks and changes as the cast of the latest rendition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves performed this past weekend at William Hall Library under the supervision of Gladys Cole.

“This has been a great experience for my daughter & son."
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
A SMILEY CAST: Gladys Cole (on the stairs) poses with her cast members after a full dress rehearsal.

“This has been a great experience for my daughter Kayla [Snow White] and my son, Aidan [Skipper]. I feel honored that she was able to use the songs I wrote for the play: ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘The Dwarf Song,’” parent Megan Gilbert said. “The kids have been acting with G.Cole productions for over two years and I feel so lucky to have them with a director that is creative, fun and has more patience than I imagine a saint would. This is a total community theater and all parents help so much.”

With a full cast of children aged 5 to 14 years old, Cole had her hands full keeping everyone focused and on-task.

The cast was made up of children from Cranston, Warwick, Richmond, Pawtucket, East Providence, South Kingstown and East Greenwich.

"She makes everybody feel like their role is special.”
Kids performing Snow White play Snow White and the Witch in School Play
ArtReach's SNOW WHITE - The Arts Project of Orange County, San Clemente CA

Kayla Gilbert (Snow White), Maya Madison (The Queen), Neala Pyne (The Mirror), Liam DeRosa (The King) and Kyle Denson Yay (The Prince) all filled the lead roles.  

Other players included Jacqueline Buffery (Narrator No. 1), Olivia Sturtervant (Narrator No. 2), Annalise Curry (Lady Margot), Kate Curry (Lady Sybil), Robert Bourvier (The Huntsman) and Grayson Carrier (The Tree).  The Queen Spirits were Jamisen Geyer (Witch Hazel), Dilys Wiening (Rose Thorn), Lily Soares (Ginger Root) and Kristen McConnell (Fireseed).  The Dwarves were portrayed by: Aidan Gilbert (Skipper), Marinn Danis (Chipper), Brady Burden (Giddy), Caden Burden (a-Choo), Remmy Danis (Grouchy), Kristen McConnell (Wall-Flower) and Raegan Garcia (Snores-a-lot).  The Forest Animals were: Alannah Curry (Bunny), Emily Panas (Bumble Bee), Payton Garcia (Squirrel), Morgan Panas (Deer), Rose Bouvier (Owl) and Sophia Poirier (Blue Bird).

"It's really fun acting with Miss Gladys. She makes everybody feel like their role is special,” said Kayla Gilbert, a 12-year-old Bain Middle School student and actress.

Aidan Gilbert, a 10-year-old student and actor from Stadium Elementary School, added his praise.

"I like playing a part of a dwarf and being able to sing the song my mom wrote for us."

"My goal is to continue to empower children through theatre."
Forest Creatures in Snow White Large cast of kids for Snow White performance
ArtReach's SNOW WHITE - The Arts Project of Orange County, San Clemente CA

For this production, the children started rehearsing in March and performed in May.

“G.Cole Productions was started in 2013 with a production of Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon at the Artistic Exchange in Cranston. Then I directed Holka Polka at William Hall Library and I knew I wanted to only produce children’s theatre. So I changed the name to G.Cole Productions Children’s Theatre Company. My goal is to empower children though theatre: to give children organization, leadership, and public speaking skills to develop confidence and know that dreams are possible. I have been very fortunate that Adrienne Gallo at William Hall Library has allowed me to use the library for rehearsals and my productions,” Cole said.

G.Cole Productions is a community theatre and is only successful with the help of the parents of the children that participate in the productions. Parents help with all aspects of shows costumes, props, set-design, usher, front house, tickets sales and backstage crew.

Cole received her associate’s degree in fine arts from the Community College of Rhode Island. She was mentored by the late Jeffery Butterworth, who encouraged her to choreograph her first children’s show. She interned at John V. Doyle School’s drama production of Lullaby of Broadway. Butterworth also gave her a chance to write her first play, Only Monday.  She went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts & Science from Rhode Island College.

“I knew that I wanted to have a career in theatre. My goal for G.Cole Productions is to continue to empower children though theatre. I feel so blessed that I have this wonderful career teaching and directing children’s theatre,” she said.

Mark Twain Loved Childrens Theatre
Every Child Deserves Theatre in School

"Children's Theatre is a great educational feature.  The time ought to come when a child's theatre will be a part of every public school in the land.”
Mark Twain (The New York Times) August 10, 1909

The occasion of Mark Twain’s quote was the closing of East Side Playhouse due to lack of funds.  Just one year earlier Mr. Twain had delighted in a performance of an adaptation of his book, The Prince and the Pauper, produced for a young audience.   Our most beloved American author knew more than a century ago what we all know now, children’s theatre should and must be a staple of feature of education.

For many years, we would hear from teachers who lamented the fact that there could be no drama club at their schools because they had no stage.  Sometimes they would say their school could only afford a few dollars toward the expense of a theatrical production.   Without sewing machines there could be no costumes.  Without a work shop there could be no scenery.   But anyone who has read or seen an ArtReach play knows that none of these things are needed to put on a wonderful show that will light kids’ imaginations and make their parents fairly burst with pride!

"Mark Twain's greatest hits for teens."
One Act Play for Schools and Theatres -- The Mark Twain Show One Act Play for Schools and Theatres -- The Mark Twain Show
ArtReach Touring Theatre, The Mark Twain Show

At ArtReach we encourage educators to concentrate not on what they don’t have, but what they do have in abundance!  Every teacher and every student has a deep well of imagination that can be called on to delight, dazzle and enchant.   ArtReach’s plays are designed to coax out the treasures that already exist in the hearts and minds of every student, young or old.

One of ArtReach’s biggest fans, Sarah Ackerman-Hale writes:

"Directing plays inspired me to go back to school to become an elementary teacher. As I've completed my schooling, I've come to really understand and appreciate your philosophies about the emphasis being on the process, not so much the completed ‘product’.”

As you might have guessed, Sarah’s recent production of ArtReach’s TREASURE ISLAND was huge hit.  Mark Twain would have loved it!

The Importance of Being Tinker Bell
Why is Tinker Bell one of children’s theatre’s most beloved characters?

In the play PETER PAN, Tinker Bell is Peter’s best friend and constant companion.  She tags along with him to the Darling house, helps Peter find his shadow and sprinkles pixie dust on the children to help them fly.  She may even be in love with Peter though he doesn’t know that since he’s only a little boy.  Before it’s all over Tinker Bell has saved Peter’s life by drinking the poison that was meant for him.  And in a way, she has saved us -- the audience, by inspiring us to "believe”.

Tinker Bell is a child’s ultimate imaginary friend.  One who loves Peter no matter what and will help him in life’s struggles and even save him from death.

"Tinker Bell is Peter’s best friend and companion."
Tinker Bell is a fun part for shy kids!  Peter Pan! Great Parts for Young Kids!  Peter Pan!
Tinker Bell from Shoultes Elem (WA) & Welsh Hills Granville (OH)

In the original production of PETER PAN, Tinker Bell is seen only as a reflected light and heard only as the tinkling of bells.  ArtReach’s production allows the Tinker Bell to come fully alive onstage.  Instead of a light, a real performer uses only a kazoo and body language to communicate, which retains the effect of her original otherworldliness while allowing the young actor to fully embrace and enjoy Tinker Bell’s unique fairy/pixie character.

At ArtReach we often point out that Tinker Bell is a great role for kids who love to act but have trouble learning lines.  That doesn’t mean that this is a simple role to perform -- only that a playful, imaginative child can truly convey Tinker Bell’s rare and magical gifts.

Why is ArtReach’s Wizard of Oz so popular?
It’s not hard to understand why teachers all over the world recommend ArtReach’s version of WIZARD OF OZ over all others.

This script is one of the most beloved because it stays true to L. Frank Baum’s original book.  This no need for gimmicks, stage tricks or elaborate effects.  There are no long speeches or complicated sequences.  Just as Baum gave kids a safe place for dreaming in his classic book -- this version uses the written word as a structure for kids to hang their dreams on.  It uses the child’s innate impulse to play and invent – the essential elements that make the story so endearing.  Using creative play as its base, kids are allowed to be silly, to day dream, to explore a land of Oz that is distinctly their own.  Why just watch a storm appear?  Why not become the storm yourself?  Why should Toto stay in his basket when he has so much to do and say?  Why does there have to be just one Dorothy?  Why can’t everyone who wants to play the girl from Kansas have her own special moment?

 "Fun, freedom and creative joy are infused in every page."
Fun Characters for Lots of Children to Perform!  The Wizard of Oz! Several kids get to play Dorothy and Scarecrow!  The Wizard of Oz!
Stage Kids (CA) & Shoultes Elem (WA) - Up to 4 Scarecrows!

ArtReach’s version of THE WIZARD OF OZ was written just for kids.  Fun, freedom and creative joy are infused in every page of this script, inviting children and directors to create a play that is meaningful for their special kids.  No hassle, no fuss and no demands.  Whether you are a professional or a first time director, you can’t go wrong with ArtReach’s WIZARD OF OZ.  The script takes you by the hand and lets you and your kids find your own yellow brick road.

Peter Pan is Theatre – Not TV
So you didn’t like the TV Special PETER PAN LIVE?  Almost nobody did.  Here’s why.

The TV Special Peter Pan Live! had hardly begun before twittering folks all over the country were sharing their displeasure.  It seemed everyone was disappointed in this most anticipated production.  Why?

Allison Williams and Christopher Walken gave heartfelt performances.  The scenery and costumes were unique, colorful and imaginative.  The songs were the same great songs we remembered. So why did so many folks feel let down when they watched this beautiful and exciting TV event?

At ArtReach, we realized long ago that a live performance never translates to video or TV.  Television productions are written, acted and edited for television’s unique platform – a screen.  A stage performance is a once in a life-time event, and its magic depends entirely on the interaction and participation of a live audience.  When we watch live people pouring their hearts out on stage we engage, sympathize and feel invested in the success of the performance and performers we are watching.  We are as exhilarated as the performers because for just a short while we are sharing an extraordinary moment of human connection.

"A stage performance is a once in a life-time event."
Children's Christmas Musicals from ArtReach!  A Christmas Peter Pan! A Christmas Peter Pan!  Children's Musical Christmas Plays for Large Casts of Kids!
ArtReach’s Peter Pan, North Shore Children's Theatre, Salem, MA

J. M. Barrie wrote PETER PAN specifically for the stage.  He didn’t write his novel PETER AND WENDY (which is now in the public domain) until long after the stage play’s spectacular success.  Never was there a story that depended more on the delicate interaction between actor and audience.  Try as they might, the best actors directors and designers in the world cannot save PETER PAN from looking bland and lifeless on a TV screen.

People reacted negatively to the TV Special Peter Pan Live! simply because they instinctively wanted more.  They could feel in their bones that this would be terrific if only they were actually there to expereince it.  That’s why no matter how many media screens we own on our TVs or our phones; we will still seek out live theatre performances.  Peter Pan will always fly into our hearts, as long as theatre lives.

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