Andrew’s Review of “Goodnight Moon”

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Hi Friends! Kid Reporter Andrew here to tell you all about my time at Childsplay’s performance of Goodnight Moon.  First off, the show runs through April 10th so you still have time to see this amazing show! Don’t miss it! You will love it!

When I walked in the theater I kept saying “Wow!” because I felt like I was IN the Great Green Room! The set looks just like the book.  I even brought the book with me. I kept looking at the book and looking back at the set, and then listing off all the things that are the same. Which…is pretty much everything! It is awesome!

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We got to bring our own pillows and blankets to sit on the floor (but you can use the pillows and carpet squares provided by the theatre as well).  I loved that we could be comfy to watch a theatre performance.  It reminded me of storytime that I used to go to when I was little. But this was the BEST storytime experience EVER, because the book literally came to life in front of me!

(You can sit in chairs too.  My Grandma did not come because she thought she would have to sit on the floor with me (which would be uncomfortable for her).  When we got there, we realized that she could have come after all.  It is open seating, so if you come early to get the best seat choices, you can have some people in your group sit in chairs and the rest who want the “full experience” of storytime, can sit in front of them on the ground.  Then, you are all comfortable and together to enjoy the play.)

I wondered how they were going to take a short book and fill the time that a play takes.  Well, they had no problem filling the time! We got to see the Goodnight Moon story come to life in lots of wonderful detail.  They also included stories like “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” within the storyline, since they are pictured on the walls of the Great Green Room too.  In fact, one of my very favorite parts of the play comes from one of the stories in the portraits on the wall.  I don’t want to give away the surprise – but watch those portraits very carefully – because they do some very magical things! J

One other way that you feel in the Great Green Room is that the stage has been lowered to be level with the audience.  The actors are right there in front of you. I got so excited when one of the actors looked me right in the eyes and smiled!

I loved being able to see the stage so closely.  I sat there staring at each special effect trying to figure out how they did each thing.  My two favorite parts of being a Kid Reporter are:  1) Meeting and interviewing the actors; and 2) Going backstage with Ms. Samantha (PR person) and the Stage Manager, Ms. Sarah, to see how all the effects work!  I got to climb through the door that they use to come back and forth, lay down on Bunny’s bed to see how they make the bed and covers move, see how the cow jumps over the moon and much more. It is like being in the best playground ever! When they offer a chance to buy a backstage tour for this (or any) play at Childsplay, do it! It is really interesting and fun to literally see what is happening behind the scenes!

Something extra special happens at this play though.  At the end, everyone gets a chance to go on stage to meet the actors and ask questions.  So, it is kind of like you are all Kid Reporters for this play…not just me!

One of my favorite things to see on stage was the doll house. It does some magical things during the show.  Watch it carefully because something is going on in there! At the end of the show though, you get to look inside. It too looks JUST like the Great Green Room inside! You don’t want to miss taking a peek inside!

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Now let’s talk about the actors and characters.  The actors all did an awesome job! There are only four of them to act out many different characters. They are all so good at it that you barely notice that the same actor plays different characters! They are so good at entertaining you too! The acting, singing and dancing had us smiling the whole time! The music was great too.  Perfect in every scene.

Bunny was my favorite character.  He is funny and will remind you of yourself when you don’t want to go to bed.  He made me laugh so hard when he asked for his giraffe…and his elephant…and his boy doll…and some water…and…and…and. Not that any of us do that, right?!

I have been blessed to attend many Childsplay performances.  That is why I applied to be a Kid Reporter, because I love them all so much! Each time is a different experience, but I have always been glad that I went.   This performance of Goodnight Moon has been one of my favorites and I think it will be a favorite for you and your family too.

Here is the official information on everyone involved in making this special play come to life from Childsplay’s Press Release:

The Goodnight Moon cast features: Michael Thompson (Bunny), Chanel Bragg (Old Lady/Dish/Bear), Michelle Chin (Mouse/Cat/Bear), and Tommy Strawser (Tooth Fairy/ Kittens/Dog/Bear). Anthony Runfola will direct. Goodnight Moon is sponsored by Friends of Tempe Center for the Arts and First Things First.

Musical Director: Alan Ruch; Choreographer: Molly Lajoie; Scenic Design: Holly Windingstad;  Costume /Hair & Makeup Design: Connie Furr Soloman; Lighting Design: Tim Monson; Sound Design: Christopher Neumeyer; Video Design: Limitrophe Films; Stage Manager (February 14th – March 20th): Sarah G. Chanis; Stage Manager (March 22nd – April 10th): Heather Patterson; Kid Reporter: Andrew Burkhart.

Here are the questions I asked the actors and the information I found out from my interview time with the cast:

  1. When did you start acting? Tommy – In college professionally; Michael – Senior year in high school; Chanel – Sixth grade; and Michelle – 7 years old, but professionally in high school
  2. How long does it take you to learn your lines: Two weeks with this show, as it is an easy show to learn.
  3. What is your favorite thing about this play? Michael answered and said that he likes being able to see the reactions of the audience and hearing them laugh. He said that the cast members are all friends and it was fun to perform with them.
  4. Who is your favorite character in this book? Answers were Mouse and Tooth Fairy
  5. What is your advice for kids who want to be in plays? Michelle answered by saying, “See as many plays as possible. Do academy classes where you can work with actors. The more you can see and explore, the better you can decide what parts of a play you prefer.”
  6. How is the set built? The scene shop builds it in downtown Phoenix and then puts it on a big truck and brings it to the theatre. It is designed to make you feel like you are in the book (and it definitely does!)
  7. Why do you think this book is such a classic for children? Answers were that it is simplistic, but has a deep, rich text. It allows the reader to have imagination.  It helps children to see their own bedrooms as special.
  8. I am a big Pokemon fan. If there was a Pokemon play, would you want to be in it? They said yes and said that some of their favorite characters to include would be Pikachu, Squirtle and Jiggly Puff.

The last play I was the Kid Reporter for I asked if they would ever do a Pokemon play. Mr. Dwayne said that if a good Pokemon play was presented to him, he would consider it.  I added “Playwright” to my future career goals that day and I think I now have my cast in mind! 🙂

Thanks to all who chose me to be one of Childsplay’s Kid Reporters for this season! I really loved my job and I hope I did a good job for you.

Love,

Andrew, Kid Reporter…signing out!

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Andrew’s Review Of “A Year With Frog And Toad”

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Hi. My name is Andrew and I went to see “A Year With Frog And Toad” with my Momma and Grandma.  I am writing to tell you about the play and all the things we liked about it.  All three of us liked many things about the play and we are very different ages.  My Momma liked the costumes and the music. My grandma liked the set and the cool effects they did. My favorite things about the play were that it was funny and it taught you about friendship. There is something in this play that everyone will like!

Our fun time started as soon as we got to the Tempe Center for the Arts. We got to do a coloring craft to help make a mural in the lobby. I love to do art! Then, the Christmas music started and we got to sing and dance with the people putting it on. It was really fun! I got to buy a cool Toad puppet before it started to remember my time at the play. Also, it helps Childsplay bring plays to kids in the community when you buy the things on their table out front.

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When the play started, we got to meet Frog and Toad at their houses.  They were just waking up from their winter hibernation.  Frog got up right away but Toad did not want to wake up. It is a very funny scene with Frog waking up Toad! I laughed a lot and it was one of my favorite parts of the whole play!

We get to watch Frog and Toad go through the year doing lots of things together every day.  They are very good friends to each other.  The play teaches you many ways to be a good friend by watching how Frog and Toad treat each other.  They are always thinking of ways to make each other happy.

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The play is based on the Frog and Toad series of books written by Arnold Lobel.  I love these stories. It was fun to see how the play showed parts of many of the stories in the series.

Writing a letter to each other is one way they talked about how to be a good friend.  Toad said that he had never received a letter, so Frog wrote him a letter and gave it to the mailman, who is a snail! You get to see snail trying to get that letter to Toad in different scenes in the whole show.  Snail’s songs are super funny and are another favorite part of the show for me.  Snails are very slow and probably not the best choice for a mailman, but it sure was funny!  Snail’s costume was also my favorite!

My other favorite scene was when they went sledding. Frog convinced Toad to go, but Toad was scared.  Toad falls off and gets very mad at Frog for making him go. Then Frog makes him laugh and it is all better. It may not sound like it, but it is actually a very funny scene!

I got to go on and behind the stage after the show with the Stage Manager and her crew. It was so cool to see the set up close. I got to meet the people who make the things on the sets work and they showed me how they do everything. I really liked figuring out how Toad made his cookies so fast (Hint: He did not actually bake them) and how the sled moved all around with the actors who played Frog and Toad on it. I also got to see how they moved the leaves up and down on the trees and how they make it snow. SO COOL!

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My very favorite part of the whole thing backstage was going in the green room to meet the actors and ask them questions to share with all of YOU! Here are my questions and some of their answers:

  • When did you start acting? Most of them started in elementary school or junior high in some way, but got serious about it in high school.
  • How long does it take you to learn your lines? They have 3 weeks of rehearsals from 10a to 5p and some of them learn their lines quicker than others.
  • What is your favorite thing about this play? Their answers were that it is a “celebration of friendship”, teaches what a good friend is, costumes and music
  • Who is your favorite character in Frog and Toad and Why? Most said the characters they are playing because they get to know them so well. Jon Gentry the actor who plays Toad, said that even if he was not Toad, Toad would still be his favorite because Toad is “Loyal, finicky, picky and not perfect”.
  • What is your advice for kids who want to be in plays? Most said “Take classes!” and “Study!” and Christiann said “Pay attention to your school work because the best actors are smart actors!”  
  • How is the set built? It is designed by Jeff Thompson and built by John Emery. They said they have to draw pictures and use a lot of math and physics to figure out how to make it work. It looks like everybody who works on the play has to be smart and should take Christiann’s advice!
  • Are there musicians back here playing music? It sounds like it. The music was done in a recording studio with musicians many years ago when they first put this play on and now they use a CD of that recording. Alan Ruch was the Music Director.
  • Will you ever do a Pokemon play? I was told that if a good Pokemon play was written, it would be considered. I was told that I should write one! Now I can add “playwright” to the list of things I want to be when I grow up! I really would love to see a Pokemon play!

You should all come out and see this play! Kids, parents and grandparents will all love it!

Here is important information on the people who make this awesome show happen from Childsplay’s official press release:

A Year with Frog and Toad features an all-star cast of Valley favorites:  Dwayne Hartford (Frog), Jon Gentry (Toad), David Jones (Snail/Bird/Lizard/Father Frog/Mole), Yolanda London (Bird/Turtle/Squirrel/Mother Frog/Mole), and Christiann Thijm (Bird/Mouse/Squirrel/Young Frog/Mole).

Musical Director:  Alan Ruch

Choreographer:  Molly Lajoie, Based on original choreography by Michael Barnard

Scenic Design:  Jeff Thomson

Costume Design: Karen Ann Ledger

Hair & Makeup Design:  D. Daniel Hollingshead

Lighting Design:  Rick Paulsen

Sound Design:  Christopher Neumeyer

Projection Design: Anthony Runfola

Stage Manager:  Sarah G. Chanis

Andrew
Kid Reporter