The Cat! The Cat in the Hat reviewed by Sawyer

I was so excited to share a birthday with the Cat in the Hat (the play) at Childsplay Theater

— of course, the Cat is 60 and I’m only 9 but it was still so much fun to report on this story that everyone knows and loves.

I hope you go see it with your family!


Sawyer’s Review of A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday

2016-11-20 12.54.33.jpgHi!

I’m Sawyer and I am so excited to tell you all about A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday!

It was a wonderful play with so much music and holiday cheer. I loved it! I also enjoyed meeting the cast and interviewing them. They are the nicest people and gave me great advice about becoming an actress!

Watch the video review to see why this play should be your family’s holiday outing this year!

Alex’s Review of Rock The Presidents

I loved Rock the Presidents!  Usually politics are boring, and campaign commercials are mean, but Rock the Presidents was totally FUN and AMAZING!  The video below will tell you all about it. I hope you watch it and then go see the play!

Alex- Kid Reporter for Childsplay Theatre

Hi I’m Noelle, Kid Reporter for Childsplay Theatre!

Noelle2.jpgJunie B. Jones is Not a Crook performed by Childsplay!

The play was amazing!

I used this Press Pass to take an exclusive backstage tour and interview the cast!

You can watch my Kid Reporter Video right here!

This video will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about the play. Will you watch it with your family? Then you can come to the next show and say “Hello!” ~ Noelle, Kid Reporter for Childsplay Theatre.

Noelle is a Kid Reporter for Childsplay Theatre, a member of the Family Review Team at & contributor at “Snacking with Joy!” at

Isabella’s Review of “Pete, Or the Return of Peter Pan”


Pete, or the Return of Peter Pan is an amazing adventure about mystical creatures and life lessons. Friendship, loyalty and teaching the importance of being humble are common themes in this modern day Neverland which is jam packed with Ninjas, Pirates and Dinosaurs! Wendy and Henry travel to Neverland and teach Peter how to be a better boy. “Peter is a lost boy who does not know how to do the right thing because he was never taught to do the right thing. He has no parents to guide him and is a tad bit selfish. He never really has to grow up.” says actor Gavin Austin Brown who’s boyish grin truly captures this spirit of Peter Pan.

Rebecca Duckworth who plays “Just Wendy” a descendant of the original Wendy, describes her character as, “Feisty and gets a little angry at times, but fights for what she believes in.” The actress says she can see some of herself in “Just Wendy”. In some ways so do I. I did Karate a few years back and a lot of people told me it was for boys. Someone told me I could not do cheerleading and karate. I fought back and said I could be both. In the play Wendy is furious when Peter tells her what she can and can’t do as a girl and takes credit for all her accomplishments in Neverland. It may surprise the audience that although she takes a windy path, in many ways Wendy becomes the hero.

Watching the two pirate ladies Anne Bonny and Mary Read in the play was hilarious. I got a real kick out of their slapstick style comedy routine. They were supposedly the antagonist, but were more funny than scary. This play is definitely ok for kids of all ages. Debra K. Stevens describes Anne Bonny as “not really evil, just a little goofy”. She says that she “loved saying those delicious piratey words and that it’s fun to play a bad guy sometimes”. Both Debra and Katie McFadzen (Mary Read) light up the stage even when the fairies were no-where to be found!


Now watch closely because these ladies play not two, but three parts in the production of Pete, or the Return of Peter Pan! It sounds like costume changes were a challenge. Katie McFadzen played my other favorite character, the cool grandmother who remembers Neverland…Or is just senile…it’s hard to tell. Katie describes her as, “A trippy, fun senior citizen lady”. The grandmother is like a care free version of professor Trelawney from Harry Potter!

There are more humorous surprises in this performance. In most versions of Peter Pan, Smee is considered of less than average intelligence, but in this version he outsmarted the pirates,“Just Wendy”, Henry and Peter Pan. Pay close attention to Smee. He comes up with a mischievous plan that you will find out when you watch this intriguing play!

As child reporter I was able to use my backstage pass to tour the amazing Neverland set. I got to slide or “fly” down into the Neverland set and holy shalupas it was crazy fast!  After safely landing on the ground we moved on to back stage and the props. It was awesome to see the tricks they came up with to make this performance over the top wonderful. I got to see the two phones,  one of which was smashed on arrival to Neverland forcing the kids to use their imagination for entertainment. Also, I saw both of Smee’s jackets. One was decked out with fairy lights.

Live theater is better than TV because it’s not perfect. There is no re-do if you make a mistake. For example, something imperfect that happened was that the clock was supposed to break, but it didn’t. They handled it like pros by continuing the show as if nothing went wrong. I did not think it was supposed to break. Live theater Ninja fighting can be dangerous as well. One of the warriors was hurt in a past show. Some of the scenes were changed to work around this, but you never would have known. The show must go on!


I asked the cast why they did Childsplay Theater. They has some very special reasons. Alan Khoutakoun, who plays Henry, is clearly comfortable on stage. During the back-stage interview he says he does Childsplay because he loves seeing the kids faces light up and to bring the characters alive. He also enjoys hearing what the kids say about the show in the question and answer section after each performance. Gavin Austin Brown, who plays Peter, thinks that it is very important for kids to be exposed to live theater.  Growing up he did not get that opportunity until 4th grade. “I saw the Velveteen Rabbit at Childsplay” he shared. He loved it and realized that it is what he wanted to do as a grown up! I am now in 4th grade and have been very lucky to be given the opportunity to see so many plays. Through my old school in Tempe we were able to see Childsplay Productions. I wish all kids in AZ had the chance to be part of something so special. If you get the chance you should definitely bring your kid to this show!

Looking back at this story it reminds me girls can do anything boys can do. I just took my  4th grade history test and learned that a lot of women did the work of men in WW2 when the men were away at war. When the war was over many women wanted to continue working. They learned they were capable of doing anything a man could do. This is a modern day Peter Pan and Wendy actually trained in Karate before she took the magic flight to Neverland and fought better than Peter Pan. Not a spoiler alert, I promise, but she “saved Peter” physically from the bad guy and may have saved him in another way by teaching him how to be a friend. I can relate to Wendy because many people underestimate kids, I am a kid, but I can be a reporter. I am glad that Childsplay gives the chance to report on fun plays like these!

P.S. Dwayne Hartford as incoming artistic director did an awesome job turning Pete, or the Return of Peter Pan into a modern day success.

Kid Reporter

Andrew’s Review of “Goodnight Moon”


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!


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!


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.


Andrew, Kid Reporter…signing out!

Elena’s Review of “Perô, or Mysteries of the Night”


Perô, or Mysteries of the Night is an unforgettable play with incredible actors and set designs. The play takes place in Italy. Perô, a humble baker, falls in love with a childhood friend named Colombina. Colombina is a lovely washer woman. With the help of the sun and the moon, Perô gets the courage to tell Colombina of his love for her. But when Palatino, a painter with a colorful personality, sweeps Colombina off her feet, Perô is heartbroken. Colombina and Palatino get married and go on a honeymoon. Colombina soon realizes that she doesn’t love Palatino, she loves Perô. Will Colombina go back to Perô? Go to the show to find out!


This show is truly amazing. I took a stage tour and I got to look around the set. The houses that Perô and Colombina reside in come apart! Cool, right? The actors have to work hard to move the puppets because the puppets are heavy. Also, the sun and the moon have to sing, act and play instruments. Triple threats!

I also interviewed the cast members.

Elena: What was your favorite song from the show?

Kristen (The Sun): Oh gosh, I love them all for different reasons but I love “White” because it’s so pretty. It’s when Colombina is deciding she’s going to go back and I get to dance with her.


Elena: Was it fun to learn how to pronounce Italian?

Dwayne (The Moon) Yeah.  I actually sang some songs in Italian in college so it was fun to get used to it again, and to get the rolling R’s going.


Elena: What was your favorite prop to work with?

Jon (Perô and Paletino):  Perô was my favorite prop.  One of my favorite props was the washing machine because it actually spins.  Other than Perô, I like turning the washing machine on and off.


Elena: What was your favorite line from the show?

Katie (Colombina): “I want to go home.”


Elena: Did you know how to play the piano, saxophone, percussion and flute before the show?

Kristen:  I knew how to play the piano a tiny little bit, and I majored in flute for one semester in college so I played it all my life.  I had to learn the sax, and the drums I just banged. The sax and flute have similar fingering so that made it a little easier.


Elena: How long did you have to rehearse?

Dwayne: I started working on the piano part about six months ago, practicing every day.  I studied piano growing up so I had a good foundation. I had to get my fingers back in shape.  I hadn’t played since we did the show the last time fifteen years ago.  The actual rehearsal time for the show was four weeks.


Elena: The show is really awesome and complex so why was it only open for two weekends?

 Jon:  It was the particular slot of the show. Sometimes slots are based on the idea that people are more likely to come to a show they know, like Charlotte’s Web, as opposed to a show they are not familiar with like this one.


Elena:  Was it hard to sing, play an instrument and act at the same time?

Dwayne: Yes.  Especially because the way the score was written, I was playing the piano but it was not the same melody line I was singing.  The piano might be playing up and I’m singing down, or the tempo is different.  It was really challenging for me. But not for Kristen – she’s a pro.

Kristen: No, it was hard for me, too.


Elena: What would your happily ever after be?

Jon: Sleeping at this moment in my life. I’m always tired at the end of the weekend.

Dwayne: Being with my dog and him living as long as I do and being able to eat ice cream every night and being with people that I love.

Kristen: I have two kids and I’m hoping I’m telling them the right things to make them wise and wonderful.  Making the right parenting choices and adulting choices.

Katie: World peace. 🙂


Perô, or the Mysteries of the Night is a must see show. The director, Onny Huisink, has created a masterpiece. I will leave you with one final thought. When you love someone, tell them. 🙂

Kid Reporter

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