“The Boy Who Loved Monsters & The Girl Who Loved Peas” – Reviewed by Nate

Do you like monsters? Do you like peas? Do you like a crazy play full of imagination and color and fun? Well then, I have the perfect play for you! Come and see the The Boy Who Loved Monsters & The Girl Who Loved Peas! It’s an exciting play! This is why I think that.

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First, when you walk into the theater, you see a house of colors and imagination. The wallpaper has fun and exciting monsters and the doors and windows are crooked and bended, and that makes it fun and really cool. Also another detail is everything is full of bright colors and the lights keep changing colors, too. Many things in your imagination may be weird and crazy, but not as crazy as Evan’s imagination!

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Speaking of Evan, I might as well get into the characters. The characters were Tyler Eglen as Evan, Michelle Cunneen as his sister Sue, Debra K. Stevens as Mommy, Mel Reid Glotfelty as Daddy and Katie McFadzen as the Monster. But not a scary monster. A really cool monster!

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In the beginning, the family is eating dinner. Little sister Sue loves peas. EVAN DOES NOT! But he needs to eat his dinner and that last pea. Mom and Dad are too busy playing with their smart phones and iPad. And Evan wishes that he can have a monster to come play with him, and eat his peas for him, and eat his parents because they never play with him!

As Evan’s imagination grows bigger, the pea grows bigger and bigger and bigger on his plate…and then turns into the monster he’s always wished for.

When I went backstage, I even got to pretend my head was the pea on Evan’s plate!

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The monster (named Pea!) becomes Evan’s friend and helps Sue and Evan use their imaginations to have fun and play games. One cool part of the play is when Pea uses the tablecloth to show them different games like using it as Dracula’s costume, or wearing it like a ghost, or making it into a fort, or using it for a bull fighter’s cape!

Also, there is a giant trunk of toys and Evan and Sue arrange them in a circle to go back to Pea’s home in monster land. But they come back!

In the end, Pea and the kids show their parents that it’s more important to have fun and play with the family than to be addicted to technology and always watching YouTube videos, playing Mario or sending emails all the time.

Come a little early, there are fun activities to do before the show. My favorite activity was using your own hand to make a monster hand out of foam and colorful shapes. It was very fun!

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I loved this play and I hope you do too. It is everything you need to step into the world of monsters and let your imagination go crazy.

Drawing by Nate Fox

Nate
Kid Reporter

Nate reviews “Junie B. Jones”

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Hi, I’m Nate Fox, Kid Reporter for Childsplay! I just saw the play Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! I thought it was really funny because all the actors were super old but they had to act like first graders. But they used high school desks for them so that they could fit. It was also funny because Junie B. kept saying words wrong like first graders do a lot!

The play was mainly set in an elementary school classroom and was about Junie B. Jones (Kate Haas) and how she had to deal with another girl, May (Kaleena Newman), who was her arch-enemy and the worst tattletale in first grade! Worst of all, Junie B. had picked May’s name for the Secret Santa Party. Oh, no!

The funniest prop of all was the Squeeze-a-Burp. It was made from a piece of plastic that the actors pretended to squeeze to make the noise. But actually the noise was made by the sound guy who recorded a bunch of giant burps and used a button to make it come over the speakers whenever the actors squeezed it!

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There were lots of characters in the play including Classroom One teacher, Mr. Scary (Dwayne Hartford) and the music teacher (Jon Gentry) whose name was really funny because he was called Mr. Toot!become a kid reporter

There was a cool part of the play that they added which was a flashback to another Junie B. Jones book called Shipwrecked. In that part, we learned how Junie B. and May had argued and fought over whose ship was the fastest and this was the beginning of how they grew to not like each other very much.

So, why should you go see this play? Well, first of all, the play happens around Christmas, the season of giving. There’s lots of laughter and fun and cool characters and sets and in the end Junie B. learns some valuable lessons about how it’s better to give than receive and not be mean.

When I went backstage, I got to see how they made all the sets drop in and fly out. There were 2 ropes on each section. And if you pulled the front rope it dropped things. If you pulled the back rope it pulled stuff up to make it disappear. Also, did you know that the toys at the holiday gift shop are actually real toys!!

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One special character in the play is Junie B.’s favorite stuffed elephant named Philip Johnny Bob (voice by Tyler Eglen) who talks to her about the holiday presents and makes her think about the decisions she’s about to make.

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Also, all the activities in the lobby were fun to do while we were waiting for the show, because you got to make your own Junie B. Jones glasses. And you could make your own jingle bells song. It was so much fun.

Here’s mine!!!  jingle bells

Transcription: Junie B. Jinglizer! Created by the Fox Family.  Rolling through the snow in a 6 horse open sleigh. Over the desert we go, blubbering all the way! Door and cowbells ring, making spirits shine! What fun it is to joke and sing a silly song tonight!

Nate
Kid Reporter

Sophie Reviews “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane”

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How would you like to take a journey on a ship, inside a fishing net, around a garbage dump, aboard a railroad car, dangling from puppet strings, and through a doll shop—all in two hours?  You can do it all while not even moving an inch, if you go to the Childsplay production of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  The play is based on the book written by Kate de Camillo. It is about a well-dressed china rabbit named Edward Tulane. He lives with a little girl named Abilene, until one fateful day…SPLOOSH! Edward is tossed into the ocean and begins an adventure that helps the selfish rabbit to understand love.

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Edward goes by many names on the way, such as Malone, Jangles, and Susanna.  Along with each new name, his wardrobe becomes stranger and stranger. He also gains new friends that open his heart. When he finally gets home, he is a different rabbit!  At home, Edward didn’t think of much besides his looks but after his trip around the world, he learns that there is more to life than attire.

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Did you know that they used 7 different Edwards in the play? It’s true! (One of the Edward versions looked cracked all over, but later I found out that the cracks were only painted on). Even though there were multiple Edwards, I was amazed that the whole play was cast with only four other actors.  I interviewed the actors and asked them what their favorite part of the play is.  Debra K. Stevens, who played Abilene and several other characters, likes the end the best.  Kyle Sorrell, the voice of Edward, enjoyed watching Debra play Lucy the dog .  Edward didn’t answer, of course, since he is only a china rabbit.

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If you are lucky enough to go backstage, like I did, it is as if you have entered your own miraculous journey.  You can see everything, from the crows to the chairs used in the play. I learned that they made the various backdrops using just one screen and a projector. They backstage area is small, but they use the space well.

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The play was outstanding! Just remember to bring some tissues for the emotional moments. I am sure you will love The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

Sophie
Kid Reporter

Uncovering the Webs

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Salutations!

Imagine you’re going to the theater. Thick carpet is under your feet as you briskly walk into the double glass doors of the Tempe Center for the Arts. It is daytime and in Arizona that means the sun is very, very bright.   A lot of kids are gathered around a table. It is an activity table for you to learn how to make your own web.  Twisting and looping yarn and pipe cleaners to form a simple web is not easy.  How does Charlotte do it?  How does Charlotte make a web that fills the top of a barn with such ease?  The answer is easy.  She is a spider made by E.B. White and she is flowing with experience, talent, generosity, and this fall she lives at Childsplay.

All the unique details of this show make it a “terrific” experience.  Spider web cutouts light the closed drape to signify the importance of Charlotte’s web.  As they open an amazingly realistic set captures the taste of a traditional barn.  But the secret is that it is also a child’s playhouse. In the playhouse lives a naive pig, a scholarly sheep, a flibbertigibbet goose, a snarky rat, and an agile spider.

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I read Charlotte’s Web in Third Grade. I liked it because it had many details and made a picture in my mind.  The story starts with one little girl saving a little pig and by this one action a story unfolds that no matter how small you are you can change anything.   I am small so I like that idea!

When the audience sees Fern for the first time she is sitting, swinging her legs on the second floor of the set, but once she adopts Wilber she is too busy being a mother to stop.  Before Kyle Sorrell wonderfully portrays Wilber he is an adorable, little puppet acted by Fern.  This is one of the cutest moments in the play.  Katie Haas makes the puppet live.  Hungrily, he reaches for his bottle.  He is a bottomless pig who makes everybody in the audience giggle.  We love Wilber before he speaks.

Another interesting choice is that the actors who play Fern’s family are also the animals.  Just like in the Wizard of Oz, Fern uses the people from her usual life to take on the roles of her new, best friends. It shows how they are already family.

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When Wilber moves to the Zuckerman farm we meet all the animals, but we wait to meet Charlotte.  Her web fills the top floor of the barn.  It is a character, too.   It is Charlotte’s voice we hear first.  The voice is merry and wise.  Charlotte and Debra K. Stevens, who plays her, need balance to weave the words into the web. The words Charlotte uses to describe Wilber also define her (except for the “some pig” part).

As a Childsplay Kid Reporter I get the opportunity to go backstage, see the set, and interview the actors. Here are some secrets:  The straw is actually carpet mixed with other fabrics.  There’s an elephant door, but no elephants.  An elephant door is a gigantic door used long ago when circuses would have elephants come onstage.  Also, the Tempe Center for the Arts is not one building, but many buildings combined in one.

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Since I thought the actors were well chosen for their roles I asked them what they had in common with their characters.  Some of them shared their similar characteristics. Kate Haas, who plays Fern, “loves animals” and likes “to talk to them.” Jon Gentry “likes dumps” just like his character Templeton.  Drew Swaine, Fern’s energetic brother, loves to “jump off things and catch bugs,” too.  Farmer Zuckerman, Danny Karapetian, likes “to take care of animals.” Yolanda London, Mrs. Zuckerman, believes “six dollars is a lot of money” to spend on a little pig.  While Katie McFadzen, the Goose, shared she “could be a little flighty, too.”

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Some of the other questions I asked the actors were “What do you want the audience to enjoy?”  “Me,” proclaimed Templeton (Jon Gentry) and everyone laughed.   I also asked how this production was different from the other productions of Charlotte’s Web.    “In one production, the adults were only on a screen.  You could only see them from the hemline of their dress to their head.” I think it is better to see the adults, because it makes them more of a family and adds to the emotion of the play.

I think the best answer to my questions was from Kyle Sorrell.  When I asked everyone what they would change if they directed the play, in a proper Wilbur manner, Kyle Sorrell said, “Charlotte lives.” After a moment he added, “Though it would ruin the story.” He was right.  It is one of the saddest, but best details of the story and the play. But that is what makes a great web…all the details.

Your friend,

Spencer
Kid Reporter

Lucas Reviews “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”

“As your body grows bigger, your mind grows flowers, it’s great to learn, ‘cause knowledge is power!  Schoolhouse Rocky, a chip off the block.  Your favorite schoolhouse, Schoolhouse Rock!”  Back in the early 1970’s David McCall’s son was having difficulty with multiplication at his school and yet knew the lyrics to current rock songs.  This gave David McCall an idea to make a song that had the multiplication lyrics in it.  He believed this would help his son learn multiplication facts easier.  The first song for Schoolhouse Rock! Was “Three is a Magic Number.”  There were a total of 46 songs that aired on ABC from 1973-1989.  Most of the songs were based on folk or jazz music because that was popular at the time.

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Since Schoolhouse Rock! is so old, Childsplay Theatre decided to update quite a bit of the show.  For example, songs weren’t jazz and folk music, but instead different types of rock music were used without changing the lyrics.  The set design to this play was based on Tetris and Minecraft.  The reason Childsplay Theatre did this was so that it would be like any other thing a kid might see today.photo3

The cast had a variety of different shaped blocks that were used to move, sit or stand upon to build props.  They even took imaginary selfies, which sounds a bit weird, but made the play more modern.

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The cast members were two men and two women.  In the play, three of the cast members were all supposed to be a part of the fourth member’s mind, will and emotions.  This man was a teacher who was scared to go to his first day of school.  He was afraid that he wouldn’t do a very good job and wouldn’t know enough information to teach the students.  Early in the morning the teacher turned on the television and was watching an episode of Schoolhouse Rock!.  Three people popped out of the television.   This both surprised and amazed the teacher.  He thought he was possibly going mad (also known as crazy).  The three people explained to him that they were all different parts of him and would help him prepare for the day.

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When I interviewed the actors, this is what I learned:

  1. Good theatre, in the actor’s opinions, is when there’s “honesty” in the performance, good storytelling, and when it keeps you thinking after the performance is over.
  2. I learned that they had to learn in order to do the play.
  3. One of the actor’s favorite songs is “Bill” because it’s the song he remembers most from when he was a kid.  Another actor likes “Preamble” the best because she actually used that song in school, and that’s what Schoolhouse Rock! is all about – helping kids remember those facts in school.
  4. The cast worked well together because they all had different talents that helped them to make the play great.

I could tell that the cast really enjoyed each other and they had a good sense of humor.  I think they did a really good job on the performance.  I enjoyed it and it was one of the best plays I’ve seen.

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Lucas
Childsplay Kid Reporter

Review of “Super Cowgirl and Mighty Miracle”

By Lily Fox, Childsplay Kid Reporter, Age 7.

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Should you go see Childsplay’s Super Cowgirl and Mighty Miracle?  Yuppy puppy!  I don’t think I blinked during this entire play.  If you are a parent, you might cry, because it is deep and emotional and kinda sad too, but it is not sad at the end.  My mom cried and so did other people.  It is about a girl who wants to be a cowgirl and a stray dog she finds.  She has to go to her grandma’s house because her dad doesn’t have enough money to pay the mortgage on their house.  I had to ask my mom about this, and she explained that this is what the grandma is talking about when she says the bank steals people’s houses.  It is a new play, and it was written by Jose Cruz Gonzalez.  When I interviewed them after the show, the cast members said that it was very exciting to perform a new play and it was different every time they performed it.

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I think this play is really important because it helps young children realize that there are lots of different kinds of families.  Do you have a family that is not a “picture book” family?  The girl, Cory (played by Osiris Cuen), is living with her grandma (Chanel Bragg) instead of with a dad and mom, and that works as a family too, even if it is hard at first for the grandma and Cory.  When I interviewed the actors, Chanel Bragg said she came from a family that was big and loud in a good way, and all the other cast members came from big families too, but they could understand what it was like to be in a small family.   I think it was also important that the story took place in a kinda bad neighborhood (there are scary dogs loose there), because kids need to see all kinds of neighborhoods in plays and stories.  Some of the themes were a little bit scary, but the show itself wasn’t too scary for little kids.

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It was also funny.  For instance, Grandma Autumn gave Cory some chicken soup and she kept saying it was “chicken poooooooop.”  And did you know that when Cory asked for Tabasco Sauce, they used real Tabasco Sauce?  She doesn’t actually eat it, though.  During the backstage tour and interview, I also learned that there are actually four different hats for Grandma Autumn’s church hat (the hat is important in the plot).   They need to be different in different parts of the story and they couldn’t change just one hat fast enough.  Here’s how the dog (played by Carlos Lara) wags his tail:  he actually has a seatbelt attached to a piece of cardboard that is attached to a wire, so if he moves his behind, his tail wags.  He was really good at acting like a dog!  His woof sounded like a real dog.

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It is too bad this play isn’t showing for a longer time, because I think lots of kids should see it.  My family is not the “picture book” kind either, and this was one of my favorite Childsplay plays ever!

Lily
Childsplay Kid Reporter

Review of Childsplay’s “The Cat in the Hat”

By Lily Fox, Age 7

Did you know that only one of the actors in the current production of “The Cat in the Hat” has a cat? Debra Stevens, who plays Thing One, has a naughty cat. I found this out when I got to go backstage and interview the actors. I have a cat too and that’s one of the main reasons I particularly liked “The Cat in the Hat.” I think you should go see this play because I bet it will make you laugh, and watching the play will make you feel like you are in the house with the Cat.

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Here are two things that I really liked about the play. The pantomimes in the play were funny and made the audience laugh a lot. I also liked the set because it seemed like the kites that Thing One and Thing Two were flying in the house were actually flying. They really had strings that were attached to them and some were hand-held and metal and stiff. When I went backstage I got to fly one and it was very fun. I bet the actors enjoy it. Also, here is a sneaky thing about the box for Thing One and Thing Two: there was actually a flap that the actors could get out of, which I wondered about because Katie McFadzen (who played the Cat) carried the box and I couldn’t believe it had two people inside! The machine that the cat uses to clean up the mess was also cool. It actually doesn’t drive on its own. One of the actors pushes it. Another part of the production I liked was the fish. They had a guy on stage (Ricky Araiza) using a puppet in a fishbowl to be the fish. He was dressed in an orange suit that made him look like the fish.

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So, how did they make the short poem and picture book into a long play? They used the pantomimes I talked about earlier. For instance, when Sally and her brother were in the window and bored, they tried to have fun with a bike, balls and other stuff, but it didn’t work. This was all done in pantomime. When the Cat says goodbye, he does a dramatic ballet dance exit, and one of the actors said that was their favorite part. Another thing the actors said was that it was very easy to memorize the rhyming lines in the play, but it was difficult too, because if you got something wrong the rhyme was over and the audience would know.

Although the play was the best part, I liked the Childsplay 360 activities because they were kind of fun to do while waiting for the play to start. There was one where you could make your own poem, for instance. These were great because little kids sometimes get bored waiting for the play to start. I know because I have done that.

Go see this play! Even if you are a dog person.

 Lily
Childsplay Kid Reporter

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