Plano Children’s Theatre

by Donny on October 7, 2010

Plano Children’s Theatre

1301 Custer Road  #706

Plano, TX. 75075

(972) 422-2575

www.planochildrenstheatre.org

We were recently given free tickets to see a production of the play Androcles and the Lion at Plano Children’s Theatre. We had a bit of trouble finding the place. The theater is tucked away in the far left corner of the Pitman Corners shopping center behind all the other businesses and is not visible from the road. But we eventually found the place, got our tickets, and found our seats just before the play began.

Plano Children's Theatre

Plano Children's Theatre

If I were to base this review on my first impressions of the place and the play, it would not be good at all. They had chosen to have a twelve-year-old girl dressed in some sort of silver harlequin outfit to introduce the play and the other characters. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable. She bobbled several of her lines and had to pause to remember others. Those she did know well were delivered in an amateur manner. She may have done better than many kids her age, but let’s just say she was no Dakota Fanning. With that intro, I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Fortunately, the play quickly and dramatically improved when the girl sat down and the veteran actors took over. Androcles and the Lion tells the story of a slave named Androcles who helps a pair of young lovers get together after the girl’s miserly uncle locks her away in a tower and refuses to give the girl her dowry. Androcles rescues the girl by tricking “The Captain,” who the girl’s uncle has stationed outside her tower to stand guard over her. Later Androcles discovers where the rotten uncle, his master, has hidden the girl’s dowry. He takes it and goes off in search of the girl and her lover. Along the way, however, he discovers a lion who tries to eat him. But then the lion gets a thorn in its paw and Androcles decides to help it. Why are lions forever stepping on thorns and needing to be rescued by slaves or mice? Anyway, the idiot captain and the greedy uncle capture Androcles and take him to Rome to be eaten by a lion in front of the emperor. You guessed it. Androcles discovers that the lion they have picked to eat him is the very same lion he helped out earlier. The lion and the slave are both set free and the lovers are free to marry and enjoy the girl’s dowry. Yay, a happy ending!

The play was very funny, especially for children. The script was full of slapstick comedy. The actors did a great job of injecting humor into everything they did – the way they delivered their lines, their physical movements, and their facial expressions. The star of the show was Androcles of course. He was the oldest and most experienced of the actors and the children loved him. He really hammed it up for them. Our kids thoroughly enjoyed the play and after my initial reaction, I enjoyed it as well.

The Plano Children’s Theatre is not very big. It is located in an office suite in a shopping center. But despite that, it is still quite nice inside. And the actual theater has seating capacity for 212 people, which is really not bad. The staff at the theater were all professional and helpful.

There are four other productions coming this fall. “You Can’t Take It With You” is just finishing (August 13th – 21st). “Broadway-PCT” runs from September 10th thru 18th, “Broadway MYT” runs from September 17th thru the 26th, and Footloose will play from October 8th thru the 16th.

The main focus of Plano Children’s Theater, however, does not seem to be on its own professional productions. Rather, the emphasis of the theatre appears to be on training and developing talent in youth and giving them chances to shine in their own productions. They have several classes available over the rest of this year such as Home School Productions and Classes, Jeff Swearingen – Skills Class, Therapeutic Drama, Fall Major Productions, Theatre 360, Elementary Acting Classes, and Art Classes. You can also get private voice lessons with Cassidy Crown (one thirty minute lesson per week for $100.00 a month) or private piano lessons with Mose Pleasure III (also one thirty minute lesson per week for $100.00 a month).

For all you homeschoolers out there, there is a Home School Acting Skills class beginning on September 7th and running thru October 9th. The class meets every Tuesday from 1:00- 2:00pm.This is a ten week class to help your child develop scene work, improvisation skills, and improve their acting skills, of course. The kids will also be able to take part in theatre games. At the end of the class, the kids will put on a performance for family and friends during the first week of October. The class is for any kids, kindergarten age and up, and costs $80.00. That’s less than ten dollars a class. Not bad.

Also, your homeschool child has a chance to be a part of Plano Children’s Theatre’s first ever major production by home-schoolers – “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” It costs $200.00 for a child kindergarten age and up. Then you can add on siblings in the same age range for an additional $100.00 each. Rehearsals are from September 7th thru October 30th. The kids meet every Tuesday afternoon from 2:00- 3:30. The performances of the play run from December 9th thru 19th 2010.

Plano TX

Theatre

The Jeff Swearingen – Skills Class has two classes for you child to choose from. The acting class teaches scene work, improvisation, and theatre games. It meets on Monday nights from 7:00- 8:30. The second class, the Improvisation class, focuses its attention on long form improvisation. It meets on Tuesday nights from 6:00- 8:00. The two classes are designed for kids in grade five and above. They cost $180.00. Classes begin on September 7th.

There are four major fall productions at the Plano Children’s Theater this year (“Halloween Show, Godspell Jr. – Musical, Annie, Best Christmas Pageant Ever), and your child can be a part of them. A $35.00 non-refundable deposit will hold a place for your child in a production. After the casting results are announced, half of the tuition ($107.50) is due. The remaining $107.50 is due two weeks later. Each of the four major productions will put on eight performances. In addition to the tuition money, families are required to sell fifteen tickets to the production their child is in. Families will be given eight complimentary tickets to the play.

The “Halloween Show” is for kids in third grade and up. Kids will get to play classic spooky characters like Dracula, Mummies, Witches, and Zombies. It costs $250.00 total ($35.00 + $107.50 + $107.50).  Rehearsals for “Halloween Show” will start on August 30th. Kids meet for rehearsals on Mondays from 5:00pm till 7:00pm. Performances of the play begin on October 22nd and run through October 30th.

“Godspell Jr.,” a musical, is the next major fall production. “Godspell”is much similar in its theme as the popular musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which appeared the year before “Godspell” came out. Performances of the play begin on November 12th and continue on through November 20th. Rehearsals begin on September 13th and meet on Mondays from 6:00- 8:00pm. Kids in the fifth grade and above may join the play. The cost is the same as for “Halloween Show” and the other productions.

The third major fall production, “Annie” is based on the beloved story of little orphan Annie and how she changes the life and heart of the wealthy Oliver Warbucks. Performances begin on December 3rd and run through December 11th. Rehearsals begin on September 10th and are held at 5:00 till 6:30 on Fridays. The play is intended for kids in the second grade and above.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is the last production of the year. If your kids are anything like mine, they probably won’t have to do much acting to score a part in this production about creatively naughty children in a Christmas play. The performances run from December 10th thru the 18th. Rehearsals start September 15th and are held from 6:00pm till 8:00pm on Wednesdays. The cost is $250.00 like the other plays.

Theatre 360 is a thorough, twelve-week course intended to teach sixth graders and older, about all the aspects of the theatre. Kids will be trained in areas such as music, acting, dancing, tech theatre, costuming, and theatre combat fighting. Theatre 360 classes begin on Thursday, September 9th and run from 6:00pm till 8:00 pm. The cost for this twelve-week course is $180.00

Elementary Acting Classes are deigned for children in kindergarten thru sixth grade. Like Theatre 360, it is a twelve week course and costs $180.00. No acting experience is necessary. The children are taught basic acting skills using classical favorite children’s stories such as Curious George, Frog and Toad, Fancy Nancy, Amelia Bedilia, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Shrek, Broadway Babies, and Junie B. Jones. Performances will be held on the weeks of December 6th and 13th.

There are two art classes available this fall. Both of them cost $150.00 and run for ten weeks. The first is called Art Classes and is taught by Florence Olsen. It is intended for elementary children in kindergarten thru sixth grade. Classes begin the week of September 6th. First and second grade students will meet on Tuesdays from 4:15pm till 5:15pm and third thru sixth grade students will meet on Tuesdays from 5:30pm till 6:45pm. No experience is necessary. Children will learn all about drawing fundamentals and the use of watercolors. At the end of the course each child will use what they have learned to create their own painting. The other art class, The Art of Illustration Workshop taught by Steffie Brouillette inspires children aged six through ten with the art of great children’s illustrators like Maurice Sendak and Eric Carle. The children also get to learn about collage, colored paper tulip making, painting, ink illustration, and printmaking techniques. At the end the children’s artwork will be bound in a journal which may be kept by the students. The class meets on Saturdays from 10:00am-12:00pm, and runs from September 11th thru November 13th. In addition to the course fee, there is a ten dollar fee for materials.

Finally, there is the Therapeutic Drama class which is designed for special needs people ages eight thru adult. The Therapeutic Drama has a specially written play for these special people. The course costs $100.00. Class starts on September 7th and meets on Tuesday nights from 7:00pm till 8:00pm. At the end of the course a performance will be given to friends and family of the students during the month of December.

If you care about encouraging the arts, particularly in the lives of our youth, you can help by giving tax-deductible donations to the Plano Children’s Theatre. They would really appreciate donations of the following items: copy paper, art supplies, cfold paper towels, janitorial supplies, boom box with cd player, black paint, white paint, butcher paper, power tools, and of course, cash.

If you have a child in your home who is at all interested in acting, singing, drawing, or the theater, you should really check into one of the classes at the Plano Children’s Theatre. You can find out more by calling them at (972) 422-2575 or by visiting their website at www.planochildrenstheatre.org. It could be a really meaningful and important experience in the life of your child.

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