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For 34 years, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre has brought stories to life on the stage. From characters dressed in full costume, to creative stage designs, the stories magically transform into artistic entertainment for all ages. Each season brings new and entertaining shows for children and their families, and the upcoming 2013-14 season is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
This season features six main stage plays, which “represent a well-rounded lineup of productions diverse in style, subject matter and genre; there is a particular eye to contemporary titles and themes,” says theatre artistic director Bradley Anderson.
The 2013–14 season opens on Sept. 20 with “Pinkalicious,” a story about a little girl who loves pink cupcakes, and runs through Oct. 6. From Oct. 25 to Nov. 10, audiences can enjoy “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a story written by Keith Smith, the theatre’s resident playwright, based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “The Engine That Thought It Could” takes the stage from Nov. 29 to Dec. 15, with special holiday shows at 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
In the new year, audiences can enjoy a comical production of “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type,” a story based on Doreen Cronin’s book, from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9. From March 7-23, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” will be showing with special spring break matinees on March 18-21 at 2:00 p.m. The season closes with “Sleeping Beauty” on April 25 to May 11.
The Children’s Theatre also “transports the magic from the main stage to communities throughout Arkansas in three touring productions each year,” Anderson says. This year’s Children’s Theatre on Tour productions include “The Velveteen Rabbit,” Nov. 12 to Dec. 20; “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Feb. 13 to March 21; and, “The Engine That Thought It Could,” April 1 to May 9.
“By bringing performances to schools, libraries, festivals and more, the Children’s Theatre is able to fulfill its mission of offering quality arts experiences to communities throughout the entire state,” Anderson says.
In 1979, the Children’s Theatre “began as a professional organization to produce, both on the main stage and on tour, the finest theatre in the region,” says Anderson, who started the theatre, along with the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees. The goal has always been “producing a powerful, fun and exciting series of plays for young people and their families,” he says. Since the beginning, Anderson says the Children’s Theatre has “grown tremendously in size and scope, but stays true to its original mission: to respect the hearts and minds of children and offer shows that challenge and excite them.”
It takes a number of people working together to make each play a success. From actors and costume designers, to set designers, lots of people work together to bring each story to life on stage. According to Anderson, “a core of professional actors from across the country, as well as students who have been training in the summer theatre programs” are the actors in each play. Also, all costumes and sets are designed and constructed in house.
The Children’s Theater is located at 501 East Ninth St. in downtown Little Rock. Show times are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The tickets are $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members and $12.50 for non-members; season ticket packages are also available. For more information, call (501) 372-4000 or visit www.arkarts.com.
Jade Fitch is a freelance writer and editor. She earned her master of arts in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.