Theater by and for youth

Enjoy a “Village of Idiots” without turning on cable news. Travel “Once Upon an Island” without leaving the desert. And ease on down the road with “The Wiz” without all that nasty road rage. It’s all coming soon to Valley stages…

Chris Disney, Devin Derr & Logan Barrett in "Winnie-the-Pooh" at Fountain Hills Community Theater

I’m heading out with Lizabeth this weekend to enjoy “Winnie-The-Pooh” performed by Fountain Hills Community Theater’s youth theater. It’s one of many shows being performed this weekend by youth and for youth (although adults who appreciate youth theater are always welcome too).

I always leave youth theater productions feeling inspired by the talent and hard work of the young actors and crew members (and their fearless adult leaders). Participating in youth theater fosters creativity, committment and collaboration — three things that serve our children well both on and off the stage.

Often it’s seeing that first live performance featuring young performers that inspires a child to give theater a try. If you’re eager to introduce your children or teens to community theater, you’ll have plenty to choose from in the coming weeks and months.

It's your last weekend to enjoy "The Emperor's New Clothes" by East Valley Children's Theatre in Mesa

This weekend is your last chance to see “The Emperor’s New Clothes” performed by East Valley Children’s Theatre at Mesa Arts Center. I saw the show last weekend and loved everything about it!

It’s also the final weekend for Creative Stages Youth Theatre’s production of “Some Kind of Wonderbread: Not a John Hughes Movie” — a Jim Gradillas peice described as a send-up of ’80s movies about the trials and tribulations of high school life.

VYT's "Pinkalicious" makes a fun birthday party outing

Valley Youth Theatre is having an incredible run with “Pinkalicious” — which has now been extended through Oct 31 at VYT in downtown Phoenix. It’s the tale of a little girl who takes her love of pink to the extreme, with some charming and funny results.

Asijah Adolph plays Dorothy in "The Wiz" opening soon at Greasepaint Youtheatre

“The Wiz,” performed by Greasepaint Youtheatre, opens next week for an Oct 22-31 run in Scottsdale. It features 32 young actors directed by D. Scott Withers, whose previous work with Greasepaint has earned several awards.

Samantha Pear, Maddie Lopez, Jade Schalk, Amaya Lim and Taylor Ellsworth (front) perform in MTA's "Once Upon an Island Jr." opening later this month

You’ll only have a small window of time to enjoy “Once Upon This Island Jr.” performed by Musical Theatre of Anthem — which runs just a few days (Oct 28-31). Children who attend the 3pm Halloween matinee of this Caribbean-theme adapatation of “The Little Mermaid” are invited to wear costumes and enjoy trick-or-treating with cast members.

Theater Works Youth Works, which performs at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, opens “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” on Nov 5. My daughter Lizabeth’s first community theater experience was performing in this show when it was presented a decade or so ago by Greasepaint.

I can still picture her hanging a fishing pole over the front of the stage, playing hop scotch, clapping along to a gospel tune, swiping a paintbrush across a white picket fence and crouching to make her way through a tunnel she found rather frightening at the time.

Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale presents Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” Nov 19 to Dec 19. See the touring production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” next week and you can enjoy comparing the two next month. (Garage sale fans can enjoy the “DST Grand Garage Sale” Fri, Oct 15 from 4-6pm and Sat, Oct 15 from 6am-noon.)

Come December you can enjoy “Village of Idiots,” a work based on several Jewish folk tales. It’s being performed by Curtain Call Youtheatre — which is affiliated with the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company — on Dec 11 and 12 only at the John Paul Theater at Phoenix College. (Watch for AJTC’s online auction coming Nov 1.)

Stay tuned to the daily online calendar from Raising Arizona Kids magazine to learn more about children’s activities on stage and off.

— Lynn

Note: If your school or community organization offers theater by and for youth, please stay in touch so I’ll have the scoop on your offerings as I’m preparing future posts.

Coming up: Community college arts offerings