CBACT's 2009 Children's Theatre Festival
by the Consortium of Boston Area Children's Theatres

Watertown Children's Theatre's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Photo by Luz Garcia Griego.Not content with rallying the states together to launch the American Revolution, now Boston is leading the way toward uniting youth theatres – an effort to support one another, network, share resources, and showcase local youth theatre with their annual Children’s Theatre Festival. It’s an idea initiated by Steve Smith of Arlington Children’s Theatre and Chris Lowey of The Un-Common Theatre Company, and now uniting several participating theatres for the this second festival hosted by Watertown Children’s Theatre and the Arsenal Center for the Arts. If you’re interested in learning more about CBACT or looking into forging a larger consortium from other areas, please contact Steve Smith at

The festival consists of workshops and one-hour theatre performances, including…

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
by Concord Youth Theatre

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang have been a part of most everyone’s earliest memories for more than fifty years, first through George Schultz’s comic strip, later through animated specials and, of course, musical stage shows beginning with You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which was brought to CBACT stage by Concord Youth Theatre and Director Carly Evans

They feature an impressive group of performers led by Alex Parrish as Charlie Brown himself, and he has an excellent knack for the lonesome loser with timing and unassuming humor. Making absolutely sure Charlie Brown never gets delusions of grandeurs is his obnoxious nemesis Lucy, with Amy Nosowitz dominating as an amusingly intimidating bratty would-be princess. Speaking of delusions of grandeur, Eliza Earle steals her scenes as a creative and melodramatic Snoopy who loves her some Suppertime and confronts the dreaded Red Baron, leaving us laughing and hanging on every harrowing, dark-and-stormy-night sort of moment in the air battle over France. 

Speaking of harrowing, imagine suddenly coming to grips with the futility of jumping rope, or realizing the horror of fallen ice cream, or discovering that a prized snowflake brought to class for show-and-tell has…has…has not quite survived? Julia Pleasants is a delightful Sally with a great feel for youthful charisma, optimism, mannerisms, and dealing with her own version of harrowing moments. Not to mention a little crush on Linus, with Stephen LaConte as wise-beyond-his-years Linus struggling with his blanket addiction (and turning his intervention into an imagined chorus of fellow blanket lovers) while delivering a remarkably insightful book report on Peter Rabbit. As Schroeder, Sam Petrie also gives a less scholarly but entertainingly melodramatically report on the same book with a Robin Hood-ish flavor. While Alina Meltaus is a tomboyish Peppermint Patty and John Hooper a happily unkempt Pig Pen. The group of them deliver some amusing and wistful ensemble numbers, incorporating a bit of Peanuts’ classic dancing that is always a source of Happiness

They must have enjoyed their exploration of the Peanuts characters as much as the audience did, as they’ve got the sequel musical Snoopy set for this October.

~ Cast ~
Charlie Brown: Alex Parrish
Linus: Stephen LaConte
Lucy: Amy Nosowitz
Sally: Julia Pleasants
Snoopy: Eliza Earle
Schroeder: Sam Petrie
Peppermint Patty: Alina Meltaus
Marcie: Michela Deck
Pig Pen: John Hooper
Woodstock: Daniela Caesar-Roden

Director: Carly Evans
Music Director: Jane Raithel
Set Director: Ryan DuBray
Costumes: Lisa Evans

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
by Watertown Children's Theatre

Next up was Watertown Children’s Theatre’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, a more recent adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic written by Tim Kelly. Director Jennifer Salvucci’s cast of 10 – 14 year olds and their group of designers threw this whole thing together in just two weeks and pulled it off surprisingly well.

In this take, a high school is putting on a show called “Knights of the Round Table,” but when history and science lover Hank gets knocked out by a stage manager named Hercules, Hank wakes to find himself in King Arthur’s court with Merlin is trying to have the Yankee executed for being a dragon. Whether it’s a dream mor just one of those freak things, Hank starts doing some quick thinking and making the most of his situation, not only saving his life but turning Camelot into a major and cutting-edge corporation.

The younger cast is led by Raphael Stigliano as quick-thinking Hank who is soon introducing this quirky court of Camelot to the telephone, motorcycles, sweat suits, jogging and, “Hey, check this out!” he says as he starts using a comb on his hair. Emily McCarthy is the deep-thinking King Arthur who is intrigued but wary of his new guest, Chloe Adler is his curious Queen Guinevere who finds all the new changes quite exciting, Jennifer Gately is the humorous, not-too-bright showoff Sir Sagamore who doggishly discovers his love for playing “fetch,” Sophie Landa is the more serious knight Sir Lancelot, Sophia Einis is a fun and fairly bloodthirsty little Court Jester, and Devon Carter is always eager to educate the people on new terms and inventions (and very sensitive about his job performance). And then there are the three ladies in waiting given to screaming about dragons and such – Sara O’Connell is Lady Kay, Emily Tan is the giggly Lady Dinadin, and Allie McNabb is the sweet Lady Alisande/Sandy who Hank may be kinda sweet on – all of which make a quick and great transition from ladies in waiting to receptionist and customer service reps.

But it’s not all fun and office work. There might be some real dragons lurking about the kingdom. Like Emma McGlashen as a wicked and determined Merlin and Miriam Hamburger as a dryly disdainful Morgan Le Fey who is irritated by this new Connecticut Yankee throwing a comb into their very dastardly, not so magical plans.

~ Cast ~
High School Student #1: Sara Schiller-Robins
High School Student #2: Sophie Pels
Hank: Raphael Stigliano
Hercules: Kevin Viola
Mrs. Benvie: Bridget Fehily
Casey: Elil Saltzman
High School Student #3: Renee Joyce
High School Student #4: Molly Lowrie
High School Student #5: Molly Day
High School Student #6: Devon Carter
Lady Dinadin: Emily Tan
Lady Alisande: Allie McNabb
Lady Kay: Sara O'Connell
Sir Lancelot: Sophie Landa
Court Jester: Sophia Einis
Merlin: Emma McGlashen
Clarence: Kayla Seeger
King Arthur: Emily McCarthy
Queen Guinevere: Chloe Adler
Sir Sagamore: Jennifer Gately
Seymour: Sophie Pels
Denton: Molly Lowrie
Hudsley: Devon Carter
Morgan Le Fey: Miriam Hamburger
Old Woman: Sara Schiller-Robins
Market Trader: Eli Saltzman
Sandy: Allie McNabb

Director: Jennifer Salvucci
Stage Manager Intern/Fight Choreographer: Natasha Pratt
Set Designer: Peyton Pugmire
Sound Designer: Natasha Pratt 

42nd Street
by Riverside Theatre Works

There’s another sort of magic going on at Riverside Theatre Works. The magic of musical theatre in its early days with 42nd Street. Knocking out this abbreviated version of the show filled with such immortal classics as We’re in the Money, The Lullaby of Broadway, and the big title tune. And their young cast does a great job with them. 

Two of the roles are double-cast, switching actors later in the show. Peggy Sawyer is the new chorus girl who gets a break to take on the lead role when older, poor dancing prima donna Dorothy Brock literally breaks her leg during a dance (an injury blamed on Peggy). Monika Cormack is wide-eyed Peggy Sawyer who gives her dreams a shot with a nice mix of meekness, determination, and good dancing. An exuberant Maddy Hoy takes over the role as the director in the show talks her into staying with The Lullaby of Broadway and she prepares to go on her big debut as a Broadway lead. Barbara Woodall opens as Dorothy Brock with a great, confident superiority about her as she coolly makes her demands, dances with realistic badness, and makes shadow puppets in her spotlight dance (including having one shadow puppet bird gobble up another). Hope Banach comes on later in the role, just in time to have her leg broken, and then delivers a good About a Quarter to Nine acting workshop with her rival Peggy Sawyer. 

Elsewhere, Garrett Sager is a fun, confident, charismatic young Julian Marsh, the famous Broadway director, who is clearly comfortable commanding the stage and his performers. Griffin Lloyd is an earnest, determined, Young and Healthy Billy Lawlor. Rose Zilla-Ba delivers as a talented and driven choreographer Andrea Lee who pushes a great group of chorus girls tapping their way through successful big numbers including Getting Out of Town, The Lullaby of Broadway, and even dancing through various wardrobe malfunctions in We’re in the Money. 

~ Cast ~
Peggy Sawyer: Monika Cormack / Maddy Hoy
Dorothy Brock: Barbara Woodall / Hope Banach
Andrea Lee: Rose Zilla-Ba
Beatrice: Emma Pred-Sosa
Maggie: Rachel Barkowitz
Annie: Tansy Massey-Green
Lorraine: Emilia Onthank
Phyllis: Kate Swain-Smith
Ethel: Colette Nourie
Gladys: Gwen Curtis
Diane: Renee Padell
Mac: Debbie Jacques
Frankie: Jen Tegnell
Oscar/Waiter/Doctor: Shareen Alsebai
Thug/Gangster: Gracelyn Bullard
Billy Lawlor: Griffin Lloyd
Julian Marsh: Garrett Sager
Abner Dillon: Bocar Zilla-Ba
Pat Denning: Adrian Haber

Taming of the Shrew
by Arlington Children's Theatre

Day Marcucci and Nicholas Nudler. Photos by Luz Garcia Griego.Then it’s time to brush up our Shakespeare with three scenes from The Taming of the Shrew courtesy of Arlington Children’s Theatre, the three scenes depicting when the shrew Katherine and the potential shrew tamer Petruchio first meet, one of his attempts to tame her, and the show’s concluding scene. Director Matt Lundeen has set his piece in a 1940s nightclub where Kate is a singer. Not one you want to tick off. 

Day Marcucci is a thoroughly intimidating Katherine who transforms nicely and believably into a woman willing to defer to her husband’s wishes with a sincerity and confidence. As Petruchio, Nicholas Nudler is a swaggeringly cocky gold-digger, and quite successful in it. 

The scenes only give us brief glimpses of the other characters, but they include an amusingly melancholy widow (Zoey Michaels), her much calmer and romantically inclined sister Bianca (Ginny Chesson), Lance Mahon as her suitor Lucentio, David Atkins as Hortensio, Joseph Del Ponte as Grumio, Robert Waters as the father Baptista, and an amusing Tranio. The cast follows it up with an impressive talkback exploring the difficulty of taking on Shakespeare and how modern society feels about the misogyny explored in the show.

~ Cast ~
Petruchio: Nicholas Nudler
Kate: Day Marcucci
Lucentio: Lance Mahon
Hortensio: David Atkins
Widow: Zoey Michaels
Grumio: Joseph Del Ponte
Bianca: Ginny Chesson
Baptista: Robert Waters

Director: Matt Lundeen
Stage Manager: Mari Watson
Costumes: Kathy Czeck and James Del Ponte

Improv Soup Troupe
by The Un-Common Theatre Company

The festival concludes with The Un-Common Theatre Company’s Improv Soup, and it ends on a high note as the talented, versatile performers have to be quick on their feet as they play several improvisational games of the sort that may be seen on Who’s Line Is It Anyway, reacting to each other and suggestions from the audience for a number of hilarious moments. 

These moments include a memorable trip to Candyland, an intrepid voyage into the world of Dora the Explorer (which, for one of the cast ends up being “the worst multicultural experience I’ve ever had”), and a spelling bee featuring made-up words from the audience (one audience member so excited to get called upon for her word that the emcee asks, “Why are you bouncing?”), with the contestants doing their utmost to spell the words with some assistance, such as the “demon” contestant asking if the word could be spelled out in blood. Or dead people. 

In the end, a terrific way to finish up this well-rounded youth theatre festival and a great glimpse into the talent-filled Boston area. 

~ Cast ~
Kwaku Achaempong
Tyler Appel
Paige Barry
Lee Cohen
Michaela Driscoll
David Getz
Lloyd Hewitt
Ashley Goverman
Abby Kopel
Emily Levine
Meg Lowey
Joe Marino
Eric Pederson
Josh Primiano
Sarah Shear
Jules Toback

Director: Christa Crewdson

Performed July 18, 2009

Photos by Luz Garcia Griego

Rob Hopper
Executive Director
National Youth Theatre


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