Sarah’s Review of “Perô, or the Mysteries of the Night”

A few days after seeing Childsplay’s Perô, or the Mysteries of the Night, my daughter wants to go back and see it again. I, on the other hand, want to go to Italy and eat pastries.

Let me clarify. It’s not because I didn’t care for the show. On the contrary, it was darling. But the story of an Italian baker set to a catchy European soundtrack has given me a serious case of wanderlust (and made me hungry)!

For the time being I will settle for living vicariously through Perô, his neighbor Columbina, and the flamboyant Paletino the painter in this sweet tale. Cleverly narrated by the sun and the moon, Perô tells the story of star-crossed lovers (puppets, actually) whose occupations – a baker who bakes by moonlight and a washer woman who needs the sun to dry her clothes – have kept them at bay. It takes a surprise visitor shaking things up in their quiet village to help the characters realize what they truly want.

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While the sun and the moon narrated the bulk of the tale, they were also the musicians and one of the highlights of the show. I can’t remember seeing another Childsplay performance with live music and it was a treat! My daughter, her friend and I tapped along to the upbeat tunes throughout.

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The other highlight, in my opinion, was the clever – yet simple – set construction. It was fun to watch the “handlers” bring the puppets to life inside their little white houses. But it was even more interesting to watch the big black box in center stage transform into a colorful, tranquil countryside complete with fluttering butterflies, falling leaves and…pasta. Yes, noodles galore.

My 11-year-old dates both loved the show and asked to see it again. And I would, too – only this time, I would plan on a post-production pastry run.

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Heather’s Review of “Perô or the Mysteries of the Night”

I am lucky enough to be one of the Childsplay Family2Family Bloggers for their 2015-2016 season and yesterday my family headed down to the Tempe Center for the Arts and enjoyed a beautiful production of Perô or the Mysteries of the Night.

This was our first visit to a Childsplay production as well as to the Tempe Center for the Arts, which by the way is a stunning piece of architecture!  After the play we spent some time walking around outside enjoying the beautiful weather and the scenery.

The play itself is told by four very talented narrators who tell the story using music, puppets, and creative scenery. My 6 and 9 year old boys have grown up going to live theater and this one didn’t disappoint, it had them captivated and engaged for the entire performance.   The talent of the actors was incredible with their ability to sing, dance, act, play a variety of musical instruments all while using puppetry was fascinating to watch!

While not wanting to give away too much, this is a beautiful story filled with love, romance, laughter, and a little bit of heartbreak too.  The Sun and the Moon are two of the characters who help tell the story, set in a small village in Italy, of the baker, Perô and the washer woman, Colombina.

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The entire family certainly had their own favorite parts of the performance.  At the end of the show, the actors spent a few minutes answering some Q&A from the audience members.  Lastly, as we headed out of the theater, we were given some questions to talk about as a family for the ride home about the play – it was great!

This particular show has a limited engagement, playing only 2/6/16 – 2/7/17 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.  I’d highly recommend taking your family to see this – they’ll love it!

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Rachael reviews “A Year with Frog and Toad”


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A Year with Frog and Toad the musical was a most enjoyable experience. Originally I had a babysitter for our twin toddlers so that my husband and I could take our 3 older children to the performance. The babysitter fell through so my husband stayed home and we offered his ticket to a friend of my oldest daughter, I know he enjoyed it because at the end of the musical he exclaimed “That was awesome!”

I appreciated the readily available seat cushions at the coat check desk to give my younger one the extra boost to see better. I do want to make a note that my youngest daughter who has sensory processing disorder was covering her ears during some of the song “Toad looks funny in a bathing suit” but none of the other songs. Not sure if the volume was actually louder or if there was a pitch difference from the other songs. To be honest it was the only song I did not care for, not in the sense of how it was written, sang, or even acted out which was all done wonderfully but in the sense that it made it seem okay to make fun of how Toad looked in a particular style of clothing. Not a very good lesson to be teaching. However this musical did teach good lessons like how to be a good friend, sometimes friends need alone time, how nice it is to get a letter in the mail, patience for our mail to get delivered by “Snail Mail”, and in general tells of a friendship that endures all seasons.

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It was enjoyable seeing the Snail going “postal” and having the glittery light up shell while impersonating Elvis. The only costumes that made it hard for my youngest to tell what they were, were the birds but the actresses/actor played out the parts with perfection so that you knew they were indeed birds. When I asked my children and their friend what their favorite scene was the response was the “Cookies” song and the Sledding scene.

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The “Cookies” song is where Frog, Toad, and other guests that stop on by cannot stop eating Toad’s freshly baked cookies. The music and fast-paced repetitive lyrics are very catchy and end with a great big mess! It is after the “Cookies” scene that starts intermission (I am guessing to give time to clean up the cookie mess).

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I would say with all the music in it my toddlers probably would have sat still for this performance so I would even recommend it for audiences that young. I am half tempted to go see it again with the younger ones. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and maybe sing-a-long to A Year with Frog and Toad.

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Sarah Reviews “The Smartest Girl in the World”

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My daughter and I started our Halloween festivities early…not with a trick, but with a late afternoon treat – the world premiere of The Smartest Girl in the World at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Because this is an original show, and a first for playwright Miriam Gonzales, we were intrigued by the title. Who was this smartest girl in the world? Was she a child prodigy? A superhero with special powers? The creator of the next big thing?

At the risk of giving too much away, she is Lizzy Martinez, a spirited third grader with a big personality and big dreams to match. The show follows the story of Lizzy, her older brother Leo and the unique challenges facing their family – from parents who have to work round-the-clock jobs to chronic illness. “The Smartest Girl in the World”, it turns out, is the one who puts her mind to conquering adversity and making sacrifices for the better.

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Having recently seen Childsplay’s silly adaptation of Sideways Stories from Wayside School, I admit I wasn’t expecting such mature topics – like responsibility, illness and jealousy – in The Smartest Girl in the World. But this wasn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, my daughter and I had a better discussion following this show than we have following other Childsplay productions. A sixth grader, she had questions about Leo’s illness and about why the parents were not home much. It provided an opportunity to discuss family dynamics much different from ours, as we are a single mom and daughter duo.

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One of my favorite aspects of the show was its Hispanic flair – from the brightly decorated set to the Spanish guitar playing in the background to the family’s snippets of Spanish conversation. My daughter loved the creative set changes, watching the simple pieces transform from a bedroom to a kitchen to a game show set in minutes. And, as always with Childsplay, the acting was spot on. The small, four-person cast seamlessly transitioned from one role to another, garnering laughs along the way.

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The Smartest Girl in the World only runs about 50 minutes without an intermission. (It was the perfect length for my antsy trick-or-treater!) Like Lizzy, you could say that it’s short, but mighty, and kids and adults will leave feeling just a little bit smarter – and inspired – themselves.

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