A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday Review by Joy

This week we had the pleasure of viewing A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday with book and lyrics by Jenny Millinger, music by Todd Hulet, directed by Dwayne Hartford, and based on the books by Susan Lowell (childsplayaz.org).

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Be sure to arrive a few minutes early to participate in the craft table with themes from the play, and to obtain your complementary child booster seat.

This culturally rich holiday story was given the gift of life through lively choreography, a bright musical score, and memorable performances. Rhetta Mykeal (Angelina) was a stand out for her voice and drama. Vinny Chavez (Jose) returned to the stage after starring in Junie B. Jones is not a Crook, and once again was a Junior Review Team family favorite of my children!  Chelsea Soto (Josefina) danced her way into our hearts and Rudy Ramirez (Juan) kept us all entertained!  Daniel Kurek (Conductor) added the gift of live music for this show and it was priceless. My kids loved seeing the orchestra pit and hearing all the instruments.

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The set was rich with cultural elements and clever lighting illuminated the stage for a standout design.

This play encompasses many authentic themes felt during the holidays, yet wraps them in a way that is entertaining for the whole family. Have you ever wondered where you fit in at family celebrations? How do you feel when new traditions begin replacing old ones? How do you handle disappointment or the pressure of expected roles?

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The stars in this performance tackle these realistic holiday themes in an uplifting and heartfelt way that will entertain the entire family. It provides a great example of how we can all continue to shine, even when faced with “hairy” holiday situations. This show is a reminder that love is more important than perfection, family is more valuable than material things, and when we combine humor seasoned with acceptance – we can all give and receive the greatest gift there is – Love. Unwrap the priceless gift of laughter with the ones you love, by joining us for the next performance of A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday!

We will see you there!!

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Joy Brownlee RN. BSN. MED. publishes family friendly reviews on culture, family, and food at www.ibelieveinjoy.com and is featured in “Snacking with Joy!” at www.sandiegofamily.com.

A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday Review by Vicki

This past weekend I took two of my daughters (6 and 13 years old) to see Childsplay’s performance of “A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday” at the beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts.

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I am not personally familiar with the book that the show is based on so I purposefully didn’t read about it ahead of time. I liked the idea of the characters and the story being revealed to me, and my children, for the first time at the theater. It was a big surprise to find out that it was a musical and the entire performance was going to be presented in song. I wasn’t expecting that and you’d think it would be difficult to follow along without dialogue, but it was actually quite the opposite. In fact, the lyrics were so great and the story was told so beautifully through music that sometimes you even forgot the cast was singing everything.

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There are a few key messages throughout the show, but my favorite was that even though different people have different traditions for the holidays, it’s okay to be open to new ideas, new people and new ways of doing things. And really what it comes down to is JavelineBlog1.jpgspending time with the people you love and care about.

The set was vibrant and festive and I have to admit that until I saw the show I wasn’t into the holiday spirit yet but watching the characters trim their tree, and prepare their Christmas feast, made me feel a lot more in the spirit.

The cast of this show really did a fantastic job and both of my kids really enjoyed it. We laughed a lot, especially at the comedic delivery of the Coyote and the Nutcracker sequence. It also sparked a lot of conversation on the drive home with my 6 year old. I would highly recommend this show!

Keith’s Rock the Presidents review

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“Rock the President” is a high energy interactive Presidential history rock show.  Presented by Childsplay and performed at the Tempe Center for the Arts. This unique performance has something for everyone. Kids will love the music, frenetic performance and an introduction to the extensive history of the US office of the President. Adults will enjoy the Presidential history they know and remember learning in school, in addition to learning/re-learning the Presidential history they long since forgot from their utterly forgettable high school history books. One has to ask how much more we would have learned and remembered if the history we learned in school was presented like “Rock the Presidents”?

The cast of actors who perform this non-stop adrenaline fueled performance do a fantastic job singing and dancing while all the while wearing their history professor hats to educate and entertain the audience.  Alan Koutakoun, Jacqueline Castillo and Devon Nickel are the Secret Service agents of Presidential history.  Their performance does not push anyIMG_4007.JPG political agenda, instead the show focuses on the human history of the office of the President across the political spectrum and delivers with at least as much energy as a major rock concert. I especially liked how the performers/actors even cover some of the very negative aspects of American Presidential history with respect while still getting across the importance of some of the lowest points in our countries Presidential history.  I was especially impressed with how much of the history sunk in with our young daughters, ages 7 & 9, when after the performance on the way home they were asking about some of the history they had just been introduced to for the first time. The run time of the play is around 90 minutes with a 15 minute intermission, which I found to be perfect for our children ages 7 and 8.

With all the high energy music and lighting of a headline rock concert special Kudos are a must to the musicians and all the technical people behind the scenes, far too many to mention by name, who use their extensive musical and creative talent to bring this concert of history to life.

As usual the Childsplay did not disappoint. We had a wonderful family afternoon at the theater and encourage anyone with young children or grandchildren not to miss this delightfully unique and energetic theatrical production.

Julie’s Rock The Presidents Review

With Hamilton all the rage on Broadway, and the presidential election less than two weeks away, there was no better time for my family to attend Childsplay’s production of Rock the Presidents at Tempe Center for the Arts.  Headed to the theater, I engaged the kids (Landen, 10 and Caroline, 8) with questions such as, “how many presidents has our country had?”  “Forty four!”  Screams Landen from the back seat. I cheered him on; surprised that he knew the answer, only to later learn that we elected Grover Cleveland twice as our nation’s 22nd and 24th presidents so technically we have only had 43 presidents. Newfound knowledge is just part of what makes Rock the Presidents so fun.

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The show grabs the audience from the get-go with the lively number Hail! Flashy lights create a rock-concert atmosphere as the cast bounds about on stage in choreographed numbers and acrobatic stunts. There are a few songs devoted to the “lesser-known” presidents such as, Who in the World is Millard Fillmore?

The lovely First Ladies is a tribute to our nation’s first partners and it is noted that we may not be far from a First Gentleman.

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Rock the Presidents has a run time of 1 hour 30 minutes (including 15 minute intermission and Q&A at the end) which makes it perfect for the antsier audience members. Each act features The Presi-tron, a quiz-show type scene that gets the audience involved by having them answer questions in a physical way, i.e. Shake your arms, wave, fist in the air, etc. I could see my younger child glaring towards her brother for the correct answer before giving hers. I myself glared towards my politically-minded husband for the answers.

In our current election climate, it was hard to watch The Buck Stops Here and not wonder if our current nominees would accept the level of responsibility that the lyrics describe. Fortunately, the show quickly takes a fun turn with, They Got a Dog, which highlights presidential pets. Did you know Calvin Coolidge had Pygmy Hippopotamus at the White House?2016 rockPres11.jpg

Rock the Presidents keeps the energy up throughout the show. The catchy Ronald Regan is a toe-tapping number prior to the powerful, What Could Have Been? That deals with what happens when an assassin takes a president. The entire show is set against a backdrop of history with images and video on a large screen. Pre-Kennedy assassination images notwithstanding, the most moving images are of depression era America. The Only Things We Have to Fear is a shout out to the optimists that brings the musical back from a darker place.

Are You a President-to-be? Ends the show with an uplifting message of hope and speaks of breaking barriers of race and gender. That’s a powerful message for today’s youth and judging by the standing ovation, a much-needed one. During the Q&A (a Chilsplay tradition) my kids were not among those who raised their hands that they wanted to be president but they definitely cast their vote for Rock the Presidents!

 

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