Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) opens the only play of their 30th anniversary season, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, this Friday, February 8, at 7:00 pm, at Valley Youth Theatre. In addition to opening night, public performances include Saturdays and Sundays, February 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm. The theatre is located at 525 North First Street, in Downtown Phoenix, and ticket prices are $20. As with all VYT shows, dress rehearsal on February 7 will be performed for HopeKids and their families. Special school shows, set aside for field trips and Title 1 schools participating in VYT’s Literacy and the Arts program, will take place on February 14 and 21 at 9:30 am and 11:30 am.
The story is based on the book by author Kate DiCamillo and was adapted for the stage by Childsplay’s Artistic Director, Dwayne Hartford.
According to VYT’s Producing Artistic Director, Bobb Cooper, “The reason I selected The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane begins with the high esteem and honor I have for Childsplay, in Tempe. It is an incredible organization and I’ve always been impressed with their amazing artists and leaders. Dwayne Hartford, whom I’ve known and admired since 1999, is one of these amazing artists. In 2016, Dwayne went from an accomplished actor and stepped into the highest leadership role for Childsplay as their Artistic Director. Dwayne took this wonderful story and beautifully adapted it for the stage. It takes a lot to survive and thrive in the theatre industry. So, watching his journey from actor to playwright to the Artistic Director he is today has been witnessing a miraculous journey, much like Edward Tulane’s.”
This is the Arizona directorial debut of VYT’s new Director of Education & Outreach, Carolyn Marie Wright, former Manager of Education & Community Engagement at Geffen Playhouse and Adjunct Faculty at Moorpark College in Theatre Arts. She has regularly performed with The Second City Hollywood, Humanity Play Project, and Looseleaf Theatre Company. Her training includes The Second City, The Groundlings, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, Yale (BA), NYU (MA) and UCLA (MFA).
“It is a delight and an honor be a part of the creative team in my role as director for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” said Carolyn Marie Wright, VYT’s Director of Education and Director of this production. “This magical story tells the tale of a self-absorbed china doll rabbit who encounters new friends on an unexpected adventure and learns how to love and care for others along the way. Now, more than ever, this message is needed in our world.”
This production features fifteen extraordinarily talented local actors, ages 10-16. Edward Tulane is portrayed by 11-time VYT alum, Andy Wissink, of Paradise Valley. Andy, a triplet, attends Brophy College Preparatory where he is an officer in drama club, a member of Red & White Club and active in musical theatre. Kate Williams, who plays Abilene, is 10 and in 4th grade at All Saints Episcopal Day School. She lives in Phoenix and recently appeared in VYT’s Annie as Molly.
East Valley cast members include Alex Flores, of Tempe, a 9th-grader at Arizona School for the Arts, Emily Jacoby, of Gilbert, who is in 11th grade at Perry High School, Prescott Smidt, of Mesa, a Freshman at Arizona School for the Arts, Jessica Wastchak, of Chandler, in 10th grade at Hamilton High School, and Asher Stubbs and Micah Wade of Ahwatukee. Asher is 10 and in 5th grade at Monte Vista. Micah is also 10 and in 5th grade at Kyrene de los Logos.
Goodyear’s Faith Wheelington is a 15-year-old Sophomore at Bioscience High School. Olivia Medina lives in Peoria and attends Sageoak Charter High School. Petra Danek lives in Scottsdale and attends International School of Arizona and Matthew Syms, who lives in Paradise Valley, attends Herberger Young Scholars Academy.
Rounding out the cast are Jordan Baker and Kate Brink who live in Phoenix and attend Xavier College Preparatory, as well as Ian Gray who lives in Phoenix.
Produced by Cooper, the musical score is by Kyle Sorrell, set design is by Dori Brown and costume and makeup design are by VYT’s Resident Costume Designer, Karol Cooper. Sound design is by Brian Honsberger, lighting is designed by Bret Reese and the Production Stage Manager is Joycelin Jacobs-Schwartz.
There is also an all-youth crew comprising Niki Brown, Assistant Stage Manager, and Riley Thornton, Deck Crew.
Sponsored by Clairvoyant, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hobo camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we’re shown a true miracle: even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love, again.
This season marks the 30th Anniversary for VYT and their schedule of five musicals and one play includes three Arizona premieres. Eight-week Fall, Winter and Spring performing arts classes are also offered, as are Spring Break and Summer Camps. The theatre’s ongoing community programs include Literacy and the Arts, Sponsor-a-Seat and The Nigel Ross Scholarship Fund as well as their annual fundraising events, Oscar at The Oscars, in February, the VYTee Golf Classic, in May, and the VYTal (Valley Youth Theater Applauds Leadership) Affair, in August.
For more information on Valley Youth Theatre, visit www.vyt.com.