Ever since I began reporting on theater openings in Carson City, I've found children's shows to be in their own way the most rewarding. No deep insights into anything, but just the way kids do things their own way. Monday, as I watched kids in rehearsal for two plays they are presenting this weekend, I was once again struck by the casually different ways kids perform, often as if their minds were in some secret place unattached to what they were doing on stage.
It may be a little boy thrusting the wrong arm while everyone else is getting it right, or it may be a little girl so busy counting house that she forgets to dance off just like the rest of the cast. What I like to think is happening is that the kid is part of the show but he or she has a private show all of his or her own.
Keep an eye out when watching "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," the latter based on a book by Robert Fulgham. The two plays are being staged by the Wild Horse Theater and the Northern Nevada Children's Museum, and both are delightful.
"The Emperor's New Clothes" was written by Hans Christian Anderson, (here adapted by Ron Fink and John Heath). It is the story of two scoundrels who come to the emperor's castle as tailors and offer to make new clothes for him. He's a clothes-horse and gives the two a bag of gold to make him new attire. The two con men pretend to weave fine new cloth and when the emperor sends his counselor or guard to check on the progress of the two, they are fooled by the tailors pretending to show the fine cloth. Since they had warned that the unscrupulous or dumb would not be able to see the cloth, the two messengers are fooled and praised the new cloth.
Finally the emperor decides to have the tailors make him a suit and they pretend to do so, actually clothing him in nothing. The emperor is also ashamed to say he can't see the new suit so he goes riding in his carriage naked. The citizens all fall in line with the con and say how lovely the suit is.
All except a little boy, who with nothing to lose shouts out that the emperor is naked. End of sham.
It's all about people letting themselves be fooled by fear of appearing to be stupid.
Needless to say, the emperor in the Wild Horse show (Challen Wright) doesn't appear naked, but he is down to shorts and a crown. Melody Ricketts is the narrator and a scene stealer, and the crooks are Heather Canfield, Payton Henderson and Emery Mulligan.
With a cast of 30 in "Emperor" and 13 in "Kindergarten," the stage is pretty busy at the Children's Museum. The "Kindergarten" cast appeared Monday in Reno as part of Artown celebrations.
"It's been a fun show to do," said "Emperor" and "Kindergarten" director Jon Josten, son of Pat Josten, the show producer. "It's kind of a modern challenge to keep all the kids in order."
Jon also did the lights and sets for the shows. Jamye Foremaster did the choreography, and Lillian Schaupp is the assistant director and costumer.
"Kindergarten" (adapted from Fulghum's book by Earnest Zuila with music and lyrics by David Caldwell) suggests the world would be a lot better if adults followed the same basic rules as children " sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living "a balanced life" of work, play and learning.
The cast illustrates these ideas with song and dance, all wearing sweatshirts of the same design. Not a lot of movement here, but the songs do make the points. And "cleaning up" is well demonstrated.
The two shows together run for about two hours with a 10-minute intermission.
Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for kids 3 to 18 and free for those 2 and under if they do not occupy a seat. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Aug. 9, and at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Aug. 9 and 10. Call 887-0438 for tickets, which will also be sold at the door. The Children's Museum of Northern Nevada is at 813, Carson St.
Don't have any kids in the shows? Go anyway and recapture some of your youth.