Arkansas Arts Center Sets the Stage for 2016-17 Children’s Theater Season

With classics like “Winnie-the-Pooh” and “Rapunzel,” a brand-new original pirate tale and a handful of other fun productions, the 2016-17 Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre season features something for everyone. And, youngsters (and adults) can soon show off their skills to land a part in one of the shows.

“Each season, we try to have a broad offering for different ages and different types of plays,” said Keith Smith, the theater’s associate director and resident playwright. “We try to have a balance of musicals and non-musicals, but this year, everything is a musical except for one.”

Smith crafts each play, sometimes taking a unique spin on a classic, but always “keeping the spirit of the story,” he said.

This season, he’s particularly excited about “The Laughable Legend of Fancybeard the Bully Pirate,” an original piece that Smith is working on — and, he’s still finishing up the story.

Auditions for Local Cast

Each production features local children and adults. Children’s auditions for the first half of the shows are scheduled for July 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Smith said auditions are open to youngsters who have mastered reading, usually around first grade up to high school. Auditions are held in a group setting broken out by age, and kids are taught a movement piece and a song to perform.

For more details about auditions, call 501-396-0336. Adult auditions have not yet been scheduled.

2016-17 Season Overview

The Children’s Theatre, which opened its first season in 1979, is recognized by The Drama League as one of the best regional theater companies in America. The 2016-17 main stage features six shows kicking off in September:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Sept. 23 – Oct. 9

Who hasn’t had a bad day? But, not all bad days are like Alexander’s, where about a thousand elementary school agonies occur and everything is “just not fair!” Book and lyrics by Judith Viorst, music by Shelly Markham.


Oct. 28 – Nov. 13

The ever-lovable Winnie-the-Pooh is just starting his stoutness exercises when Rabbit arrives with interesting news. Join Rabbit, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga, Roo and Pooh for a day of fun and song under the watchful eye of Christopher Robin. Adapted by Clanché du Rand from the stories of A. A. Milne.

The Elves and the Shoemaker

Dec. 2-18

This holiday reimagining of the Grimm’s folktale tells of a poor cobbler with a good heart and a grateful spirit. After Jack Shoemaker and his family fall on hard times, elves grant a magical gift that reminds him what is truly important: family. Adapted from the Brothers Grimm by Keith Smith.

The Laughable Legend of Fancybeard the Bully Pirate

Feb. 3-19, 2017

Join the swashbuckling, rope-swinging, skeleton-rattling fun as pirate cadets Reynaldo, Esmeralda and Brian uncover Fancybeard’s most secret weapons: fair play, tolerance and an open mind. Written by Keith Smith.

Fancy Nancy the Musical

March 10 – April 2, 2017

Nancy and her pals are thrilled to be dancing in their very first show, “Deep Sea Dances.” But not everything goes quite as planned. Book and lyrics by Susan DiLallo, music and lyrics by Danny Abosch; based on the Fancy Nancy books written by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

There will be spring break matinees March 22-25 at 2 p.m.


April 28 – May 14, 2017

Enjoy this heart-swelling musical as Rapunzel of the enchanted tresses discovers the song that will teach her to fly. Adapted from the Brothers Grimm by Keith Smith.

Ticket Information and More Details

Show times are Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Spring break matinees, March 22-25 at 2 p.m., will be held for “Fancy Nancy the Musical.”

Ticket prices are $12.50 for general admission and $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members. Several multiple-ticket packages are available.

“Pay What You Can” tickets are available for the 7 p.m. Thursday preview performance, but must be purchased in person at the Arts Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or at the Children’s Theatre Box Office from 6 to 6:45 p.m.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call 501-372-4000 or visit

Greg Henderson
Author: Greg Henderson

Owner/Publisher - Rock City Eats, Rock City Life, Rock City Times

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