VYT to open 24th production of A Winnie-The-Pooh Christmas Tail

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Valley Youth Theatre opens its 24th production of A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail, 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6 at Valley Youth Theatre, 525 N. First St. in downtown Phoenix.

In addition to opening night, public performances are12:30 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15 and 22, Saturdays and Sundays; three performances at 11 a.m., 1:30 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21; and two performances at 10 a.m. and 12:30 pm on Monday, Dec. 23. Ticket prices begin at $17, when purchased as part of a four-show package.

The audience for dress rehearsal, Thursday, Dec. 5, comprises of Valley HopeKids and their families, as does the dress rehearsal for every VYT show, according to a press release.

Four weekday shows have been exclusively reserved for school field trips and VYT’s Literacy and The Arts program that gives students from Title 1 schools a page-to-stage experience by combining in-school learning with the experience of live theatre.

School shows are at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., Dec. 12 and 19, featuring half-price tickets at $10, according to the release.

“This show truly has become a holiday tradition in Phoenix. In fact, the young people cast in this production are now a part of a very special group of performers who have honed their skills with this show. Nearly 300 young people have been a part of this production and many of our former cast members now bring their children – and even their grandchildren – to see what they were a part of as a child,” said VYT Producing Artistic Director Bobb Cooper in a prepared statement.

Sponsored by Dan and Ann Nahom, this musical follows Christopher Robin, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Baby Roo and, Winnie-the-Pooh as they organize a search party throughout the snow-covered Hundred Acre Woods to help poor Eeyore find his lost tail, the release described.

“This is a timeless story about caring, sharing and the importance of friends. It has a message that patrons of all ages can appreciate,” said Mr. Cooper.

The theatre is transformed into a "winter wonderland" and the audience is encouraged to sing along with the musical produced by Mr. Cooper. The production is directed and choreographed by former VYT Kid, Ashley Stults.

Music is directed by Tristan Peterson-Steinert and has been reworked to include guitars and drums. Sound design is provided by Brian Honsberger, costume design by Karol Cooper, lighting and scenic design by Bobb Cooper and Joycelin Jacobs-Schwartz is the production stage manager.

Presented through special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing Book, music and lyrics are by James W. Rodgers; and inspired by A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, according to the release.

Seventeen-year-old VYT veterans, Justin Vaught, playing Christopher Robin, attends Desert Vista High School and has appeared in 13 VYT productions; Emily Jacoby, playing Winnie-the-Pooh, attends Perry High School and has appeared in two VYT shows.

The cast includes several other Valley performers ranging in age from 7 to 17: Charlotte Specter (Roo), Grace Bush (Kanga), Olivia Fearey (Rabbit), Vivian Paige Nichols (Piglet), Abbey Bernard (Owl), Prescott Smidt (Tigger), Kylan Chait (Eeyore) and six Woodland Friends, Claire Likes, MaddieSue Miller, Jayden Presnal, Slye Sulka, Lanie Witman and Samantha Zell.

Former cast members of this production include famous actors Emma Stone (Rabbit and Eeyore) and Kimiko Glenn (Piglet and Rabbit), the release noted, adding that this 31st season for VYT, features five musicals and one play.

Eight-week fall, winter and spring performing arts classes are also offered, as are spring break and summer camps, the release detailed, noting ongoing community programs including Literacy and the Arts, Sponsor-a-Seat and The Nigel Ross Scholarship Fund as well as the annual fundraising event, the VYTal (Valley Youth Theater Applauds Leadership) Affair in August.

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