When you bring the entire Titanic onto the Herberger stage and sink it to music, people start suspecting you are more than the average children's theater -- which is fine with Bobb Cooper, artistic director of Valley Youth Theatre and director of its latest offering, Charlotte's Web. "We look at ourselves as a professional theater program for young actors," says Cooper of the 14-year-old theater, the only theater for young people of its caliber and size in the Valley. With music and lyrics from Charles Strouse (Bye Bye Birdie, Applause and Annie), this Charlotte's Web is the story you remember and love, with music that you'll probably love as well by the time you walk out of the theater. Charlotte's Web runs Friday, October 10, through October 26 at Valley Youth Theatre, 525 North First Street. Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at noon and 3 p.m., and Sundays at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be ordered at 602-253-8188, extension 2. - Quetta Carpenter
All aboard for a good time
While the train sets that once adorned childhood playrooms have largely been replaced by this generation's less inclusive video games, there is a contingent of kids who still relate to the lure of the locomotive. Allow yours to get on track at Railfair '03, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 11, and Sunday, October 12, at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, 7301 East Indian Bend in Scottsdale.
Model train displays and exhibits, train and carousel rides, simulated Western gunfights, free train tours and ice cream promise a day your mini-conductor won't want to miss. Admission is free. For details call 480-312-2312. - Craig Wallach
Going Rock Steady
A Tony-award winning musical goes to the kids
We love rock 'n' roll. Is there anything else that captures the essence of youth as completely? And the stars, they're soooo cute! But the cutest of all is Conrad Birdie -- he's the rockin', hip-gyrating hottie who goes to a small American town to kiss one of his adoring female fans.
Desert Stages Children's Theatre makes like the Mickey Mouse Club, minus the ears, in its production of Bye Bye Birdie, with more than 130 of the Valley's children and teens in the cast of this Tony Award-winning musical. Set in the '60s, the play is based on the real-life hysteria that surrounded Elvis Presley's draft into the Army.
Bye Bye Birdie runs through November 9 at Desert Stages Theatre, 8473 East McDonald in Scottsdale. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased by calling 480-483-1664 or by visiting www.desertstagestheatre.com. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with 1 and 3 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are recommended. - Eric Schandel