Normally, kids need words strung together to make sense of a story. But if you throw a mad scientist on a giant video screen, with an onstage trio of clowns hoping to save the world, the kids might just sing its praises as "an achievement in theatrical concept, Mommy." (Maybe not in those exact words.) In fact, Childsplay's production of Barry Kornhouser's Power Play -- which opens at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 24, and runs through February 15 at the Tempe Performing Arts Center -- just might leave kids nearly speechless, much like the play itself. "There's so much action and so little dialogue," says Rosemary Walsh, Childsplay's marketing director. "It isn't like anything we've done before, which makes it very exciting."
Power Play is guest-directed by Eric Johnson, who made the production an acclaimed success at its home theater, the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Childsplay regulars D. Scott Withers and Gordon Waggoner star in the show, appropriate for kids 5 and older. General admission is $15. Call 480-350-8119 for reservations, or see childsplayaz.org. - Joe Watson
Teens hone improv skills
Improv: It's not just for college students and twentysomethings anymore. The First Ever Teen Improv Festival showcases the best on-the-fly comedy from the under-18 set, providing the comedy club experience sans the drink minimum. Participants include Urban Lemmings from Hamilton High School, The Comedy Club from Horizon High School, PT Comedy Players from Phoenix Theatre, Off the Cuff from Mesa Youth Theatre, and All Rights Reserved from Arizona Jewish Theatre. Family members and comedy fans of all ages are encouraged to attend.
The festival begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, January 25, at Playhouse on the Park, located inside the Viad Corporate Center at 1850 North Central. Tickets are $5 at the door, and the box office opens at noon. Snacks will be available for purchase throughout the day. For further information, call 602-264-0402 or visit www.azjewishtheatre.org. - Quetta Carpenter
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Children's show takes the stage
It deals with magic and dragons, but it's no Puff piece. Starting Thursday, January 22, Dragon Tales Live: Journey to Crystal Cave detours to downtown's Dodge Theatre for seven sing-along shows. Audience participation and special effects set the stage for the story, wherein siblings Emmy and Max help their dragon friends -- Ord, Cassie, Zak and Wheezie -- restore power to the magic scale, which enables travel to and from Dragon Land.
Tickets -- $18 to $35 -- are available at the theater box office, 400 West Washington, and through www.ticketmaster.com, with a special opening-night price of $15. At each performance, the Valley of the Sun Community Diaper Bank will accept diaper donations to be distributed to needy babies, the disabled and the elderly. - Jill Koch