‘Choose Love’

‘Choose Love’

Theater companies create treats for children



‘Turning Red: Learning to Choose Love’

It is difficult to imagine a better model for forgiveness and compassion than Fayetteville native Scarlett Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, a social and emotional education program for elementary schools. When her son, Jesse, was killed in the Sandy Hook school shootings in December 2012, she turned her grief and anger into a positive social crusade to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

“I pictured the shooter as a young boy having angry thoughts without the nurturing and tools to deal with them. … but the most amazing thing is — a thought can be changed,” she said in a recent TedX Talk.

Bentonville’s Trike Theatre has taken the inspirational program and transferred its lessons to the stage in its production of “Turning Red: Learning to Choose Love” by Bethany Corey-Ekin.

“When we heard about the Choose Love Movement from our friends at the Springdale Early Childhood Center, we were intrigued,” says Kassie Misiewicz, artistic director and founder of Trike and director of “Turning Red.” “Our two organizations both believe in nurturing socioemotional learning skills, and, through theater, we get to invite the young audience to tell a story with us and empathize with [the main character] Reed as he goes along his fantastical journey — learning to choose love.”

Misiewicz says that theater is an ideal way to introduce the concepts of the Choose Love program to young audiences.

“Theatre provides a story that young people will remember and retell later on,” she says. “We want them to see parts of themselves, so that when Reed is having a tantrum or making a decision to be kind, the kids will say, ‘Oh, that’s me!’ The Choose Love curriculum is extremely effective, so our job is to create a compelling story with a hero’s journey that a 3- to 5-year -old can relate to and that illuminates the power of the Choose Love formula: ‘Courage plus Gratitude plus Forgiveness plus Compassion in Action equals Choosing Love.’”


‘Turning Red: Learning to Choose Love’

WHEN & WHERE — 3 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. May 4; 9:30 a.m. & 11 a.m. May 3 at Trike Theatre in Bentonville; 9:30 a.m. & 11 a.m. May 11 and May 16-18, Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale

COST — $6

INFO — 464-5084


‘Junie B. Jones: The Musical’

Author Barbara Parks’ beloved heroine, Junie B. Jones, first showed up in print in 1981 in “Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus.” Twenty-eight more Junie B. books would follow. The feisty, elementary school-aged girl is not your typical heroine: She is imperfect, prone to accidents and awkward interactions and struggles with insecurity. But, more importantly, she is funny, likable and learns from her many mistakes.

“I believe Junie B. is ‘everyman,’” says Julie Gabel of Junie B.’s appeal. Gabel is directing the ArtsLive Theatre production of “Junie B. Jones, The Musical.” “Our disappointments, our embarrassments, our ability to be tenacious — all of those things we struggle with, she struggles with.”

The musical adaptation of Parks’ work condenses four of the series’ novels into a one-hour musical that features over a dozen fun and funny musical numbers.

Gabel says the cast numbers around 30 young stage artists from the Northwest Arkansas area.

“We have a lot of younger actors in this show,” notes Gabel. “But we’ve also got a lot of our seasoned actors in this show, as well.” Gabel says watching the older kids mentor the younger actors has been inspirational. “You don’t even have to hint or ask — they just jump in and they help. They’re mentoring, and they’re modeling work ethic and what you do at rehearsal. The younger kids learn it a lot more quickly from their peers than they would from an adult.”

Gabel says she’s confident the show will be a crowd pleaser.

“What I really like about this play is that it delves into so many little things, little issues, that all kids deal with, like embarrassment, being tenacious, making new friends — all struggles we all share. It touches on several things in a very short amount of time.”


‘Junie B. Jones: The Musical’

WHEN — 7 p.m. May 2-4 & 2 p.m. May 4-5

WHERE — Arts Center of the Ozarks, 214 S. Main St., Springdale

COST — $10-$15

INFO — 521-4932

Categories: Family Friendly