c o m p o s e r s l y r i c i s t s p l a y w r i g h t s
How I Became a Pirate
"Your ears will enjoy fair sailing if your family decides to drop anchor at the Rose Theater to see "How I Became a Pirate." This musical theater production has an upbeat Disney movie quality to it, in the tradition of "The Little Mermaid" and "The Lion King." It's fun for kids and packed with musical sophistication and clever lines to keep older children and adults entertained - the quality of a touring Broadway production. The show's clever lyrics and strong singing voices move the story along beautifully. Parents should be pleased that there are no repetitive choruses or story elements. There is plenty on stage to keep all ages entertained throughout the show. The fine songs have styles ranging from ballads and danceable Latin styles to Rodgers and Hart. In the rousing finale "Pirates Dot Arrrgh" the pirate crew bids farewell to Jeremy at his home, gives him a black Jolly Roger flag and tells him it will be easy for him to get in touch: Just wave the flag, go to "pirates.arrrgh" or just "Google" them, matey!"
JANE PALMER / Omaha World-Herald
"Children's theatre works on many levels: to entertain, to educate, and to expand young and growing imaginations. HOW I BECAME A PIRATE serves all of these goals well. It presents an hour well-spent that inevitably pays lasting dividends; therein sits the real treasure. To naysayers, simply reply, in your deepest tones, 'Aarrgh'!"
ELIZABETH PETERSON-VITA / Broadway World South Caolina
"if you love the book, you'll go crazy for the show - the songs, Jeremy Jacob, Captain Braid Beard and the whole pirate crew! My boys were enthralled - my 3 year old watched with mouth agape. My first grader and his friend came home and read the book. They loved the pirate Shark Tooth!"
LIZ /Parent & Audience Member, Arvada Center, Colorado
“The pirates are a scurvy bunch of knaves, all seven of them, lead by Captain Braid Beard who immediately takes to the boy and invites him to come aboard his ship. “Mom won’t mind,” Jeremy reasons, “As long as I get home in time for soccer practice.” And off they go.
Enjoy the silliness of being in the company of a band of friendly pirates for an hour or so. “We always talk with our mouths full,” declares one pirate. “Homework never killed anyone,” states another, then adds, “But why chance it?”
The songs are witty with catchy hooks that bounce the production along at an endearingly snappy pace. They’re all fun, but a few stand out. Soccer by the Rules is a terrifically humorous number sung by Jeremy as he attempts to teach the pirates the rules of playing football. “No one understands Offside,” he states. Read The Map is a pirates ensemble piece echoing elements of Gilbert and Sullivan, and the one pirate who you think could perhaps be the loose cannon, Sharktooth (Emmanuel Aire) – he’s bigger than the others and a little more imposing – starts singing, “I’m really just a sensitive guy/I plunder/Yet I wonder/About the stars above.” He then proceeds to perform a humorous few moments of ballet. The opening night audience loved it.
Even though the show is aimed primarily at the elementary school age level, How I Became A Pirate can still be enjoyed by older kids and their parents. The Valley Youth Theatre aims at professionalism no matter what the production, and Pirate hits all its marks, plus it’s so enjoyable to watch performers having a great time on stage, particularly when it is an infectious as this; it can’t help but rub off on the audience.”
David Appleford - Phoenix Film Critics Society and the American Theatre Critics Association
“How I Became a Pirate has a full deck of lively songs and great ensemble singing. This is another children’s musical from the team of Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman,
Pirate is a classic “there and back again” story about a child’s wish for freedom and power: pirates, after all, never have to say “please”, brush their teeth, or go to bed before they want to. But kids still long for the comfort of bedtime stories and “tucking in," and Newton’s Jeremy does a great job of showing us the yin and yang of childhood—the feisty little pirate, and the boy who wants to go home.
The script pads the source material with add-ons for adults—the mention of “a three-hour tour,” an Elvis hip wiggle, a line from a Rodgers & Hart song—but the comedy is mostly aimed at the kids. The songs are something both big and little'uns should enjoy…ranging from Caribbean-tinged numbers to sea shanties to patter songs with impressive vocabularies á la Gilbert & Sullivan.
Bottom line: adults should like the musical numbers, and younger kids will enjoy it all, especially if you score a ticket up close to the stage (and buy them a sword!).”
Jan Farrington / Theatre Jones, Ft Worth TX
The Casa Mañana Children’s Theatre production of How I Became a Pirate, which opened Friday, sets sail on a tuneful romp on the not-so-high seas that impresses on every level.
This gentle musical by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman tells the story of Jeremy Jacob, who passes the time playing soccer and enjoying the beach near his seashore home. One day, while engaged in the latter pursuit, Jeremy spots a pirate ship on the horizon. The crew, which is to pirating what the Keystone Kops were to law enforcement, comes ashore and enlists Jeremy to help find a place to bury a treasure chest.
The show is awash in delightful songs that tell of the pirates’ ways. Leading this band of the most nonthreatening criminals you have ever seen (their greatest offense as a group is poor dental hygiene) is Braid Beard as the dimwitted captain.All his mates do an equally good job with their singing, dancing and acting, most notably Sharktooth. He only has one number, but it is so superbly sung that it alone more than covers your price of admission.
But young patrons attending the Friday morning, school-group performance seen for this review were totally engaged by this show, but not in the way they usually are.
At most of these presentations, the kids are so excited that they are bouncing in their seats with glee and are highly audible in their appreciation. With this show, they were just as involved without being as demonstrative about it. The lesson there is that audiences of all ages apparently know quality when they see it.
By Punch Shaw / Dallas – Ft. Worth Theatre News
Sleepy Hollow: A Musical Tale
"Washington Irving's spooky characters come to life in this brand new musical adaptation of "Sleepy Hollow." The 14 musical numbers represent different styles. Songs with a modern pop feel to hits of the 1950s to the sounds of the Charleston from the 1920s are included in the show. Seeing colonial people dance in ways you wouldn't see in that time period is just plain fun!The story has the characters interject modern things into the colonial world - the kids bring some comedy to the show when they talk about pop culture references to the colonial characters - 'Star Wars' and 'Harry Potter' are mentioned.But at the same time, they discover they are not that different from each other. Kids are kids, and have the same kinds of problems no matter what time period they are in."
NICKI POER / Director of Education, Outreach and Youth Programs, Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
"This "Sleepy Hollow" harkens to more innocent Halloween fare and lets kids enjoy an old-fashioned ghost story on their own terms."
Matthew Palm, Theatre Criitic , Orlando Sentinal
Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale
"It’s very funny, so the adults are laughing themselves out of their seats at rehearsal - and that's a good sign. The story is based on the Grimm fairy tale, so the young kids will get it as well. It’s very humorous and nontraditional. The evil enchantress sings a country-and-western song and later on there’s a tango. There’s also some gypsy music, so there’s a lot of different styles of music.”
BETSY BISSON / Artistic/Education Director, South Carolina Children's Theatre
“Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale” is a colorful and genially zany musical that will delight the kids and charm the parents as well. With an appealing pop-rock score by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, this musical adaptation of the Rapunzel fairy tale is full of lighthearted hilarity, keeping the proceedings broad and frolicsome. Children will enjoy the musical’s gentle merriment. The inside jokes directed at theater and fairy tales, meanwhile, will likely beguile the adults. Winning! A perfect storybook atmosphere.”
PAUL HYDE / Arts Writer, Greenville Online
"Just saw this show yesterday at Casa Manana Theatre. First time I took my daughter to a play or musical and she absolutely adored it. She can't wait to come back to see another. I thoroughly enjoyed it, too! Very good musical for kids - she kept glued to the stage the whole time and laughed and clapped throughout!"
Melanie K. / A Happy Online Mom
Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical
".... TENDERLY: A Rosemary Clooney Musical is a show, written by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, that's bound to build a long legacy and its voyage all begins in Dayton, Ohio. Don't miss it"
Michael Woody / reviewer for Performing Arts Examiner
"What an amazing and talented person! This is a very beautiful play, and I loved the music and the era," (quoted audience member response in this review). Opening night, which ended with an enthusiastic standing ovation, was a time for reminiscences."
Meredith Moss / reviewer for Dayton Daily News
The Magical Adventures of Merlin
"What's most rewarding about "The Magical Adventures of Merlin" is that beneath all the illusions, tricks and sword fighting, there is a coming-of-age story about two unlikely friends who end up learning to respect, trust and care for each other! Beyond the razzle-dazzle of magic lies a heartfelt story”
Steve MacKinnon – Director of MERLIN at the Orlando Rep
Snow White and the Prince
“Snow White and the Prince" by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman had its world premiere at Casa Manana in Forth Worth, Texas last weekend. This new spin on Snow White casts a magical spell on the audience!”
DEANNA BOYD / Ft. Worth Star Telegram
"Snow White and the Prince" may bear little resemblance to the Disney version but it would make Walt himself proud! This first-class production will delight the whole family!”
Sandy Staggs / Theatre Online - Greenville, SC
“Snow White and her prince are the perfect complement to each other while the Evil Queen is deliciously wicked as the domineering queen of mean - her transformation to the old hag is amazing. The Magic Mirror gets the best lines – an endearing character that’s like the enchanted furniture pieces in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Snow White and the Prince makes it easy to buy “happily ever after.”
CATHY O'NEAL / THEATRE JONES, FT. WORTH, TX
Anne of Green Gables
“This is one of those rare ensemble pieces of theatre that can transport the audience with words and music and doesn’t need all the trappings of the current ‘spectacle’ theatre. This it what excites me as a director – it challenges me."
Kevin Moore / Managing Director, The Human Race Theatre, Dayton, Ohio
"… A gem - a piece that is sweet and leisurely, taking the time to develop its characters and washing us with a peaceful warmth."
Dennis Thompson / Suburban News Theater Critic, Columbus, Ohio
“The book, music and lyrics, do both literally and figuratively sing on stage from the first notes. It moves.quickly and smoothly. An evening of dreams come true. A perfect way to remember the Anne of Green Gables from childhood.
Peggy Sue Dunigant, Theatre Critic, Vital Source Magazine, Milwaukee
“The musical delights in telling Anne’s story – and as Anne spelled with an “e” tells Matthew early on: “Dreams don’t often come true, do they? Wouldn’t it be nice if they did?” With Anne of Green Gables, they most certainly do. And that’s spelled with an emphatic “y-e-s."
Harry Cherkinian / Milwaukee Theatre Magazine
".... GREEN GABLES may be the highlight of the Barter Theatre season. And, given how great this year has been so far, that's saying quite a lot."
Robert McKinney / Theatre Critic for the Bristol Herald Courier
“You don’t have to have Anne Shirley’s vivid imagination to envision GREEN GABLES quickly becoming a musical theatre classic. This charming new musical captivated crowds at the Human Race Theatre. Bring this one back - a terrific and heartwarming family show.”
Meredith Moss / The Dayton Daily News
“…really lovely musical scoring. The music in GREEN GABLES has a precision and beauty,
which makes for very engaging and moving songs.”
Ed Stern / Former Producing Artistic Director, TONY Award winnning Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
“…a brilliant musical! It is hopeful to hear that our new composers are writing music – real music. In GREEN GABLES, Vogt and Friedman have captured the poignant humor and the beguiling charm of the classic book – standing room only crowds!”
Burt Saidel / Columbus Oakwood Register
“This adaptation, lovingly crafted, remains faithful to the original story while adding a lovely musical score and a series of clever songs which emerge seamlessly from the fabric of character and plot.”
Gary Aday / Washington County News, VA