The following article is from Raising Arizona Kids, a Phoenix, AZ based family activities and interests magazine with a circulation of over 140,000. Author Lynn Trimble writes a lovely article about The Valley Youth Theatre’s production of TRW’s TYA Musical, THEY CHOSE ME. Click here to read the article on the magazine’s website.
CELEBRATING ADOPTION AND FOSTER FAMILIES
By Lynn Trimble | Raising Arizona Kids
After dreaming for years of performing a musical about adoption called “They Chose Me,” Valley Youth Theatre artistic director Bobb Cooper knew just who to call to help make it happen. Wednesday the Phoenix-based theater company gathered with friends from the Arizona Association for Foster & Adoptive Parents and the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation to share a sneak peak of the “They Chose Me,” which is being performed at VYT April 5-21.
The show, which affirms the value of families formed in all sorts of ways, features music by Ned Paul Ginsburg, an artist Cooper has worked with before — during time spent with Broadway Kids in New York City. Lyrics are by Michael Colby, who co-wrote the book (portions spoken rather than sung) with Ginsburg. The VYT production features direction by Cooper and musical direction by Mark Fearey.
Fearey sat stage left playing the piano Wednesday night as youth newly cast performed a selection of songs from the musical. Catherine “Rusty” Foley, who heads Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts, marveled at what the performers were able to accomplish with just three hours rehearsal — a testament to the power of the arts in fueling young minds. “I’ll bet they didn’t learn their multiplication tables that quickly,” she quipped.
Cast member Ramiro Enrique Guevara, a 17-year-old student at Bioscience High School, appreciates the musical’s multicultural cast of characters, which reinforces the show’s overall theme — there’s nothing wrong with being different. Enrique loves the show’s message, which he beautifully summarizes like this: “I’m adopted, but I’m not different from anyone else.” A parent, he explains, is anyone who gives their kids love. Seems both cast and audience members can learn much from the musical’s focus on diversity and acceptance.
Riley Glick of Scottsdale, an 11-year-old student at Arizona School for the Arts, describes the show as funny and exciting. “I love the story that it tells,” she says. Lily Castle of Phoenix, a 12-year-old student at Fireside Elementary, says “They Chose Me” is different from every other show. “It’s about true stories instead of fairy tales.” One of Castle’s best friends is adopted. “I hope she’ll come to the show,” Castle shares.
Jessie Jo Pauley of Mesa, a 14-year-old student at Mountain View High School, appreciates the fact that the show ”goes deeper” into adoption stories. “It’s a musical about what adoption is really like.”
“There are so many stories out there not being told,” says Cooper. “I’m an adopted child — I lived in foster care,” Cooper shared with Wednesday’s audience. “These are the stories we do not tell.”
Cooper admits to hesitating a bit before deciding to mount a production of “They Chose Me,” knowing it might not have the same broad appeal as shows like “Shrek” or “Rapunzel.” But he knows the topic matters, and hopes the community will rally behind it.
“We’re a socially responsible organization,” reflects Cooper. “We build character with characters.”