BWW Previews: CHILDREN'S ORIGINAL PLAYS TO BE PERFORMED BY ADULT ACTORS  at Carrollwood Players TheatreThere's a certain magic that happens on stage when you allow an adult actor to shed their expected maturity and slip into the carefree role of a child. On April 6-8 in The CWP Black Box at Carrollwood Players Theatre, eight talented actors, will perform words written by eight child playwrights.

In its third year, KIDSPEAK premieres eight one acts written for the theatre's annual youth playwriting competition. The producers and director had the difficult task of reading each play and whittling down the great number of submissions vying for consideration and an opportunity to win trophies.

Each year the popular staged reading has sold out, so the theatre encourages attendees to get tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

KIDSPEAK actress Suzy Duic explained what she enjoyed most about working with original works of youth playwrights.

"What's really impressive is to see the creativity, humor and adult themes in these young playwrights' scripts. It's exciting to have an opportunity to bring their words to life."

In competition are "Wizardly Wars," written by Mykhia P., "Just Too Late," written by Kyla M., "Tale As Old as Time," written by Nyonyose V., "Meet the Toddlers," written by Madison L., "Ally's Destiny to Ride," written by Charity M., "Through the Trees," written by Tori M., "The Surreal Change," written by Gabrielle O., and "Pancakes Vs. Waffles," written by Destiny G.

BWW Previews: CHILDREN'S ORIGINAL PLAYS TO BE PERFORMED BY ADULT ACTORS  at Carrollwood Players Theatre"As we noticed at our first cast read through, these kids truly touch on deep underlying life lessons in their stories...while often making us smile and laugh uncontrollably! There is a simultaneous sense of innocence and wisdom about them," said KIDSPEAK actress Tiffany Cline.

Under the direction of Tracy Stemm-Crews, KIDSPEAK 3.0 features returning cast member regulars Jim Moss, Alexa Sheppard, and Kenneth Grace and new to the show, Cline, Duic, William Chamblee, Lisa Yambo and Brent Walker.

Nine-year-old Piper Grace joins the show as it's youth director, learning behind-the-scenes tips from Tracy and assisting with director duties, including giving the curtain speech on Sunday afternoon.

KIDSPEAK introduced the youth director position last year, a role first held by Maggie Gamson, who won the theatre's 2016 Nancy Awards for "Best Actress" for her role as the lead in "The Diary of Anne Frank."

Kenneth described how it is to perform the original works of middle schoolers:

"It's sort of like being asked to do the impossible...exercises you'd do in acting class to stretch your skills. But the real upside is encouraging young writers via CWP's student and community outreach program. Lastly, I look forward to seeing the looks on the writers' faces during and after the show especially when they are pleased with the performances."

Although the competition is open to third through seventh graders, in KIDSPEAK 3.0, all of the playwrights are 12 years old.

Despite the young age of the playwrights and sometimes silly themes, the actors take the responsibility of their roles very seriously.

"To me the most fun about being in a child's script is being able to in a way make the child's dream come to life," said Lisa. "A child had a vision, wrote it down and as an actor I get to help bring it to life. That's something they'd never forget and it will give them confidence to keep on having a vision and having dreams."

With topics as varied as the contestants - from wizards and a senior citizen love story to a being careful what you wish for and parents as children - KIDSPEAK premieres their stories in front a voting audience on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and four judges who review the competition on Sunday.

­Alexa explained why she auditions for KIDSPEAK each year:

"I absolutely love bringing the dreams and imaginations of these children to life. They base so much of their work on their own lives, so performing these plays is such an honor!"

Returning judges Luana Mitton, publisher of BeaLu Books, Matthew Belopavlovich, theatre faculty at Patel Conservatory, Hillsborough County Public School teacher Jennifer Russell, and youth judge Maggie Gamson will review the competition on Sunday and 2018 youth director, Piper will deliver the audience and judges' decision, as well as, the trophies.

"To be able to bring the children's thoughts on the stage is a treasure and a privilege. Every rehearsal had us all "young at heart" and laughing. My cast had no hesitation when asked to do the silly or impossible," said Tracy. "This is a real fun show that I'm confident that the audience is going to love as much as we do."

KIDSPEAK is April 6-8 in The CWP Black Box at Carrollwood Players Theatre. General Admission tickets are $10. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday 8pm and Sunday 3pm. Learn more at Order tickets at

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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley

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