Local Actor Michael John Casey Directs Two Shows at ‘Arts on the Horizon’ by Michelle Kozlak

Michael John Casey.
Michael John Casey.

Arts on the Horizon, the first dedicated theater for very young children in the United States, presents its world-premiere production of The Young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventure February 22 through March 9, 2013 at Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. This interactive nonverbal play with music, conceived by David Kilpatrick and directed by local actor, Michael John Casey, is intended for the area’s youngest audiences – children aged 2-5 and their families.

Meet brother and sister Andrew and Emma – aka The Young Spectaculars!  Energized by their super-powered imaginations, they can’t wait to save their neighborhood.  Except…their neighborhood doesn’t need saving…and their parents won’t let them leave the front yard anyway!  Stuck creating their own super adventures near the front porch, they stumble upon more than they bargained for – amazing derring-do, heroic rescues, and even…alligators? In the end, the Young Spectaculars do save someone – it just happens to be themselves.

Inspired by theater for ages 0-6 that she had seen internationally, founder and producing Artistic Director Michelle Kozlak started Arts on the Horizon to provide Northern Virginia families with high-quality participatory theater created specifically for this young age group.  “This piece resonated with me from the beginning,” Kozlak says of The Young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventure. “As young children we have so many important things to learn, such as how to communicate with others; how to share and take turns; and how to overcome challenges or sometimes even fears. The Young Spectaculars allows children to explore these concepts in a fun and accessible way – using humor and physical comedy.”

“When creating the show, we kept harking back to when we were kids imagining our own super adventures,“ adds playwright David Kilpatrick. “So it’s no surprise that the sound design for the show is straight from the 1980s, complete with an old boom box and cassette tapes. The two characters have great imaginations and a love for their neighborhood, which is timeless. But there’s something about a super adventure that needs a big, epic score, even now. Plus, the parents will love it.”

The cast features Melissa A. Caffrey as Emma and Stanley Andrew Jackson, III as Andrew. The Young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventure features original music by R. McKenzie Lewis and costume/prop design by Bette Cassatt.

Playwright David Kilpatrick has worked in theater for young audiences for the past thirteen years. He is currently the manager of The Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences. Prior to the Kennedy Center, David worked in the education departments of Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre and New York’s The New Victory Theater. He has directed shows for numerous theaters and created Arts on the Horizon’s inaugural show, Drumming with Dishes, which will be part of TYA/USA’s national One Theatre World Festival this May in Cleveland, Ohio.


Director Michael John Casey is a local actor who has performed with African Continuum Theatre, Constellation Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company, among many others. In addition to acting, Michael John Casey has directed at Nazareth College of Rochester, Shipping Dock Theatre, and most recently at the Washington International School. Casey received his MDA in Drama here in DC at Catholic University of America.


Arts on the Horizon, founded in 2010, is a non-profit theatre with a specific focus of providing performances and education programs for the very young. Our performances are designed to take place in an intimate setting where children not only feel comfortable to learn and explore, but are also an integral part of the performance. We have the utmost respect for children and want what may be their first theatrical performance to entertain them, challenge them, spark creativity and enhance the imaginative play in which many children this age engage. Since 2011, our productions have performed in a variety of venues in Northern Virginia, as well as on The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC. In addition to our performances, we also offer education programs which provide targeted exploration of themes and ideas in order to help children enhance their language development, socialization, and fine and gross motor skills; all within a meaningful, nurturing environment where children can develop their sense of self and increase their knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

arts on the horizon logo


Performances of The Young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventure run in Old Town Alexandria at Downtown Baptist Church -, 212 S. Washington Street, in Alexandria, VA.

Performances are February 22, 25, 28 and March 1, 4, 7, 8 at 10:30 AM and February 23, March 2 and 9 at 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM.

March 2nd is “Wear Your Cape” Day, where audience members will be encouraged to dress as their favorite superheroes to both performances.

Tickets are $8 for children and adults and can be purchased online, or at the door on the day of the performance. Children under 12 months-old are admitted free of charge.

Arts on the Horizon is offering a military family rate of $5 per ticket for all performances in Virginia. For the military family rate, reservations should be made by contacting Caitlin McAndrews directly at [email protected].

For more information about Arts on the Horizon, visit our website.



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