Phoenix, AZ - Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) continues its 26th Anniversary Season with the theatre’s annual holiday production of A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail opening December 5, 2014.

“Not only is this the 19th anniversary production of Pooh,” said Producing Artistic Director Bobb Cooper, “we’re also celebrating our 10th anniversary of collecting stuffed animals for Operation Noah!”

Operation Noah ( began in 2004 as a bar mitzvah project for Dennis Fries of Chandler. Since then, more than 300,000 stuffed animals have been given to children admitted to hospitals or emergency rooms.

Fries graduated from NYU with a BFA in Film & TV Production and returned to the Valley with his own motion design and animation company. He is scheduled to appear at VYT on December 4 when children with life-threatening illnesses from HopeKids ( will attend the final technical rehearsal of A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail.

Sixteen-year-old Carly McClain reprises her 2012 role as Pooh and Caroline Wells returns from last season as the mama marsupial Kanga; both hail from Phoenix as do six others in the cast.

With actors ranging in age from 6 (newcomer Ivon Staneva as Roo) to 18 (Brandon Reyes as Eeyore), the cast also includes four from Chandler and one each from Mesa, Paradise Valley and Waddell for a total of 15.

The musical centers around the miserable, gray donkey Eeyore who has lost his tail. So, Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet muster all of their friends in the Hundred-Acre Wood to help find it.

Based on stories by A.A. Milne, the music and lyrics are by James W. Rodgers -- who also adapted the Frank Capra film It’s A Wonderful Life into a musical.

This holiday musical tradition about caring and sharing has been delighting Valley audiences since 1995 and runs December 5 through 23. Tickets start at $20 and are available by calling the VYT box office at 602.253.8188 x2 or ordering online at   back...

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