Category Archives: children’s shows


The Magical Story & Backdrops For Your Next Performance of Cinderella 

The classic struggle of good versus evil is clearly evident in the storyline of this time-honored production of Cinderella. With nearly fifty backdrops to choose from, including castles, ballrooms, European villages, and woodland scenes you will have no problems creating the world of Cinderella for your theater production. 

Scenery and backdrops are integral to bringing the audience into the world that is being portrayed on stage. Our backdrop and setting options for Cinderella do just that no matter your performance. 

The Story of Cinderella 

The story of Cinderella was originally a French fairy tale called Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre (Cinderella or the Little Glass Slipper). The story was first passed down as a form of oral history and later published in a book written in 1697 by Charles Perrault. 

Hundreds of years later, Disney took this story and created what we now recognize as the story of Cinderella, the young girl who is tormented by her stepmother and stepsisters. Stage versions began to appear in U.S. theatres by 1961. 

The classic fairytale story of Cinderella focuses on the young girl who lives with her stepfamily after the death of her father. The mother and stepsisters make Cinderella perform menial tasks for them such as making her work all day cleaning, sewing, and cooking. She works hard to make them happy but makes no inroads into their cold demeanor. 

One day, big news came to town and the small world that Cinderella lived in. The King and Queen were going to have a ball to find a bride for their son, the prince. Instead of attending the ball, Cinderella was faced with helping her stepsisters dress and ready themselves to meet the prince. She was left at home to toil away the evening. 

That is until her Fairy Godmother stepped in to make Cinderella’s dreams come true. Using the magic that only a Fair Godmother has, she created a dress, carriage, and horses to carry Cinderella off to the castle to enjoy an evening of dancing. 

While at the ball, Cinderella enjoys a magical dance with the prince and he is enchanted by her. The evening passes by as they enjoy talking and laughing until the clock strikes midnight, the time when all the magic would disappear. Cinderella dashes from the palace and returns to her previous life only to find that the prince is looking for the maiden who lost her slipper dashing out of the ball. That maiden was Cinderella. 

As in many fairy tales, once the prince finds his lost maiden, they marry and live happily ever after. 

Backdrops & Settings for Cinderella 

Currently, Charles Stewart had 50 backdrops with the story of Cinderella in mind including those that focus around the ballroom, where she meets the prince, some in the castle where she toils away her days working for her stepfamily, and still more within the woodlands around her home where she makes friends with the woodland creatures. 

Cinderella’s Village 

We always picture Cinderella living and working in a quaint village and here is an opportunity to introduce your main character. The European Village Backdrop #2553 shows Tudor-style buildings in the center of a European town and distant mountains. 

Palace Ballroom 

The room where Cinderella meets her prince is a magical place. This Palace Ballroom Backdrop #3057 shows an ornate ballroom with gold leaf, a blue ceiling, and large windows.

Woodland Scenes 

Follow Cinderella as she wanders in the woodlands to escape her evil stepsisters with this Forest Swamp Backdrop # 2509. In the backdrop, you will see large tree trunks and ferns decorate the landscape.

Building the World of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

Winning a ticket to visit a chocolate factory has got to be every child’s ultimate dream! Well, this dream comes true in the play and associated movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based upon the book of the same name by Ronald Dahl. 

This popular show tells the tale of a young boy and his grandfather in their adventure within the walls of the Chocolate Factory. Read on to learn more about the plot and setting options for this production for your theater group. 

A Little Background on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

The story of Charlie and his famed and crazy visit to the Chocolate Factory begins when Willy Wonka decides to let five children into his chocolate factory. The contest he sponsors offers five golden tickets for admission in five separate chocolate bars, causing complete mayhem. 

A young boy named Charlie Bucket is eager to win one of the coveted tickets if only to meet his idol, none other than Mr. Wonka himself! By some miracle, Charlie gathers enough money to purchase a Wonka bar and secures the fifth and last golden ticket. 

On the day of the tour, Wonka welcomes the five children and their parents inside the factory including Charlie and his grandfather. The building itself is created from treats and confections that seem to defy logic and reality. For instance, Oompa-Loompas seem to help run the factory and are constantly singing about the owner and his delightful treats. 

During the tour, the other four children give in to their impulses and are ejected from the tour in darkly comical ways. With only Charlie remaining, Wonka congratulates him for “winning” the factory as he was the only child whose inherent goodness allowed him to pass the test. 

The storyline is both rooted in lessons of life but also comically amazing right down to the last ride in the elevator to Charlie’s home. 

Backdrops and Setting Options 

Over the years the book was adapted into two main productions which follow the same plot for the most part: titled “Willy Wonka” or “Willy Wonka Jr.”

The settings often take place in the home of Charlie Bucket, a poor boy who often has no money to purchase even one candy bar, the inside of the chocolate factory, and the exterior of the factory. 

Charlie Bucket’s Home 

Heartfelt conversations take place at the beginning of the plot of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They often happen in the home of young and poor Charlie Bucket who eventually wins the final ticket to tour the factory with his grandfather. 

This Tenement Street Backdrop # 1727 is a great piece that can display the poverty that Charlie comes from while still allowing for a city setting. 


If you are seeking a more rustic scene this Rustic House Exterior Tab Backdrop # 1596 would also do well as Charlie’s home.

The Chocolate Factory 

Obviously, a large amount of the production takes place in the Chocolate Factory and we have several options for this as well. rustic home

A Chocolate Factory Backdrop #2406 shows the inside of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory showing a chocolate river, chocolate waterfall, and candy landscape.

This bold, stylized city street portrays a brick building and factory with smokestacks called the Factory Street Traveler Backdrop # 0147



Children’s Summer Theater Backdrop Options for The Jungle Book 

The summer months are fast approaching and that means new productions at summer theaters, libraries, and community theaters across the country. Children who love to act, sing, and perform can finally get up on stage and enjoy their summer vacation the way they really want to – under the lights of the theater! 

One of the most beloved children’s stories is the time-honored tale of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The fun characters and animals make for a perfect choice for a children’s summer theater production. Charles Stewart has plentiful options for your backdrops for this crowd-pleasing show! 

A Little Background on The Jungle Book 

Originally published in 1894, The Jungle Book tells the story of a human boy named Mowgli who was raised by animals in the wild.  Set in the forests of India, Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther, and Shere Khan the tiger teach the young boy the “Laws of the Jungle.”

During the epic adventure, the child, who has been mainly raised by wolves, flees the jungle when he is threatened by Shere Khan and embarks on a journey of self-discovery with the help of panther Bagheera and free-spirited bear Baloo.

Along his journey to safety, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa, a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub. Eventually, Mowgli must face his fears and Shere Khan and find a way to return to his wolf family. This includes teaching the animals of the jungle to put out a raging fire and work together rather than fight each other. 

The Forest & Jungle 

To have a successful performance of Kipling’s Jungle Book, actors, crew, and producers must convince the audience that they are in the heart of the jungle of India. To do this, they must add mood lighting, the sounds of a jungle, and (of course) a backdrop that shows the thick jungle that Mowgli has been living in with his animal friends and family. 


Forest Backdrop #2510 shows a lush thick forest that will put your audience members right in the jungle with the actors. The flowering bushes, crowded trees, and overgrown grass give the feel of being in the wild of the jungle. 


Another options for the jungles of India include this backdrop called the Forest Swamp Backdrop # 2509 is great for an alternative jungle location as Mowgli sets off on his epic adventure. 

night moon

The Night Moon Backdrop #2479 sets the mood for nights when Baloo and Mowgli talk about life and the threats from Shere Khan and what they want in this world. 

Jungle Book is a classic tale of adventure and coming to terms with fears and friends. If your theater group is performing this children’s favorite this summer check out our full listing of backdrops to make your performance come to life! 


Interior Victorian Home

Best Backdrops for Beauty & the Beast

It’s hard to imagine that anyone has not heard of the timeless story Beauty and the Beast. As the song says, it’s a ‘tale as old as time.’ From school and theater groups, to community theaters and the bright lights of Broadway, everyone can enjoy the magical world of Disney characters and an expertly written score. 

Check out our entire collection of Beauty and the Beast backdrops that are perfect for your next performance. 

If your theater group is planning a spring musical featuring Beauty and the Beast, it may be time to explore the wide assortment of backdrops that we have here at Charles Stewart. Let’s  take a closer look at the backdrop options that your group may be interested in to make your magical French Village and Mysterious Castle of the Beast come to life. 

The Story of Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast tells the tale of two unlikely love interests; a cursed prince doomed to live his days in his castle in the form of a hideous beast, and Belle, a spirited and intelligent young maiden who lives in a nearby village with her father, Maurice. 

The prince, we know as the Beast, was once a spoiled and selfish man who showed great disdain for anyone who did not fit his standard of beauty. His selfishness knew no bounds as he refused a haggardly older woman safe shelter at the castle one cold night in return for a single red rose. The woman was an Enchantress who told the Prince “not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.”  

She then set a curse on the prince who would be doomed to live as a beastly figure until he could learn to love and be loved. And that is how he lived for years as he waited for each petal of the enchanted rose to fall, which signaled he would remain a beast forever. 

Years later, the volatile prince took Maurice (Belle’s elderly and infirmed father) as his prisoner for trespassing on his castle grounds. When Belle hears of this she offers to take her father’s place as prisoner in the castle. It is during her time with the Beast that she learns to appreciate him and eventually fall deeply in love. She is captivated by the enchanted servants; Mrs. Potts, the tea pot, the magical wardrobe, Madame de la Grande Bouche, Lumiere, the candlesticks, and Cogsworth, the mantle clock. 

The story culminates with the giving and acceptance of love between Belle and the Beast. They also learn the valuable lesson that it’s never too late to change. 

Our Favorite Beauty & The Beast Backdrops 

From the French provincial village where Belle, her father, and the conceited Gaston live, to the cavernous castle that is the Beast’s home for years, Backdrops by Charles Stewart has a wide assortment of backdrops that can make your performance come alive for your characters and audiences alike. 

European street backdropVillage Scenes: The French Village Outside the Beast’s Castle 

Create that quaint village feel with our European Village Backdrop # 2360. This whimsical European village features Tudor style buildings in the center of a European town and distant mountains. You can almost envision Belle as she happily sings while stopping at the shops and visiting with villagers. 

Castle in the Clouds

Forest Scenes 

Discover an enchanted forest right at the doorstep of the Beast’s castle with this Castle in the Clouds Backdrop #2485 with its winding dirt road to an elusive castle in the clouds. 

Palace Ballroom Backdrop

Castle Scenes 

Can you picture Belle as she makes her dramatic entrance down the grand staircase or how Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, or Cogsworth look on as she begins to fall in love with the Beast? This Palace Ballroom Backdrop #3263 is perfect for those moments when Belle and the Beast begin their romance. 

The interior and exterior backdrops for the castle scenes can help make your performance come to life and create a sense of magic as Belle and Beast have their first dance under the twinkling lights of the crystal chandelier. (Palace Ballroom Backdrop #2525)



Frozen Fans Don’t Have to “Let It Go” With Our Favorite Backdrops 

If you or your children are Frozen fans, you know that theater lovers will come from far and wide to see their favorite performance come to life right in front of their eyes. The 2013 Disney blockbuster is still as popular today as it was 8 years ago when it first held us spellbound in the magical Kingdom of Arendelle. 

Whether you are an Anna or Elsa fan, it won’t matter when your theater group performs your rendition of this classic. From Queen Elsa’s ice castle to the streets of Arendelle where Anna longs to be among the people, our backdrops can make your set design realistic and professional. 

Backdrops By Charles H. Stewart is also a superfan of the hit show. We have 52 unique backdrops to help your show come to life. Take a look at the choices we have organized for you today. 

Queen Elsa's Ice Castle

Queen Elsa’s Magical Ice Castle

One of the most iconic moments of any Frozen show is the mountaintop ice castle built by none other than Elsa herself. Some of our most popular backdrops include the snowy forests and the ice castle. 

Our Ice Palace Backdrop # 2469 depicts the interior of a large palace covered in ice with columns and cathedral-like windows. These drops are 18×42 and both for rent or for purchase. Imagine Elsa singing “Let It Go” as she builds her castle with her fingertips. 

Your show will absolutely come to life in the snowy forest as Olaf, the snowman, Anna, and Cristof travel up the North Mountain to talk to Elsa. Some of your favorite scenes are where Olaf sings “Summertime” or Anna falls frozen in the snow and needs the help of the Trolls to revive her. 

Our Snow Forest backdrops #2531 or Winter Trees Tab Backdrop #2392 would make an excellent snowy setting for your forest scene. 

European streets

European Street Backdrops 

Our main characters, Anna and Elsa live in a sheltered mountain kingdom in the city of Arendelle. It is there that we first meet our main characters and hear their family story that leaves them shuttered inside the cold, stony castle. The cobblestone streets are where Anna longs to be on Coronation day and our backdrops deliver just that aesthetic! 

Streets of London

We have several options for just such a setting that looks European and majestic. Our Dickens Street #2310 or European Village backdrop #2359 would be perfect additions to your show! 

Check out all of our options for sale or rent for your next performance of Disney’s Frozen

Did you know?

Broadway Trivia – Teen Edition 

Does your teenager think they know everything about Broadway musicals and shows? Do they sing the lyrics of Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, and Hamilton incessantly? Well, here is a Broadway trivia quiz to keep your teen guessing (and learning). 

We know that many teens think they “know it all,” but can your teen answer these trivia questions about some of Broadway’s all time favorite teen shows? Stump your child today with some of these tricky quiz questions. 

Favorite Broadway Shows for Teens 

Teen-centric narratives have been a part of Broadway dating back many decades, some would say even to the beginning of theater itself. 

According to Broadway Direct, an online source for shows and tickets to some of Broadway’s most popular performances, there are many shows that appeal to the teen age group but none such as: Wicked, Mean Girls, Beetlejuice, and Dear Evan Hansen

Wicked, based loosely on the Wizard of Oz, helps teens look at issues such as identity and morality, while a show like Dear Evan Hansen examines the problems that are encountered when a teen gets caught up in lies trying to fit in. Mean Girls explores the troubles of teens navigating the cliques of high school. Beetlejuice is perfect for teens who feel like the odd man out and are looking for a way to make the most of their life, or afterlife. 

Times Square NYC

Stump Your Teen 

Here are a few questions from musicals and shows that you can use to quiz your teen. 

  1. Where does Hairspray take place? Baltimore
  2. Which song is NOT from WickedPopular, Defying Gravity, Dancing Through Life or A Change in Me
  3. Which Disney film has NOT been turned into a Broadway musical?  Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin or The Little Mermaid
  4. Which of these is NOT a rock musical? School of Rock, Hamilton, Rent, or Rock of Ages
  5. Which musical was not based on a film?  Dear Evan Hansen, Pretty Woman, Young Frankenstein, Legally Blonde the Musical
  6. Spamalot was based on what show? Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  7. Mamma Mia is based on the music of which Swedish pop group? ABBA
  8. Which smash hit musical tells the story of the founding fathers of the United States? Hamilton
  9. What is the name of the carnivorous Venus flytrap plant in Little Shop of Horrors? Audrey II
  10. The musical West Side Story, which tells the story of rival gangs in New York City’s Upper West Side, is based on which Shakespeare play? Romeo & Juliette
  11. What was Disney’s first Broadway musical? Beauty & The Beast
  12. Which musical features a group of drama students at New York’s High School for the Performing Arts? Fame 
  13. Which Disney musical features the song ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’? Mary Poppins
  14. Name the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony-award-winning composer of musicals such as Cats, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar. Andrew Llyod Webber 
  15. Which musical, adapted from a novel by Victor Hugo, features characters such as Jean Valjean, Cosette and Javert? Les Miserables


smiling dad and daughter

Does Theater Make Us Better People? 

In a May 2021 Op-Ed article in the Los Angeles Times, authors Steve Rathje, Leor Hackel, and Jamile Zaki made the case that experiencing the magic of theater makes us collectively better people. We love this concept and wanted to explore this a bit further now that the theater industry is coming back after 18 months of being shut down due to the coronavirus. 

holding hands

Why Theater Makes Us Better? 

According to Rathje, Hackel, and Zaki, theater makes us better people because, “it is a vital way to build psychological skills — especially empathy, or our ability to share, understand and care about others’ emotions.”

At the heart of their article they pose the question, “Can watching theater actually build people’s capacity to care?” There’s actually some scientific research that has been done that supports this idea. 

In a nutshell, over 1,600 surveys were given to theatergoers before and after performances in two major cities; New York City and Portland, Oregon. 

The viewers watched either “Skeleton Crew,” written by Dominique Morisseau or “Wolf Play” by Hansol Jung. The former being about auto workers in Detroit at the start of the financial crisis and the latter revolving around the struggles of a a lesbian couple trying to adopt a child. 

In both cases the surveys were meant to determine if empathy for the auto workers or lesbian couple increased due to experiencing the show based on those stories. 

The findings were exactly what the authors believed, theater can make us better, more empathetic, caring people. “After seeing the plays, we found that audience members expressed more empathy for the groups depicted onstage and changed their attitudes about a wide range of political issues.”

The study even showed a change in behavior for the theatergoers who increased their donations to a charity. The way this part of the experiment works went as follows: 

  • Audience members were given the option to donate some of their payment money to a charity. 
  • The more they gave to a charity the less they would receive in the form of a gift card. 
  • After seeing the plays, audience members donated more to charity regardless of whether the charity was related to the plays.

couple at sunset

Psychologists Weigh In 

Historically, psychologists have believed that theater has the power to teach about current topics, help viewers change their attitudes, build psychological skills, and reduce prejudice. 

Psychological skills such as empathy, compassion, and sharing can be built just by merely experiencing a show. The authors of the LA Op-Ed explained theater as a sort of “empathy-gym” where the brain is taught to strengthen the skills of empathy and compassion towards others by experiencing what they feel through a show or musical. 

Additionally, theater can help change our attitudes and reduce prejudices just by “walking in someone else’s shoes” during a performance. The experience allows people to understand someone else’s circumstances and experience life from someone else’s perspective. 

What do you think? Can theater help us become better, more empathetic people? Drop us a line below and let us know your thoughts. 


Most Popular High School Musicals & Plays – Part 2

Last week we explored the most popular high school musicals including: The Addams Family, Mama Mia, and Beauty and the Beast. Now we shift our sights toward plays that have ranked in the top 10 according to an NPR Education Performance poll

One of these delightful shows may make it on your short list for this year’s performances. Enjoy our resources and remember that our backdrops coordinate with major shows to make your scenery come to life. 

Sherlock Holmes

Top Ranking Plays 

There are so many great plays out there that deciding on one for your group of teens can be a long and difficult process. Here are three of the top ranking plays that your group may fall in love with including: Clue, Almost, Maine, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream.  We have included general information on the number of cast members and ensemble requirements for your planning purposes. 


Based upon the Hasbro board game and the 1985 Paramount movie of the same name, Clue is a beloved murder mystery story with a comedic twist. According to Broadway Licensing, Clue tells the story of a dinner party gone wrong when the host turns up dead.

The main characters, Wadsworth, the butler, Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock and Colonel Mustard race to find the killer as the body count stacks up.

Almost, Maine 

Set in a remote and mythical town, Amost, Maine is a series of nine short plays that examines the themes of love and loss. The main characters, residents of Almost, Maine, find themselves falling in and out of love in various and sometimes hilarious manners. 

Almost, Maine set box office records and has been adapted into a book of the same name. Your students are sure to love this quirky and thoughtful play. 

Casting for this play is flexible and can range from four main actors taking on several parts or 19 actors taking individual roles. 

A Midsummer’s Night Dream 

In this Shakespeare play, the theme of love resurfaces again and again. Set in Athens, Greece, the plot of this complex play revolves around the planning of the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta

Subplots, (and there are many,) follow two Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors rehearsing for the wedding day, who find themselves in a forest inhabited by fairies. 

Like every great Shakepearian play, there is conflict, love, and eventual resolution, sometimes with hilarious outcomes. Your students will love the challenge this complex layered play will provide. 

Even with the pause from last year during the pandemic, high school musicals and plays are as popular as ever. Check out the lists from Playbill that rank the top musicals and plays. You are sure to find one that fits the skills, size, and depth of the acting provided in your school. 


high school musical

Most Popular High School Musicals & Plays – Part 1

Oh, how we have missed traditional high school musicals and play performances coming out of the nation’s secondary schools this past year. This type of performance is often a young person’s first outlet or foray into expressing themselves or their art. In fact, many young people get the theater “bug” during their high school years and go on to act for years to come. 

According to a study released by NPR Education Publishing, there are ten top shows that rank as the best musicals and plays for high school level performances. This takes into account the size of the cast, skill set needed, and popularity of the storyline. Theater groups, directors, and producers may want to utilize some of these findings as they begin their search for the perfect show this fall or winter. 

Let’s take a look back at some of the most popular high school plays and musicals to give you inspiration to plan your next performance. 

Top Ranking Musicals 

In the category of highest ranking musicals, the top three include: The Addams Family, Mama Mia, and Beauty and the Beast. Just hearing those names has my toes tapping and some catchy lyrics spinning around in my head. 

The Addams Family 

A comedic marvel, the Addams Family celebrates the quirky differences that every family experiences. The story unfolds as daughter, Wednesday, brings home a “normal” boy who must impress her parents as he begins to date their special daughter. The Addams family requires 10 major roles with a flexible ensemble. The licensing belongs to Theatrical Rights Worldwide

Mama Mia 

Set on a beautiful Greek island, Mama Mia tells the story of a young bride-to-be trying to determine who her real father is. The bride discovers that three men are possible matches to be her true father. The story is told using the hit songs by 1970’s singing group ABBA. 

The cast includes 13 main parts with singing roles and a large ensemble that will need dancing and choreography skills. If this musical sounds like it is one your students would love, the licensing belongs to Music Theater International

Beauty and the Beast 

This favorite musical explores the true meaning of loving someone for what is inside rather than just their appearance. Beauty and the Beast follows the unlikely love story of a village girl who was determined to save the life of her father from the grotesque Beast. She then finds out that everyone has a story and that the Beast is no beast after all. 

The cast includes 12 major roles and a very large ensemble with dancing and choreography skills. If your theater group is interested in this show it is licensed by Music Theater International

Want the complete list of rankings for high school musicals? Check out these resources that can help you determine your shows this year. Don’t forget to check out our scenery and backdrop options that correspond to each show.