Kids and live theatre don’t always mix. You’ve got to have the right kind of show, setting and timing, or any number of things (inappropriate outbursts, utter boredom, or worse–a lifelong distaste for the theatre) could occur.
Kicking off this Saturday, Jan. 21, the Rosenthal Next Generation Theatre Series provides a perfect venue for Cincinnati-area kids to experience and enjoy live theatre. For this series, the renowned Playhouse in the Park has lined up weekly shows featuring dynamic storytellers, marionettes and other puppeteers, musicians and other performers.
Each Saturday show runs from a half-hour to an hour and is performed twice, at 10:30 a.m. and again at 1 p.m., in the Rosenthal Plaza between the Marx and Shelterhouse theatres. Kids ages 4 and up can watch from the comfort of purple cushions on the floor, while parents and younger siblings in their laps can sit in chairs.
Perhaps the best aspect of the Rosenthal Series — apart from the performances themselves — is the price. Tickets are only $5 for youth ages 4 to 18 and $6 for adults. For top-notch live theatre in a great theatre, you simply can’t beat that. (There’s even one show that’s free to attend! Scroll down to the Feb. 12 Aesop Bops! description for more information.)
Here’s an overview of the performances slated for the 2011 series, courtesy of the Playhouse in the Park:
Saturday, January 22
A brilliant storyteller, LuAnn Adams is a long-time favorite with parents and children in our community. This year marks her 19th appearance at the Playhouse. Featuring Native American folklore and tales from the rainforest, these multicultural stories celebrate the relationship between people, animals and the amazing world we share. LuAnn’s infectious joy and ability to adjust each show to the children present captivates everyone in the audience — no matter their age.
Saturday, January 29
A two-time Grammy Award-winning artist, recipient of the Magic Penny Award from the Children’s Music Network and an NPR commentator, Bill Harley uses songs and stories in his family concert to paint a vibrant and hilarious picture of growing up. Joyous, honest and slightly off-center, Bill’s world of wit and wisdom spans the generation gap.
Saturday, February 5
The Wild West is back! The famous Annie Oakley stars in her own Wild West Show. Hilarious characters, tall tales and spine-tingling stunts bring American history to life like never before. In this production, the only things taller than these tales are the giant puppets. The trademark originality and amazing puppet of Cincinnati’s own Madcap Puppets have charmed and engaged audiences across the nation. (My 4-year-old daughter and I caught this show at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center‘s Second Sunday Family Showtime a few months back, and we both really enjoyed it. Read Shannan’s post about the CCAC and its family-friendly offerings.)
Saturday, February 12
Internationally acclaimed master storyteller and performer David Gonzalez keeps the ancient art of storytelling alive with speech, sound, mime, dance and, above all, inspired imagination. Fast-paced, funny and packed with audience participation, Aesop Bops! features a potpourri of Aesop’s classic stories, including The Lion and the Mouse and The Fisherman and His Wife. This feast of funky, physical storytelling leaves young audiences feeling like they just performed the show, too. These two performances are FREE as part of ArtsWave Sampler Weekends, sponsored by Macy’s. No reservations necessary.
Saturday, February 19
Art, music, drama and American folk culture come together in this musical nature-tale featuring the Catskill Puppet Theatre‘s huge, talking sun face that’s 7 feet in diameter with movable mouth and eyes. When Sister Rain becomes jealous of Brother Sun and stops watering the Earth, Mother Nature and the audience join forces to save the day. The story is brought to life by large, animated rod puppets with finely chiseled features, colorful sets and costumes and lots of audience participation.
Saturday, February 26
Take a wild trip into the jungles of Brazil and Africa. Using his own distinctive blend of narrative and movement, Antonio Rocha draws from his repertoire of animal tales with ecological themes and a myriad of fantastic sound effects to entertain and educate. A native of Brazil, Antonio has performed his unique solo shows of stories and mime in ten countries on five continents.
Saturday, March 5
Beautifully hand-crafted marionettes come to life as the dramatic events of this classic tale unfold. At the christening of Princess Aurora, the wicked witch arrives and curses the princess. Will the curse come true? Will someone with a “true heart” appear to save her? Find out as Tanglewood Marionettes present this timeless favorite, featuring a painted story book that opens to reveal each scene.
Saturday, March 12
Interweaving chants, songs, music and movement, storyteller Diane Macklin uses the African tradition of storytelling to engage the imagination of young audiences. Through tales of tricksters and friendship, her fabulous characters with claws, paws, fins, feet and wings highlight American diversity. Diane’s dynamic style integrates her theatrical presence, dancing hands and lyrical voice to create a unique story experience not to be missed.