Tag Archives: Encore Stage

Hot Tickets for Winter Entertainment

Get out of the cold and into the theatres (or, in at least one case, basketball arena) this winter!  From children’s plays and puppet shows to symphonies for kids to classic tales on ice to acrobatic hoops, there’s live entertainment to indulge every interest.  Here are details on what you can see on local stages, with most descriptions pulled straight from the websites.

Dr. Doo-Little
Where: Imagination Stage
When: Through January 8
Tickets: $10-22
Hugh Lofting is a Lieutenant in the British Army. In his letters to his son, he tells exciting stories about an eccentric doctor who can talk to animals! Dr. Dolittle has abandoned his traditional medical practice in favor of feathered, four legged, furry, ferocious, and in some cases, fantastical beasts. His profession leads him to Africa where he and his young apprentice encounter clever monkeys, giant elephants, lion cubs and even the wicked pirate Ben Ali! Through his unconventional methods, Dr. Dolittle must bring peace to all the warring creatures.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Through January 8
Tickets: $20
Chock full of adventure, song, and gigantic dancing laundry, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical tells a tale of firsts: a stuffed animal’s first trip to the laundry, a little girl’s first words, and a Daddy’s first time dealing with his child going “boneless.” Based on his beloved Caldecott Honor–winning picture book, six-time Emmy Award winner Mo Willems joins Grammy Award(r)–winning composer Michael Silversher to lovingly celebrate the heart and heartache that can only come from a family visit to the local Laundromat. Praised as “a suds-related yarn with such wit and sprightliness that you’re half-inclined to swing by the nearest coin-operated front loader and feed it all your quarters, just for the fun of it,” by the Washington Post following its 2010 premiere, this fun musical is back by popular demand. Recommended for age 4 and up.

Mouse on the Move
Where: Imagination Stage
When: January 5 – February 5
Tickets: $10
Nellie and Amelia are two adventurous mice ready to explore the world beyond their little mouse-hole. They decide to go to the moon, since it is cat-free and made entirely of delicious, mouth-watering cheese. In this world premiere interactive play, there are many opportunities for audience participation. Join as they all try to reach beyond the stars. Recommended for ages 1-5.

Darius the Dragon & Rap-Punzel
Where: Encore Stage
When: January 6-15
Tickets: $12/adults, $10/children
What happens when the tale of a goofy dragon is paired with the story of an imprisoned princess? An afternoon at the theatre guaranteed to entertain the whole family! For the first time ever, Encore is thrilled to offer you two shows in one afternoon! First, Darius the Dragon enjoys his home in a quiet, peaceful cave — until it is destroyed by a bulldozer! Homeless and frightened, Darius must brave the noise and pollution of the 21st century and lead his new friends in a crusade to find the king of this strange new land. Next up, when a loving husband is caught stealing from a garden, he and his wife are forced to give their daughter to the witch next door. The witch raises the girl high in a tower where she yearns for life beyond her window sill. Join us for the classic tale of Rapunzel — told entirely in a rhythmic rhyming style! Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Airborne Comedians
Where: Alden Theatre
When: January 7
Tickets: $15/McLean residents, $20/non-residents

Enjoy gravity defying entertainment as the Airborne Comedians juggle electric guitars, lawn chairs and other seemingly non-juggleables. This pair is a sure bet to make you laugh.

Saturday Mornings at the National
Where: National Theatre
When: Most Saturdays through April 28
Tickets: Free, but required. Distributed day of on first-come, first-served basis.
The free theatre program began runs on select Saturdays through the spring. Musicals, plays, storytelling, and comedy shows are all part of the live entertainment line-up. See the complete schedule of performances here.

Peter & The Wolf
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: January 13 – February 19
Tickets: $10
One of The Puppet Co.’s best loved stories, this performance starts with an introduction to musical instruments used to signify each of the character, then blends into the story of Peter and his animal friends’ attempts to capture wily wolf “Old Lupus.” The one-man show, performed by puppetmaster Christopher Piper, is based on Russia’s popular tale of good versus evil and staged with half life-size marionettes. This production is a new approach to the old tale, using character dialogue rather than narrative to develop the plot. Recommended for pre-K and up.

Alladin, Jr.
Where: Burke Community Church
When: January 13, 14, 20, & 21
Tickets: $10

Welcome to Agrabah, City of Enchantment, where every beggar has a story and every camel has a tail! The Northern Virginia Players is pleased to announce their next show Aladdin, Jr. Filled with magic, mayhem, and flying carpet rides, audiences’ spirits will soar with excitement. This Academy award-winning show will thrill audiences of all ages. Northern Virginia Players and the cast of Aladdin Jr will make this musical a favorite for many years to come.

NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Teddy and the Ten Hats
Where: Kennedy Center
When: January 14
Tickets: $18
What’s a bear to wear when he has ten hats but only one head? The answer to that puzzle is in the music of this cute Teddy Bear Concert about a fuzzy fella with a zany collection of hats that represent a wide variety of music from Haydn to Sousa and beyond. Part dress-up party, part musical travelogue, kids can travel across styles and borders in these concerts presented by NSO musicians Aaron Goldman on flute, William Wielgus on oboe, and Janet Frank on cello. Recommended for ages 3 to 5, kids can bring their favorite stuffed animal to these interactive programs and have their teddy bear friend join in all the fun. And get there early for “Musical Playtime.” Starting 45 minutes before each Teddy Bear Concert, enjoy music and movement activities especially designed for small children.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Starting 1/18 – most Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays at 10am
Tickets: $5
The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). They are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

How Old is a Hero?
Where: Discovery Theater
When: January 20 & 25
Tickets: $3-8
See this terrific touring show before it goes on the road. Meet Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine, the first black student to graduate from an integrated high school; Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her bus seat before Rosa Parks; and Ruby Bridges, who won equal rights before she could read. Learn about their compelling experiences and be inspired by the courage and hope of our youngest citizens The show features moving archival Civil Rights recordings.

The Snowy Day
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: January 20 – February 12
Tickets: $18
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first American picture book that featured an African-American child as the main character. The simple tale of a boy waking up to discover that snow has fallen during the night is brought to life in the magical world premiere. Peter celebrates the snow-draped inner city with a day of adventures-experimenting with footprints, knocking snow from a tree, creating snow angels, and trying to save a snowball for the next day.

The Wright Brothers: A Musical Play With Rainbow Puppet Productions
Where: Discovery Theater
When: January 26-27
Tickets: $3-8
Experience the fun of man’s first powered flight, presented by Rainbow Puppet Productions. This inspirational story about hard work and determination is told through lively songs and a variety of puppetry styles: hand, rod, and shadow. Recommended for ages 2-10.

P. Nokio
Where: Imagination Stage
When: February 1 – March 11
Tickets: $10-22
G.Petto is an ingenious designer of computer games who works for the evil Machine Master. One day he discovers that his new character, P.Nokio, can escape the computer! G.Petto is delighted at the prospect of having a “son.” With the help of the Graffiti Fairy, he sets out to teach P.Nokio how to become a real boy by attending the Old School and studying the art of rhyme. Unfortunately, P.Nokio is tempted by The Way of Fun and Trouble and The Land of Fools. He finds himself in the company of con artists and in a tangle of lies that endanger his newfound father. To save G.Petto from Machine Master, P.Nokio must wise up, keep it real and learn that words and truth are the mightiest. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Teen Ensemble: Romeo and Juliet
Where: Synetic Theater
When: February 3-4
Tickets: $15
The teens of Synetic Studio will perform the Shakespearean classic in the Synetic style under the direction of Senior Company Member Ryan Sellers and assisted by Alex Mills and Ben Cunis.

The Wings of Ikarus Jackson
Where: Kennedy Center
When: February 4-19
Tickets: $18
There is something puzzling about the new boy at school. Instead of a backpack, Ikarus Jackson has a feathery white set of wings and can fly. To get away from the kids who are taunting him for his uniquely feathered look, Ikarus soars through the city, over rooftops and playgrounds, like a slow-motion instant replay. Just when he thinks he’s all alone, a brave schoolgirl tells him what someone should have from the start: “your flying is beautiful.” Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Christopher Myers’s colorful and lovingly assembled collage-illustrated children’s book comes to life as an all-new dance-theater piece. For ages 8 and up.

Three Bears
Where: 1st Stage Theatre
When: February 9 – March 4
Tickets: $15
This brand-new play offers a comedic twist on the classic fairy tale and sends the Three Bears and a golden-haired friend on an all-new, a cappella musical adventure. The show is fast-paced, furry fun for the families. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic
Where: Verizon Center
When: February 15-20
Tickets: $20-75

Join the celebration as 65 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many of the Disney Princesses. Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!

Tot Rock: Jammin’ at the Smithsonian presents Rocknoceros
Where: Discovery Theater
When: February 23
Tickets: $3-6

Discovery Theater favorites Coach, Williebob, and Boogie Woogie Bennie return to party with us and sing brand new songs from their recently released album, Colonel Purple Turtle. Don’t worry, they’ll also sing some of your old favorites, and we’ll have fun together like we always do when these great kids’ musicians visit us on The Mall. Their new CD and companion book will be on sale after the show.

Intersections: A New America Arts Festival
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: February 23 – March 11
Tickets: Vary by Performance
The Atlas Performing Art Center’s celebration of art as a form of connection and communication will include several family-friendly performances through it’s two and a half week run, including an interactive play, a jazz show, canine entertainment, drumming performances, and more.

The Magic Flute
Where: The Puppet Co. Playhouse
When: February 24 – March 11
Tickets: $10
The Puppet Co.’s most elaborate full marionette production. Christopher Piper’s adaptation of Mozart’s fantasy opera is a clear, understandable hour of beautiful music, dazzling special effects, and exquisite marionettes in fantastic animal shapes. Sung on tape in English by a talented local group of professional singers, this is the perfect introduction for children to great music. In this version of the story, the hero, Prince Tamino, is lost in a strange land. He meets a birdcatcher called Papageno. Together they are confronted by the Queen of the Night who begs Tamino to rescue her daughter Pamina who is being held captive by the evil Sarastro.
Tamino and Papageno travel to Sarastro’s realm and find Pamino. Then they meet Sarastro and discover that he is not evil, but a kindly ruler. Sarastro senses that Tamino and Pamino love each other and tells Tamino that if he can survive three trials that the couple will rule in harmony over the realm in his place. Recommended for grades 1 and up.

Culkin School of Irish Dance
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: March 3, 1pm & 3pm
Tickets: $12
Families will thrill to the athletic and artistic dancing by the talented students of this beloved Washington area institution. Culkin dancers have performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center and many local festivals. You’ll want to tap along in your seat! Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Out of the Box
Where: Landmark Mall & Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: March 1-18 (Landmark) & March 20-25 (Atlas)
Tickets: $8, free for 12 months and under
Follow an energetic young girl named PJ, as she discovers the possibilities one box can hold. With the everyday items she finds in the box, PJ transports the audience into her imaginary world filled with new places and sounds to explore. One room can hold an entire ocean; one box, an entire cave; 3 stuffed animals can be friends and fellow adventurers; and home takes on a new meaning. Out of the Box is infused with magic that comes from the young audience’s willingness to use their imaginations and play. Using music, sounds, and gentle interaction, PJ will engage children and adults in crafting this delightful and fun-filled world together.This world premiere production is a 30-minute, interactive, non-verbal show featuring an adult actor and musical accompaniment by an upright bass player.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: March 2 – April 9
Tickets: $18
Alexander is having a bad day. A terrible day. A horrible day. To be quite honest, it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But then, everybody has bad days, sometimes. Not only does Alexander wake up with gum in his hair, but his mother forgets to pack him dessert, and his best friend decides he’s not his best friend anymore. And if that’s not bad enough, Alexander’s brothers don’t have any cavities but—he does. And just when it can’t get any worse, there are lima beans for supper and —yuck!—kissing on TV. It is enough to make anyone want to go to Australia. Uuuugggghhh. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

NSO Family Concert: The Mozart Experience with Magic Circle Mime Company
Where: Kennedy Center
When: March 4
Tickets: $15-18
See the life of Mozart come together–one piece at a time–when Magic Circle Mime Company rejoins the NSO to perform The Mozart Experience. When a mischievous street musician is caught playing the orchestra’s grand piano, she is surprised to not receive a scolding from the conductor, but instead an invitation to “be Mozart” in this program about one of the most famous composers of all time. The street musician and her prankster companion must now confront dilemmas and opportunities similar to those faced by Mozart himself. In doing so, the audience experiences Mozart’s life as a very human story–as well as a great musical adventure! Recommended for ages 5 and up.

The Magic Lamp of Alladin
Where: By Encore Stage at Kenmore Middle School
When: March 9-18
Tickets: $12/adults, $10/children
In this thrilling tale, the adventurous Aladdin crosses paths with the evil magician Jammal and his wicked sister Halima. Only with the help of his clever monkey, Alakazam, the crafty Princess Jasmine and, not one, but three comical genies, can Aladdin prevent his magic lamp from falling into the wrong hands. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Verizon Center & Patriot Center
When: March 24-25
Tickets: $19.95-144.50

The World Famous Harlem Globetrotters bring their ridiculous basketball skills and amazing athletes to the Washington, DC-Metro area for three fun family shows!

 

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The Weekend Round-Up: November 11-13

The Bright Beneath, an exhibit inspired by bioluminescence, at the Museum of Natural History

 

With Veterans Day conveniently falling on a Friday this year, we get to start the weekend a little early. While most of the activities listed here are happening Saturday and Sunday, they may spark some ideas for things to do today. Or you can check this post from a few days ago for suggestions on where to spend the day off from school. Whatever you and the kids do, enjoy the extra time together. Happy Weekend!

LEGO® Robots!See the classic toys come to life and solve problems of food safety at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art, where the First LEGO® League Tournament is being held on Saturday from 11:30am – 5pm. Cheer on your favorite team and their student-designed robots, built from LEGOS, as they complete various tasks and tackle real-world engineering challenges.  There will also be music, demos, and more activities, all in the museum’s Kogod Courtyard.

Light PaintingOn Saturday from 1-3pm, learn about light in the ocean depths at the National Museum of Natural History’s monthly Second Saturday Arts & Sciences program. Using glow sticks, guests will create a deep-sea organisms as they discover the process of bioluminescence. Afterward, explore the related exhibit, “The Bright Beneath: The Luminous Art of Shih Shieh Huang.”

Stage Time – You have your pick of kids shows this weekend. Encore Studios presents Robin Hood for its second and final weekend at Artisphere’s Sprectrum Theatre. The Rough-Faced Girl: A Native American Cinderella Story opens at Synetic Family Theater. This is the last weekend of The Three Billy Goats Gruff at The Puppet Co. And Imagination Stage presents What Does Red Do on Thursdays?, a new theater experience for ages 3 and up. Visit the websites for more info and to purchase tickets.

Saturday Morning at the National – Trick shot artist Spencer “Spinn” Johnson takes to the Helen Hayes stage at the National Theatre’s weekly series. Kids are invited to step up and participate in dazzling fast-action tricks that teach inspiring lessons in confidence, goal-setting, and self-respect. Performances take place at 9:30am and 11am, and tickets are required for admission. Free tickets are distributed half an hour prior to the start of shows on a first-come first-served basis. Only one ticket per person, and all attendees must be standing in line to receive a ticket. Children must be accompanied by an adult, who remains present for the entire performance. Seating is limited, so get there early!

Georgetown Story TownGet lost in a good book and let the imagination run wild on at Georgetown’s “Social” Safeway as they partner with the Georgetown Library for the first-ever “Georgetown Story Town.” From 10:30-11:30am on Saturday, kids can experience the fun and excitement that books have to offer. Recommended for ages 4-11.  Refreshments from the Georgetown Safeway Bakery will follow.

The Moon & BeyondIt’s Super Science Saturday at the Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. During this session of the monthly program, visitors of all ages will become immersed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics topics related to aviation and space exploration through demonstrations and hands-on activities. Drop in between 10am and 3pm. Admission is free, though parking is $15.

A Day of Building StoriesVisitors can activate their imaginations at the National Building Museum by creating their own book with author Isabel Hill as she shares her stories, technique, and experience as an architectural photographer. Guests will discover the stories behind our local Judiciary Square buildings and the museum, then sketch and bring out their inner artists. The $15/member, $20/non-member registration fee includes a signed copy of Ms. Hill’s newest book, Building Stories.  Recommended for ages 7 and up, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. The workshops place on Sunday from 10:30am – 12pm.

Free ParkingThere’s no entrance fee to national parks that usually charge admission this weekend, so it’s a good time to hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive to see the mountains covered in autumn colors, or visit Harpers Ferry. See the full list of participating parks here.

Happy Birthday, Pizza Paradiso!The popular pizza place is turning 20, and among the week’s celebration is a Family Day on Sunday at their Alexandria location. From 1-4pm, kids can participate in a Make Your Own Pizza demonstration with Chef Ruth Gresser, and the first 20 kids’ pizzas are free.

And these posts are always chock full of ideas for more family fun, both outdoors and in:

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun)

 

 

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The Weekend Round-Up: November 4-6

A fall frolic on the National Mall.

 

These post-Halloween days are almost as enjoyable as the extravaganza itself. After weeks of costume discussions, trick-or-treat planning, and candy hiding (mostly from myself) so it’s not eaten before the big day, this respite between major holidays is welcome.  It won’t last long, as preparations for winter festivities are about to begin. (And I’ll be posting about them soon, but wanted to give you a chance to untie ghosts from trees and dispose of rotting pumpkins). So, in the meantime, enjoy these next few autumn days. Here are some ideas of where to do it. Happy Weekend!

Think Outside… – These splendid fall days are going to be fewer and farther between soon, so my top recommendation is to get out and enjoy them while you can. Do a quintessential DC outing and tour the memorials on the Mall. Go leaf peeping in the National Arboretum or explore the sprawling grounds of Brookside Gardens.  Hike amid brilliant foliage at Great Falls or Riverbend Park. Play the day away Cabin John Regional Park. The options are abundant, and you can find even more in KFDC’s list of The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids.

Smashing Pumpkins – Now that Halloween is over, you can get rid of those jack-o-lanterns that are starting to cave in on themselves on the front porch. And you can have a good time doing it at Great Country Farms’s Punkin’ Chunkin’.  Do the honors on their Silo Drop or Zip Wire Sploosh, or bring it to their Pumpkin Drop Zone to be added to the “fireworks display” as pumpkins are dropped from a 40-foot lift in the parking lot. And while you’re there, enjoy the rest of the farm’s attractions — cow trains, swings, slides, mazes — before the amusement shuts down for the winter.  Open from 10am – 5pm. Admission is $10/adults, $8/children.

Euro EntertainmentWe’re in the last week of the Kids Euro Festival, the program bringing a month of free continental artistic adventures to venues all over DC. This weekend see “A Cat in Paris” at AFI, “The Seasons of Palina” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, several performances on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, and much, much more. Check the schedule for times and details.

Rock Out with Recess MonkeySeattle’s celebrated band of teacher-rockers is coming to DC this weekend to perform three shows at two different venues. First, they are playing a free concert on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage on Saturday at 6pm.  For shows that might work better with little ones’ schedules, see them on Sunday, November 6, at Jammin’ Java at 11am or 2pm.  Tickets are $10 and available for purchase online.

Happy 90th, Phillips Collection!The museum housing masterpieces from some of the world’s most famous artists probably isn’t exactly a go-to spot for a day out with little ones.  But this Saturday is an exception. It’s the gallery’s 90th birthday/anniversary, and they’re celebrating with an all-day bash that includes free activities, gallery talks, and performances for the whole family. Cupcake favors will be handed out while they last, ballet students will be practicing among Degas paintings, an accordionist and a cappella group will perform for guests, and even more will be happening throughout the day from 10am – 8pm.  See the schedule for times and details.

Celebrate American Indian HeritageAmerican Indian leaders, traditions, and arts are commemorated on U.S. postage stamps, and the National Postal Museum is celebrating them with a day of activities for kids. Learn about American Indians on postage stamps; make a topical stamp collection; and enjoy storytime with a book about Sequoyah, the Cherokee man who gave his people written language. Join in the fun on Saturday from aam – 2pm.

Robin Hood  – Encore Stage’s production of the classic tale opens on Friday at 7:30pm, and there will be several shows to follow this weekend and next. Here’s what’s special about Encore’s performances: They are for children by children. Yes, it’s mostly a youth cast, and if their production of The Wizard of Oz is any indication, these kids will put on quite a show. The play will be performed at Artisphere’s Spectrum Theatre, tickets are $12/adults, $10/children and can be purchased online.

Children’s Flea MarketScore a few bargains and support some entrepreneurial kids at the McLean Community Center on Saturday from 11am – 1pm. Young vendors will have a variety of gently used items for sale.  A donation truck will be on hand after the event to take any unsold items.

NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Tunes ‘n’ (Pig) TalesEnjoy stories and music all about animals in this Teddy Bear Concert featuring The Three Pigs, Teddy Bear Rag, The Swan, and Baby Elephant Walk. Performed with a very unusual combination of instruments, NSO principal musicians Marissa Regni on violin and Dotian Levalier on harp join with Marissa’s father Albert Regni on four different saxophones to give each animal its own unique voice. And as a “little” surprise, along with full-sized instruments, the musicians perform on their miniature counterparts – a toy piano, a sopranino saxophone, and a tiny violin. Recommended for ages 3 to 5.  Tickets are $18.

Theatre on Strings – Take the kids to a puppet show at Glen Echo Park where The Three Billy Goats Gruff is currently being performed on Main Stage. Showtimes are 11:30am and 1pm Saturday and Sunday, recommended for pre-K and up. Tickets are $10 and available for purchase online.

Portrait Story Days – Drop in at the National Portrait Gallery from 1-4pm on Saturday and Sunday to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. This weekend, learn about Chief Joseph (1840-1904), chief of the Nez Perce.

America’s Got Talent AuditionsIs your child a star in the making? Well, here’s a chance to show the nation. America’s Got Talent is holding their DC auditions Saturday and Sunday at the Washington Convention Center, and kids (and adults!) of all ages are invited to try out for the show.  Doors open at 8am and close by 7pm.  Pre-registration and more info is available here.

 

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A Tale of Two Wizards (of Oz)

Dorothy and crew from The Puppet Co.'s "The Wizard of Oz"

 

It might seem kind of odd to see the same story performed on stage twice in one weekend. But with two productions of “The Wizard of Oz” opening simultaneously and a family vacation looming, it was my only chance to catch both to post timely reviews.

Turns out, it couldn’t have worked out better.  The hot weekend was a great time to be in the cool AC of the theatres. And the productions, a play by Encore Stage’s Act III division and The Puppet Co.’s handmade version, were vastly different, which actually added a neat twist to the theatre experience for both Owen, my trusty theatre review partner, and me.

Viewing two versions of the tale so close together was a rare opportunity to compare the unique interpretations and performances of the story.  (Sasha tried to join us for the puppet show, but at two and a half, she was more focused on having a snack — a no-no in the theater — than on the stage, so my husband took her to the Glen Echo playground instead.)

First up was Encore Stage’s performance on Saturday afternoon. I won’t beat around the bush:  This play was fantastic!  Performed mostly by young actors, some possibly as young as five-year-old Owen, the production showcased some truly wonderful talent.  The acting, singing, and dancing of the cast was remarkably impressive, commanding the attention of the audience for the entire show.

On the way there, I’d given Owen some background on the story just in case it was hard to follow on stage. It only took minutes into the show to realize that wasn’t necessary, as Encore Stage lived up to its “Theatre by kids, for kids of all ages” motto. The show catered to the audience of both children and adults with fun musical numbers (Dorothy’s welcome to Emerald City was a brilliant start), a creative set, and fun (and funny) “theatre magic” to pull off some of the special effects (the melting witch was a riot). And I have to give a virtual standing ovation to the Cowardly Lion, who gave an outstanding performance.

The entire production is about two hours long, with two approximately 50-minute acts and a 20-minute intermission in between.  The show only runs for one more weekend, July 29-31, with performances Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm. Kids ages four and up would probably enjoy it most. Tickets are $15/adult, $10/children and can be purchased online.

Preparing for The Puppet Co.’s show on Sunday was a little different than the day before.  Now a veteran viewer of “The Wizard of Oz,” Owen was excited to bring his  expert perspective to the show.  We’ve seen many productions at the Glen Echo theatre, and I always appreciate their quirky way of presenting classic stories (though I guess any show that includes characters who are part puppet-part person can’t be anything but). This time they do it with live actors “telling a story within a story” using an array of mediums–table top puppets, masks, marionettes, and moving-mouth puppets.  And those puppet-human hybrids make appearances, too, with terrifically amusing renditions of the much adored munchkins.

While I found the production easy to follow, Owen needed a quick explanation about the “story within a story.”  In this version, Dorothy and Toto visit the Kansas State Fair, but Dorothy gets lost amidst the crowd. While her parents are being located, a few festival workers care for her and tell a fascinating story about a girl, a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion venturing together to see the wizard — the story of The Wizard of Oz.  Once Owen understood the roles of the narrators, he was able to follow along fine, and was thoroughly engaged in the singing, puppet dancing, and imaginatively presented cast of characters. After the show when I asked him if he liked it, I got a very enthusiastic, “Yes!” And when I asked what he like best, he told me, “When the lion jumped across the stage!”  Sounds like the lion stole the show once again.

“The Wizard of Oz” will be at The Puppet Co. through September 4, with showtimes on Thursdays and Fridays at 10am & 11:30am and Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30am & 1pm. It’s recommended for kids of Kindergarten age and up, and running time is 55 minutes.  Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

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