The Puppet Co.’s latest production, Peter and the Wolf, is only running for two more weekends at the playhouse in Glen Echo, which means you better get your tickets soon. Because, in a nutshell, it’s one terrific show.
The one-man, multi-marionette show is not just an engaging and entertaining theatre experience, it’s also an impressive demonstration of the art of puppetry. We get to see the classic story played out on the stage, while watching puppet master Christopher Piper manipulate and voice every character and even parts of the set. And he does this all without missing a beat. I can barely keep voices straight while reading books to my kids, and he does it without a hitch through a 45-minute-long performance while executing the characters’ every movements.
And lest you think this would distract audience members from the show itself, I can assure it doesn’t. Rather, it’s quite interesting to watch, especially for adults. It seemed the children in the audience were so absorbed by the story, particularly the silly parts that elicited plenty of giggles, they didn’t even take their eyes off the puppet stage.
As for story, The Puppet Co. sticks very close to the original, except for a few changes that actually make it less scary for kids (spoiler alert: the duck doesn’t get eaten by the wolf). Piper also throws in some grown-up humor as he voices the duck’s conscience, then makes an aside to the audience about it. And he nailed the cat behavior, making him rub up against trees and wink in that funny way cats do.
These are just a few of many details that contribute to the show’s all-ages appeal that seems to be a signature of The Puppet Co.’s productions. Six-year-old Owen and I caught the performance with my friend and her two boys, ages 2 and 5, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. And judging by the laughter and applause of the audience, I think plenty of others did, too.
Peter and the Wolf is running at The Puppet Co. Playhouse through February 19. Performances take place on Fridays at 10am and 11:30am, and Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30am and 1pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to Peter and the Wolf from The Puppet Co. Playhouse, but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Crossing a high footbridge at Living Classrooms in Glen Echo Park
Who would ever guess that near-60-degree nice days in DC would be a regular occurrence in the middle of winter? This is exactly why this weekend round-up is steeped with recommendations that take place indoors, despite at least one of those glorious days on the way. If you want to get out and seize it — because who knows when Snowmageddon II could hit? — scroll right down to the end of the list for a link to a wealth of outdoor ideas. Otherwise, read on to explore all of your options for family fun, from the Auto Show and the Monster Jam, to Chinese Lunar New Year and birthday celebrations, to a puppet festival and puppet shows, and even more possibilities in between. Happy Weekend!
Auto Focus – The 2012 Washington Auto Show begins today and runs through next weekend. If there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. And I know from firsthand experience; our family went to the show last year and practically had to drag the kids out when it was finally time to go. It’s like a Truck Touch, but with autombiles — more than 700 of them! — on display for guests to check out. And especially for kids will be Playland, an area filled with games, toys, videos, and cuddly mascots, including some from the PBS show SuperWhy! This all takes place at the Washington Convention Center. Tickets are $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Hours are 12-10pm Friday, 10am-10pm Saturday, and 10am-7pm Sunday. See this post for even more details.
Year of the Dragon – Usher in the lunar year 4017 on Sunday at the Chinese New Year Parade. Festivities kick off at 6th & I Streets NW at 2pm and will wind through the streets of Chinatown celebrating Chinese culture in a brilliant procession that includes traditional dance, music, and, of course, the iconic dragons. The parade is expected to last about two and a half hours, and spectating is free. View the route here to stake out your curbside spot.
Build-a-Saurus at Lowe’s – It’s another Build and Learn Clinic at the home improvement store on Saturday. Lowe’s hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and during this session guests can build a wooden dino, then choose the stickers to make it a cartoon or a realistic dinosaur. The store will provide all the materials, along with goggles, an apron, and other goodies to take home. We haven’t yet been, but a friend went to the last one and gave it a great review. Go here to find your local Lowe’s and register for the workshop.
Monster Jam – If you hear a rumble echoing around the city this weekend, chances are it’s coming from the Verizon Center where 12-foot-tall, 10-thousand-pound monster trucks will be wowing crowds with big stunts, power races, and wheelie contests (can you imagine one of those things popping a wheelie?!). There are shows Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. Tickets are $60/VIP seats, $25/Gold Circle seats, and Mid-Level are $20/adults, $10/kids 2-12, kids under 2 are free. There is also a pit party on Saturday from 11am – 12:30pm, where guests can meet drivers, check out cars up close, and more. According to the website, pit passes are generally available for free at Advance Auto Parts retailers while supplies last. They are also available for purchase at the Verizon Center the day of the show when accompanied by the appropriate event ticket.
Show Time– Sit back, relax, and enjoy the shows at local theaters. The Snowy Day is at Adventure Theatre, Peter and the Wolf and Tiny Tots are at The Puppet Co., and Mouse on the Move is at Imagination Stage. You can find details on all of these productions in this post about winter entertainment.
Living Classrooms – Whether you’re at Glen Echo Park to catch a show or just looking for a little nature fun for the kids, Living Classrooms, located just off the path that leads from the park to the parking lot is worth checking out. We’ve passed by numerous times, but never actually visited until last weekend, after we found out the show we were supposed to see was canceled. What a neat discovery — the small building contained a giant ant hill that kids cold crawl through, a high foot bridge to cross and a tree to slide down, various critters and creatures observe, and more. One of the highlights was a an animal encounter with a rosy boa and a chance to pet the snake. There’s also an art room that’s open to the outdoors — a great place to draw inspiration from nature when weather permits. It’s all open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 3pm both days. Admission is $5/person, free for children under 2.
Happy Birthday, Renwick! – Celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Renwick Gallery. Enjoy live music, hands-on activities, a docent led touch table, craft activities, mini scavenger hunts through the galleries, and, of course, cake! This all takes place on Saturday from 11am – 2pm. Admission is free.
Happy 25th, IKEA Woodbridge – Everyone’s favorite DIY furniture and everything else store is celebrating 25 years at the Northern Virginia location with goodies for customers — four days of savings, giveaways, design workshops, and family fun! Be the first 100 in line on Saturday and Sunday and win an IKEA gift card worth anywhere from $5-$250. Also among the festivities: live entertainment, including a string quartet, pianist, and opera singer from the Opera Performance Group from the college of William and Mary; fun events for the kids, including face painting each day from 12-2pm; and on Sunday, Radio Disney will be there from 1-3pm with non-stop music, games and giveaways.
See Us Fly: The Wright Brothers – On Saturday at 11:30am and 1pm, the National Air & Space Museum presents a puppet performance about Orville and Wilbur Wright and their journey into the history books. This is the story of two very determined brothers who beat the odds to create the world’s first self-propelled flying machine. Rainbow Puppet Productions will perform two 40-minute performances. Recommended for ages 4-8. Admission is free.
The Artist in You – The National Children Museum’s Launch Zone welcomes kids to discover their inner-artists — the only supply needed is their creativity! They can learn about artists such as Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder and have the chance to create their own artistic masterpieces using marbles, construction paper, and more interesting textiles. Drop in on Saturday from 11am – 4pm. Admission is free.
Puppet Festival – The McClean Community Center’s Alden Theatre is hosting a day dedicated to puppetry on Saturday. Guests can enjoy two puppet shows starting at 1:30pm, then make their own puppets at puppet creation stations. Admission is $10, children 2 and under are free. Purchase tickets through theAlden Theatre website.
Stories in Art – Henri Matisse is the featured artist once again at the National Gallry of Art’s drop in program this Sunday. Kids ages 4-7 can learn about him through storytelling, discussion, and an art project. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and will continue until all spaces are filled. Admission is free. Read a KFDC review of the Stories in Art program here.
Outward Bound – Near sixty-degree days in the middle of winter seem to be the new normal in Washington. And you will not hear a single complaint about it from me. Get out and enjoy the unseasonably awesome weather while you can; Snowmageddon 2012 could be right around the corner. For ideas on where to seize the sunny days, see this post about the best places in the DC area to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors with the kids.
I have to start this weekend round-up with a special shout-out. It was six years ago yesterday that my favorite little man arrived, and life became a fantastic adventure I never could have imagined prior to becoming a parent. My tiny baby, who was less than six pounds upon his early arrival and fit snugly in the crook of my arm, now reads, writes, runs fast, jokes around, expresses his dreams. When I take a moment (when I have a moment) to digest it all, it’s pretty darn astounding. And I couldn’t be prouder of the boy he’s become. Happy Birthday, my sweet O.
And with my sentimental moment indulged, let’s talk about the weekend. Museums programs and special events, children’s theatre, a clothing swap, and hoops action are among my recommendations for family fun. And with dreary weather in the forecast, the indoor list makes the round-up, too. Happy Weekend!
Spy Fest 2012 – Is your child the next 007? Find out at the International Spy Museum on Sunday from 11am – 2:30pm. Recommended for ages 7 and up, the event will include mini missions, tradecraft demos, and a chance for guests to try their spy skills. Tickets are $10, and advance registration is required. Go here to sign up!
Celebrate Africa! – Kids of all ages are invited to the Textile Museum’s 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Festival celebrating the art and culture of Africa. On Saturday from 12-4pm guests can enjoy dress-up, storytelling, dancing, crafts, and more. Try on contemporary clothing and accessories inspired by cultures of Central Africa, then pose for a professional photographer and walk away with your picture. Hand-sew a Kuba-inspired textile. Enjoy snacks of cassava chips and South African red tea while master drummer Joseph Ngwa leads traditional drumming and dance, and master storyteller Baba-C entrances listeners with interactive storytelling. Visitors will also entered to win great prizes. Admission to the event is free.
Happy Lunar New Year! – Usher in the Lunar New Year a little early at Rockville Town Center with a day full of lively festivities, including a parade hosted by VisArts, street performers, live music, martial artists, lion dancers, an 18-person golden dragon, VisArts exhibitions, vendors, crafts, and more! It’s all free and happening on Saturday from 11am – 4pm.
Multi-Prints Family Day – Press, stamp, and rub to make an artistic impression during this printmaking family day at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. On Saturday from 11:30am – 3pm, artists from George Mason University will demonstrate a variety of printing techniques to kids of all ages, who can then visit our workshop tables to create a print of their own to take home! This free event will take place in the Kogod Courtyard of the museum located at 8th & F Streets, NW.
Farm to Table Family Day – The Kogod Courtyard is going to be a busy place this weekend. Head there on Sunday as the National Portrait Gallery celebrates the arrival of the recently commissioned portrait of chef, author, and restaurant owner Alice Waters by artist Dave Woody. Enjoy live music, learn about the “farm to table” movement, and participate in hands-on activities. The free event takes place from 11:30am – 3pm.
Swap ‘Til You Drop – Or for a few hours, anyway. Saturday is World Swap Day and peace. love. swap. – The Original Maternity, Baby Kid Clothing & Gear Swap is celebrating with a swap event on Saturday at Jonah’s Treehouse in Glover Park. Pass on your old clothes and gear and score some (sorta) new stuff! Item drop-off is from 5-6pm, and the swapping is from 6:30-7:30pm. Admission is $5 if you register in advance, $7 at the door. Go here for more information and to register online
Rubber Ducky, You’re the One – The National Children’s Museum is hosting a joint birthday party for Ernie and his best pal, Rubber Ducky, at the Launch Zone on Saturday. From 11am – 4pm, children can take part in “Percussion Playtime” to celebrate Ernie’s love of playing the drums and make bubble art to celebrate Ernie and Rubber Ducky’s favorite pastime. No R.S.V.P. is required for this party, just drop in for a splish-splashin’ good time!
Wizards vs. Celtics – How aboutsome hoops action on Sunday afternoon? Never mind that it’s not a winning season for the Wizards so far; the games are still exciting and a fun time for all ages. Our family caught the match-up against Toronto a couple of weeks ago – Sasha’s first basketball game, and the Wizard’s first W this season – and we all had a blast. Along with the on-court thrills, kids will love the games, entertainment, and giveaways during time-outs and halftime. Game time on Sunday is 1pm, and tickets start at $10.
Art History 101 – The drop-in program a the National Gallery begins its Artful Conversations series and continues Stories in Art this weekend. On Saturday, kids ages 8-11 and an accompanying adult, can attend the former to learn about a work of art and participate in a related poetry-writing activity. Sessions are at 10:30am, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 10:00 a.m., and will continue until all spaces are filled. On Sunday, kids ages 4-7 can again learn about Henri Matisse through storytelling, discussion, and an art project. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and will continue until all spaces are filled. Read a KFDC review of the program here.
Stage Time – There’s a variety of entertainment to be enjoyed in local theatres this weekend. The Snowy Day opens at Adventure Theatre, a rousing tale about the War of 1812 is the free show at Saturday Morning at the National, Peter and the Wolf and Tiny Tots are at The Puppet Co., and Mouse on the Move is at Imagination Stage. Find details on all of these productions in this post about winter entertainment.
The “In” Crowd – Looks like it’s going to be a good weekend to hang indoors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house. For sheltered adventures around town, check out this list.
Enjoying the outdoors from a warm, comfy place at Watkins Nature Center.
Our museums will be full of special events this weekend — good timing, as a blast of chilly weather is on its way (to be followed by a heat wave, I’m sure). For some off the Mall activities, there’s a health & fitness expo, several children’s theatre shows, a building workshop, free fun at CHAW, and plenty of mainstay pursuits all around the DC-metro. Happy Weekend!
Art Class at the National Gallery – One of my favorite museum programs for kids begins this weekend and will offer weekly classes throughout the winter. This Sunday, you can drop in for Stories in Art, a workshop designed for kids ages 4-7, to learn about Henri Matisse through storytelling, discussion, and an art project. The hour-long classes are free, and no registration is required, but there is a limit to the number of children in each class. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am on Sundays, and will continue until all spaces are filled in each of the four time slots at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. There is also a Family Workshop for kids ages 8-11 that is already full (but you can get on the waitlist here.) See this post for more information about both, as well as Artful Conversations, a class for older children that will take place starting next week.
Build & Grow at Lowe’s – Kids can be the kings (& queens) of their castles at the home improvement store this weekend. Lowe’s hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and the first of 2012 is this Saturday at 10am. During this session, the store will provide castle building kits and guidance on putting it together, along with other to take home. Go here to find your local Lowe’s and register for the workshop.
In Theatres Near You – Local stages will be full of kids’ entertainment this weekend. Catch Encore Stage & Studio’s Darius the Dragon & Rap-Punzel (read the KFDC review) before curtains close on Sunday. See a performance at Glen Echo — Peter & the Wolf is at The Puppet Co. and The Snowy Day at Adventure Theatre. Enjoy a Teddy Bear Concert at the Kennedy Center. Get more details about these shows and more in this post about winter entertainment.
Native Storytelling Festival – The weekend-long festival at the National Museum of the American Indian sounds like a special treat for Twihards, and a fun, fascinating activity for non-fans, too. Celebrating the exhibit Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves, Chris Morganroth, a Quileute elder, will tell traditional stories geared towards kids and families. He’ll also give an introduction to Quileute culture and discuss how the tribe is presented in the popular Twilight books and movies. Along with storytelling, there will be pow wow dances, drumming, and a totem pole unveiling. While you’re at the museum, be sure to check out imagiNATIONS, the family activity center full of interactive fun for kids.
To the Mountaintops – All weekend long, the National Museum of American History will honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with a stirring and inspirational tribute. Actor Xavier Carnegie presents selections from some of Dr. King’s most powerful and compelling speeches and sermons in a combination of live performance, historic photographs, and audio recordings. Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the multitude of others who struggled and sacrificed so that this nation might become a more perfect union. The free presentation will take place Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at 11am, 1pm, 2:30pm, and 4pm in the museum’s Flag Hall, 2nd floor.
NCM Honors MLK– In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the National Children’s Museum Launch Zone is hosting a program honoring his life and accomplishments. Make your own I Have A Dream…Catcher and participate in their “Valentines for Veterans” service project in recognition of Dr. King’s commitment to service. Drop in from 11am – 4pm for this free event.
Health & Fitness Expo – NBC’s annual exposition will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Washington Convention Center. There will be free health screenings, exercise and dance demos, opportunities to test out new sports, meet and greets with a couple of The Biggest Loser winners, giveaways, plus activities especially for kids. Young guests can be a meteorologist, test their skills at a Bike Safety Pavilion, score a goal at a soccer area, reach for the top of a climbing wall, show off some dance moves, learn some yoga, and more. Admission to the expo is free, and it’s open both Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 5pm. The Convention Center is located at 901 Mount Vernon Place, NW, and the expo takes place in halls B & C. Metered street parking and garages are nearby, and you can take the Metro’s yellow line to the Mount Vernon/th St-Convention Center station.
Stories and Art at the Portrait Gallery – On Saturday from 2-4pm, children ages 5 and up, with an accompanying adult, can explore portraiture in depth at the National Portrait Gallery. Participants will take a brief guided tour of the exhibition Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories, listen to a children’s story or short gallery talk, then create a piece of art using some of the same materials or concepts. The session is free, but registration is required. On Sunday, drop in for Portrait Story Days from 2-5pm for a story about Gertrude Stein and a related art project (no registration necessary).
CHAW Gratis – The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop is continuing it 40th anniversary celebration with freebies galore. In the family-friendly vein this weekend, there is a mural painting recommended for ages 5-12 from 10am-12pm on Saturday – sign up online. There are also two concerts the whole brood can enjoy, the All Points West Chamber Music Ensemble at 11am and Bokamoso Youth in Performance at 6pm. More details for all three activities are available on the CHAW website.
The Wright Stuff – It’s Super Science Saturday, the monthly program at the Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles. There will be demonstrations and hands-on activities that immerse children in science and technology topics related to aviation and space exploration. January’s theme is From the Wright Brothers to the Right Stuff.
Fee-Free at National Parks – In honor of MLK Day, all National Parks that usually charge entrance fees will waive admission from Saturday through Monday. It might be on the chilly side for a hike, but perhaps perfect for a scenic drive through Shenandoah or the George Washington National Forest.