Tag Archives: Family Theatre

Dear Evan Hansen at Arena Stage is Musical Theatre Perfection


It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know the specifics of Dear Evan Hansen before I took Owen to the see it with me last week. The world premiere musical playing at Arena Stage covers some pretty heavy subject matter that, had I just read or heard about beforehand, likely would have made me decide it was too mature for my 9.5-year-old.

The press materials I’d received ahead of the performance only gave a vague description of the show, though they did say it would appeal to middle schoolers and up. But since Owen isn’t too far off from that age, has a real interest in theatre as both a budding actor and viewer, and is a huge fan of the Pitch Perfect movies in which Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt is a major character, I thought it would be, well, perfect to bring him to the official opening performance with me.

I’m glad I didn’t know the specifics, because it turned out my instincts were right. I couldn’t have asked for a better theatre companion for the show that is both heartening and poignant as it explores aspects of adolescence, family, parenting, and human connection.


Evan Hansen is a teenager longing to fit in and be seen when tragedy coupled with a misunderstanding give him the opportunity to have that and much more — but at the expense of the truth. And while his lie starts with good intentions, it snowballs and forces him to question whether what has been gained is worth what has been compromised.

The story itself is thought-provoking and emotional (I don’t want to spoil it, but you can find plot details here), but it’s the on-stage execution that makes it especially powerful. The performances are brilliant, and every actor makes their characters feel so relatable. Watching Evan Hansen and his peers, I recalled the angst and awkwardness of my own teen years and contemplated what my kids could possibly face in the future (which, accompanied by the stirring music, had me sobbing by the second scene).

Even more, I empathized with all of the parents and the desperation for their children’s happiness, so deep in one case they cling to an incredibly tenuous story. Because as a parent, isn’t that what is paramount in life — our children’s happiness?


Much of this is conveyed through musical numbers that are exceptionally moving and evocative. Tony Award nominees Benj Pasek and Justin Paul did a phenomenal job composing the score, and the talented musicians and cast really did it justice. (Scroll down for a teaser…Owen and I can’t get the song out of our heads.)

Do you ever go to a show — a musical, play, concert, or any kind of live performance — and feel like you’ve just witnessed something really special? That you were part of an experience bonding you with everyone there, even a roomful of hundreds of strangers? That’s Dear Evan Hansen. And at a play about the need for human connection, it’s so apropos.

The person I connected with most, though, was my sweet boy, who left the theatre after the standing ovation exclaiming, “That was so touching! There were so many lessons…” When I asked what specifically he said, “That you should always be yourself. Because if you think you are happy when you’re not being yourself, then are you really happy?”

Yep, I’m definitely glad I chose Owen as my date.

Dear Evan Hansen is playing at Arena Stage through August 23. Running time is about 2.5 hours, including a 15-minute intermission. Tickets are $55-70, and for families with kids/teens interested in a theatre outing, Arena offers pay-your-age tickets (for patrons 30 and under) and the Family Fun Pack (four seats for $125). More details about both programs are available here.

A few warnings before you go:
1) As mentioned, the subject matter is heavy (this New York Times review has plot details.) It’s probably best for middle school-aged kids and older, but as noted, Owen (9.5) did okay with it, though there is adult language and adult references that garnered several amused, wide-eyed looks from him. There were a few other kids at our performance, including one who was definitely younger (and who came up to Owen in the lobby and told him how nice it was to see another kid at the theatre — so cute). Parents are the best judges of what’s appropriate for their children.
2) There is a good chance you will cry. Bring tissues.
3) Be prepared for the lyrics, “Tap tap tapping on the glass…” to play on repeat in your head.


Filed under Date Night, DC, Live Entertainment, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Enter to Win Tickets to Beauty and the Beast, Coming to DC this Winter

It always seems like we coast right into winter after Halloween, so why not start planning for some cold season indoor entertainment now? Plus, I’ve got tickets to give away to a smash hit show coming to DC in January.

The romantic Broadway musical for all generations, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, is returning to DC at the Warner Theatre January 6-11! Tickets are already on sale for all shows, both evening and matinee performances, and prices range from $47 to $143.

It’s the classic fairytale performed on stage, featuring an award-winning score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, with additional songs with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice. Here’s the official description from the website:

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family Four-Pack of tickets to see the opening night performance of Beauty and the Beast on January 6, 2015, simply leave a comment below telling me what your children are dressing up as for Halloween. To be eligible, you must also like KidFriendy DC on Facebook. The giveaway will run through next Friday, November 7, then a winner will be picked from a random drawing and notified shortly thereafter. Good Luck!


Filed under All ages, DC, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Music, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Performing and Visual Arts “Just for Families” at Arts on the Green


Arts on the Green, Gaithersburg’s premier center for the performing and visual arts, recently launched a new initiative that encourages children and families to explore the world around them through programs in music, theater, movement and the visual arts.

Just for Families provides performing and visual arts programs for families with young kids. From painting workshops to theater productions and concerts, Arts on the Green offers experiences for parents and children to enjoy the arts together at their two facilities, Arts Barn and Kentlands Mansion.

Bop Goes the Weasel performs October 4

Bop Goes the Weasel performs October 4

Next in the line-up is Bop Goes the Weasel this Saturday, October 4, 11am – 12pm. The jazz-for-kids performance is high-energy, interactive, and encourages young listeners to clap, snap, and have fun as Christiana Drapkin and her quartet introduce children to jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Parker. It’s recommended for children in pre-K to grade 5, and tickets are $12/adult, $8/child. Call 301-258-6394 to reserve yours.

"Not My Monkey" brings family theater October 11-26

“Not My Monkey” brings family theater October 11-26

The family programing also includes ongoing series like Songs & Stories, a preschool program held the first and third Thursday of each month. Workshops, concerts, magic shows, and theater are also featured in the Just for Families series. You can view the complete schedule for dates and details.

Arts on the Green venues, Arts Barn and Kentlands Mansion, are located in the heart of the Kentlands at 311 and 320 Kent Square Road in Gaitherburg, MD. Follow them on Facebook to stay updated on events and programs.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Arts on the Green, however, I only promote events, services, and activities that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, Art, Class, Educational, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Sponsored Post, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Enter to Win Tickets to The Washington Ballet’s “Alice (in wonderland)”

The Washington Ballet’s spring programming begins in just a few weeks with Artistic Director Septime Webre’s world premiere of ALICE (in wonderland) at the The Kennedy Center April 11- 15.

The re-imagined take on Lewis Carroll’s classic promises to take audiences on a magical journey as they follow Alice’s misadventures — splendidly costumed and gloriously danced — down the rabbit hole. Combining Weber’s revolutionary vision with the talents of designer Liz Vandal (Cirque du Soleil’s OVO) and composer Matthew Pierce, it’s poised to be the Washington Ballet’s grandest production of the season.

There are 7:30pm performances every evening, plus two afternoon weekend shows during its run.  Tickets are $50-155 and can be purchased through the Kennedy Center website. Or, you can try to win them in the KFDC giveaway.

GIVEAWAY:  Want a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Opening Night performance of Alice (in wonderland) on April 12? Simply leave a comment on this post. To be eligible, you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook. Get an extra entry for following on Twitter. A winner will be drawn at random at the end of the week and announced shortly thereafter. Good luck!

The entry period for this giveaway has ended!


Filed under DC, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Spring, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Review: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas at Adventure Theatre

Adventure ensues in Santa's Workshop


Our family experienced a milestone when we went to see Twas the Night Before Christmas, the holiday production currently running at Glen Echo Park’s Adventure Theatre:  It was the first time ever that not-quite-three-year-old Sasha watched a play in its entirety without getting antsy and asking to leave. Instead, she sat through the hour-long performance utterly captivated by it all — the adventurous tale, the enchanting set, the playful musical numbers.  All of it spliced together perfectly to produce a show that’s wonderfully entertaining for all ages.

The play is based very loosely on the famous Clement Clarke Moore poem, so loosely that other than its recitation in the opening scene and a stirring mouse (who is literally stirring cookie batter when he’s introduced), the title is as far as the association goes. But the story does, indeed, take place the night before Christmas, which sets the scene for one wild and whimsical holiday adventure.

It begins as we meet Uncle Brierly in the cozy living room, complete with twinkling Christmas tree and festively decorated bookcase-lined walls, as he gets ready to read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” He barely gets through the first verse when Amos the stirring mouse, then his best friend Emily, burst in to reveal their own version of Christmas events the previous year when Santa skipped their house.

A wild airplane ride to the Norh Pole

When Uncle Brierly shuns their story and exits the room, Calliope, the Jewish elf from the North Pole, arrives to confirm that the two are telling the truth — Santa did skip their house last year — and seeks their help to prevent it from happening to even more houses this year, an entreaty relayed through a fun, chuckle-inducing “Santa Ain’t Coming to Town” rap.

And this is when the adventure begins, transporting the characters and the audience from Uncle Brierly’s living room to Santa’s charming little workshop. Shelves stocked with a colorful array of beautiful toys and presents line the whitewashed walls (you could practically see sparks being emitted from the audience as kids’ eyes lit up at the sight of it).

Calliope, Emily, & Santa plot to save Christmas

But the trio are here on a mission to save Christmas from Sir Guy, the rogue elf who stole and sold Santa’s sleigh to Wal-Mart and just pilfered the Naughty & Nice list with intentions to hawk it to Bloomies.

The chase scene and sword fight that follow an exciting hoot. We’re treated to some Three’s Company-esque dramatic irony as Amos’ twin brother shows up and unknowingly helps the operation. And when the heist is thwarted and Christmas is saved, there’s more rapping, and this time a jubilant Santa joins the crew.

All in all, it’s an immensely enjoyable show, from the imaginative story and endearing characters to the inspired costumes and brilliant set. That’s not only substantiated by the raves I just bestowed, but also by my daughter’s watershed theatre moment.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is playing at Adventure Theatre through January 2. Tickets are $18 and available for purchase online and at the Box Office. (Note: tickets sell out quickly and may not be available at the theatre day-of).

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to the show from Adventure Theatre, but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


Filed under Christmas, Gradeschoolers, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Play, Preschoolers, Preteens, Seasonal, Theatre, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend