Tag Archives: Theatre for kids in DC

Review: Peter and the Wolf at The Puppet Co.

Peter finally ensnares the wolf

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.


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Filed under Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Preschoolers, Theatre, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Review: Darius the Dragon & Rap-Punzel by Encore Stage & Studio

Something about seeing kids perform on stage really seems to resonate with kids watching them. At least this was the case with Owen at Encore Stage & Studio’s latest production, Darius the Dragon & Rap-Punzel, running at Artisphere’s Spectrum Theatre through January 15.  The two-play production is performed entirely by youth actors — quite impressively, at that — just as Encore’s “Theatre by Kids, For Kids” slogan promises.

Owen and I had a chance to see the performances this past weekend, and he was not only thoroughly engrossed in the shows, but also quite interested to know more about the actors themselves, like who played which characters and how old they were, something he’s never asked to do for adult-acted shows. It was clear this youth theatre experience was special for him.  Compared to the older actors he’s used to seeing, these were his peers, people he could somewhat relate to.

But it wasn’t just the kids in the audience who were entertained  by the shows; it was obvious the adults enjoyed them, too. Along with appreciating the talent of such a young cast, there are underlying messages about environmental issues and a fun, hip twist on a classic fairytale, elements that appeal to adult sensibilities.

Dragon meets 21st-century world

As for the production, it begins with Darius the Dragon, a one-hour play about time-warped medieval dragon whose cave in a 21st-century city park is about to be bulldozed. He befriends Jenny, who introduces him to her friends, and with their help, he crusades to stop the construction and save their park/his home. Darius and Jenny have a great rapport, and the police chief and mayor (Darius’ adversaries-turned-supporters) are quite an amusing duo. The rest of the cast does an excellent job of creating the city setting by wearing cars to create traffic and playing a choreographed basketball game.

Rapping vegetables in Rap-punzel

Rap-punzel begins after a 15-minute intermission, and it takes no time at all to get into the groove of the show, and I mean that literally.  As the cast presents the classic story of the girl with the long hair raised by a witch in a high tower as her parents’ remittance for stealing from her garden, all of the dialogue is rapped.  And it’s executed with such perfect rhythm and rhyme, I found myself bobbing my head along to it and saw Owen doing some small hip hop moves in his seat. This 30-minute rendition on a tale we all know well was, perhaps, the most creative I’ve ever seen — and heard.

The cast of kids took their bows to very enthusiastic applause. And they made their way from the stage to the lobby, where kids who saw the show lined up to get their autographs — no doubt, a thrill for both audience and actors.

Darius the Dragon & Rap-Punzel is on stage at Artisphere’s Spectrum Theatre, located at 1611 N. Kent Street in Arlington, for one more weekend.  There are performances on Friday (1/13) at 7:30pm, Saturday (1/14) at 11am and 3pm, and Sunday (1/15) at 3pm. Tickets are $12/adults, $10/kids and can be purchased online. The production is recommended for ages 4 and older.  Six-year-old Owen gave it two thumbs up!


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Filed under DC, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Preschoolers, Preteens, Teens, Theatre, Tweens, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

A Fall Full of Family Entertainment

A new season doesn’t just mean a change in weather; it also brings a whole new line-up of family entertainment. And this fall is no exception. From puppet shows and plays to opera at Nationals Park to kids rock concerts to shows about science, there is something to indulge all ages and interests. Here’s the scoop on performances coming to our local stages and, in at least one case, the ball park.

Tales of Beatrix Potter
Where: The Puppet Co. Playhouse
When: September 16 – October 9
Tickets: $10 (Get a $5 discount on tickets to shows on 9/16-18 by using the code BK2S online)
Applause Unlimited’s puppeteer/storyteller Christopher Hudert explores the fantasy world of one of Victorian England’s best-known authors and illustrators. Set in an old-fashioned nursery, this performance includes three favorite Beatrix Potter stories as seen through the eyes of a young English girl growing up at the beginning of the twentieth century. As she pursues the everyday activities of playing and learning, the tales of “Two Bad Mice”, “Jeremy Fisher”, and “Jemima Puddleduck” seem to grow from her imagination. This 45-minute show incorporates hand, rod, and shadow puppets in a style that is sure to please young and old alike.

Opera in the Outfield
Where: Nationals Park
When: September 22, 7:30pm
Tickets: FREE! Reservations are encouraged, but not required.
Join Washington National Opera for the 4th annual Opera in the Outfield, a free, live opera broadcast of Puccini’s Tosca at Nationals Park. Arrive early to the ballpark — gates open at 5:30pm — to enjoy entertainment and activities including: Performances by community youth groups including the Greenbelt S.I.T.Y. Stars double-dutch team of Greenbelt, MD, the award-winning Yorktown High School Marching Band from Arlington, VA, and the DC-based Taratibu Pan-African Step Team; a screening of the Warner Bros.cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?,” starring Bugs Bunny and his nemesis Elmer Fudd; chances to win prizes, including a VIP suite for a Nationals Game and tickets to Kennedy Center performances.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Ongoing – 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.

Boogie Babes
Where: North Hall of Eastern Market & The Atlas
When: Thursdays & Fridays at 10:30am
Tickets: $5/child, free for siblings 6 months and under
The Boogie Babes have doubled the fun! Little ones can now boogie along with their favorite local musicians in Eastern Market’s North Hall every Thursday morning AND at The Atlas Performing Arts Center on Fridays. Go for the show, then grab lunch in the Market and stay to play, or hit one of the many eateries on the H Street Corridor. Check out the schedule to find out who’s playing when.

Tot Rock
Where: Jammin’ Java
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $5/weekdays, $10/weekends
Tot Rock is Jammin’ Java’s super-popular kids music concert series, providing wholesome family entertainment at one of the DC Metro area’s finest music clubs. Local groups perform every Monday through Friday and touring performers drop by on many weekends. Check the calendar often to see when your favorite act is performing, and for other calendar updates.

Various Performances for Children
Where: Discovery Theater
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $3 – $6
Songs and stories in English and Spanish, a puppet show about Amelia Earhart, talking drums, and kitchen science are all on the entertainment line-up at Discovery Theatre this fall. Most performances take place at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center. See the complete schedule of shows on the theater’s website for more info and to purchase tickets online.

Big Apple Circus
Where: Dulles Town Center
When: September 22 – October 10
Tickets: $15-49
See the world’s greatest circus artists presented under an intimate big top, where no seat is more than 50 feet from the ring. Let your imagination soar and summon the most amazing acts – a juggler with a suit to fit his sweet feats of fancy handiwork; a mechanical doll who comes alive in a sinuous balancing act; spirited horses, frolicsome dogs, and a capybara and porcupine to perk up the sawdust party; audacious acrobats who astound with athletic grace; comical conjurors with magical moments of grand illusion; the aerial daring of the trapeze flyers; a singing ringmistress and the Big Apple Circus Band, creating the ringing melodies of memories to last. And Grandma, apogee of comical aspiration and mirthful joy! Your dreams will inspire a Big Apple Circus of living thrills and marvelous delight — a celebration of the imagination — an astonishing circus world of wonder.

Lilly’s Plastic Purse
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: September 23 – October 31
Tickets: $17
Lilly loves all sorts of things. She loves school, she loves dressing up, and she even grows to love her “stinky baby brother,” Julius. In fact, Lilly loves everything! At least, she loves everything most of the time. Even Lilly has some bad days, but when you have movie star sunglasses and a purple plastic purse, how bad can it be? Recommended for all ages.

Alladin’s Luck
Where: Imagination Stage
When: September 23 – October 30
Tickets: $10-22
A clever street urchin called Aladdin falls madly for the Princess Leilah when they meet by chance at the bazaar. Determined to impress the Princess, he embarks on a search for fortune and instead finds a dingy oil lamp. But this is no ordinary lamp; it houses a magical genie who helps Aladdin masquerade as a grand emir to win Leilah’s hand. Leilah, however, fell for the street urchin, not the grand emir. Frustrated that Aladdin won’t admit who he really is, Leilah gives the lamp to an unscrupulous magician and ends up his prisoner. Now Aladdin must travel across the desert to rescue Leilah by doing the thing that scares him the most…being himself. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Yo Gabba Gabba Live!
Where: Patriot Center
When: September 30
Tickets: $25-52
Yo Gabba Gabba Live! is going on the road again! The “It’s Time To Dance!” Tour is traveling to more than 50 cities with an all-new show. See all your favorites, like DJ Lance Rock, Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Plex, and Toodee, with special guests Hip Hop Legend Biz Markie and Razzle Dazzle Superstar Leslie Hall. You won’t want to miss it!

Snow White
Where: Alden Theatre
When: October 1
Tickets: $10/McLean residents, $15/non-residents
This musical adaptation of the classic fairy tale features both live actors and wonderful puppets. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Taste of DC Family Stage
Where: Pennsylvania Avenue NW
When: October 8-9
Tickets: FREE!
Rocknoceros, The Great Zucchini, and Hope Harris and the Cousins Jamboree will be part of the entertainment at this year’s Taste of DC, the annual festival celebrating food, wine, and culture in the city. See the schedule to find out when your favorite acts are playing during the multi-day event.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Where: The Puppet Co. Playhouse
When: October 13 – November 18
Tickets: $10
“The 3 Billy Goats Gruff” is a marionette romp in which three brothers get the goat af a hen-pecked troll, in their attempts to trip-trop-tromp to where the grass is greener. Performed on a unique round stage, the goats literally travel in three-dimensional space in a way that is unprecedented on the Playhouse or any other stage. Three variety numbers precede the performance, demonstrating the making of a simple hand puppet, and manipulation of rod puppets and marionettes, as an introduction to the Art of Puppetry.

The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 15-29
Tickets: $18
There are no puzzles in space, right? Wrong! Space is one giant puzzle waiting to be put together by physicists, astronomers, and a brainy girl who goes by the name Dr. Wonderful. Fly through the solar system with Dr. Wonderful and her amazing adventure team of Newton (the dog) and Ben (the human) in this all-new musical! Saving a super star from disappearing is no small task, especially when the star is 1.3 million times the size of Earth and 93 million miles away. But when Dr. Wonderful receives the call, her team leaps into action from their laboratory/bedroom into outer space. With a couple of butterscotch candies and a rock song from Mom in the mix, the mystery solvers are amazed by their final discovery. Girl-detective-noir meets science-geek-chic in this super cool astronomical event! Recommended for ages 6 and up.

NSO Family Concert: Peter and the Wolf Live
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 16
Tickets: $15-18
Here’s a puzzle: which instrument sounds most like a wolf and which can play the part of a little boy? Find out when the NSO fuses a fantastic film with magical music in the fun multimedia event Peter and the Wolf Live! Audiences will be introduced to the story’s characters and the instruments that play them in Prokofiev’s beloved score. Then they will delight in hearing the work performed live while watching the action play out on the big screen in Suzie Templeton’s Oscar(r)-winning stop-motion animated film that The Times of London praises for being “beautifully made and very funny.” Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Robin Hood
Where: Artisphere’s Spectrum Theatre
When: November 4-13
Tickets: $12/adults, $10/children
Encore Stage & Studio’s fall production presents the dashing outlaw Robin Hood and his Merry Men dwelling happily in Sherwood Forest, defending the people of England from the wicked Prince John. Until one day, when Robin uncovers an evil plot — it’s up to him to save the kingdom from the devious Lady Merle and rescue the fair Maid Marian! Don’t miss this rousing tale! Recommended for ages 4 and up.

NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Tunes ‘n’ (Pig) Tales
Where: Kennedy Center
When: November 5
Tickets: $18
Music and stories go together like pieces of a puzzle – together they help create a better picture. Enjoy 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.

The Rough-Faced Girl
Where: Synetic Family Theatre
When: November 11 – December 28
Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door
This tale, well known among the multicultural versions of the Cinderella story, skillfully invites the audience to look past the surface and into the soul. Cast aside by her family and tribe, the Rough Face Girl survives scorns and scars to follow her heart past vision and belief. Through a blend of music, dance, acrobatics, and Native American storytelling traditions, Synetic Family Theater actors help young theater goers celebrate Native American History Month and understand that beauty lies within.

Dangerous Encounters
Where: National Geographic Live
When: November 12
Tickets: $16/adults, $12/children 12 and under, $40/family 4-pack
Take a thrilling ride through the world of wildlife with Brady Barr, reptile expert and host of the National Geographic Channel series “Dangerous Encounters”. The first person to capture all 23 species of wild crocodiles, Brady has risked his life to preserve some of the world’s most amazing animals. Go behind the scenes with Brady, meet some live animals, and hear about his most exciting adventures.


Filed under All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Theatre