Many young children love to play pretend, and they love music. What better time than during this period of pure openness and intense curiosity, to introduce them to live theatrical productions?
Numerous studies show the benefits of exposure to arts education. The integration of music and the performing arts into daily life can help children with their academic, social, emotional and creative development.
April brings a range of stage performances created specifically for children, and for the whole family to experience together. Youngster can enjoy Judy Blume’s Superfudge, the classic Cinderella as well as Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Houston Grand Opera’s Opera To Go! presents The Clever Wife and the Houston Symphony wraps up its Family Concert Series with baseball favorites.
When: Saturdays through May 19; at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Story line: The musical is adapted from the book by Judy Blume. Superfudge is the story of the Hatcher household during a time of major transitions. Four-year-old Fudge and 11-year-old Peter are moving to a new neighborhood and a new school. And their mom is pregnant, so they’re expecting a new sibling.
The show captures the humor in the daily life of a family, between silly sibling antics and conversations with childhood friends.
“We continue to produce the Judy Blume-based plays because they are timeless classics,” says Vivienne St. John, Theater for Youth producing director. “Kids can always identify with the challenges of being in middle school and having a pesky kindergarten brother getting into their business. They also can relate to the anxiety of having to move away from close friends and starting all over in a new school and a new city.
"The books are fun and encourage the kids to read. Once they enjoy one they want to keep reading to learn more and more about the Hatchers. The book teaches kids that they are not alone. Lessons like moving, pesky younger siblings, problems with friends are universal and things will get better.”
Length: 80 minutes with intermission
Ticket price: $12 and $14
When: Now through May 25, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.
Story line: The story of Cinderella and her glass slipper is one of the most popular fairytales in the world. Kids love to hear about how the beautiful and kind Cinderella gets to the ball by outsmarting her evil stepmother and stepsisters, and with magical help from her fairy godmother and animal friends.
A.D. Players chose to stage this classic because it “embodies many classic theatrical elements, including unjust oppression and triumphant reward, magical intervention, meeting the prince, and proof of identity," says Kevin Dean, director of A.D. Players’ Children’s Theater. He chose to bring this story to life because he remembers being fascinated by it when he was a child.
“Another reason I gravitated to Cinderella is what the story teaches us. At the beginning we are offered two very important insights: Life is not always fair and difficult circumstances befall good people. The Cinderella story teaches us that we can make good choices when faced with tough circumstances."
Length: 60 minutes.
Ticket price: $10, $8 for groups of 10 or more
When: Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.
Where: Discovery Green, Anheuser-Busch Stage, 713-400-7336, discoverygreen.com
Story line: A family-friendly production of Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is presented by The University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance. “We hope this will make many young people's first encounter with a staged version of Shakespeare lead them to sit up taller when his works pop up in classrooms,” says Jack Young, head of the University of Houston’s Professional Actor Training Program.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare's most produced play because of its combination of love, comedy and magic. A quartet of teenagers work their way through the pangs of misplaced affections, just like in the hallways of every school across the land. The workmen of the town work out their own rendition of "Tragic Love" with hilarious results. And a group of magical forest dwellers turn and toss them about.”
Length: 80 minutes
Ticket price: Free
When: April 28; two shows 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Story line: The song list includes the American classics "The Star-Spangled Banner," "Deep In the Heart of Texas," "Casey at the Bat" and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," which will be a sing-along. Other musical pieces include: “Attack of the Clones” from Star Wars, “Orange Blossom Special” to salute Minute Maid Park, and “Pacific 231” in honor of Houston’s historic Union Station.
Houston Astros’ announcer and Hall of Famer Milo Hamilton narrates "Casey at the Bat." Hamilton has announced that he is retiring after this season. In addition to the concert, children can enjoy an instrument petting zoo and crafts stations.
“It’s a very casual way for children to experience the symphony for the first time,” says Roger Daily, director of the Houston Symphony’s Music Matters. “The idea is that the concert transcends generations. Four-year-olds come with their 7-year-old siblings, their parents, or their grandparents.
"Our conductor, Robert Franz, interacts with the audience to bridge the different age groups so everybody walks away feeling like this was great for them. We mix popular pieces with classical music.”
Length: 55 minutes
Ticket price: $14 for children; $22 for adults
When: April 30- May 4, 11 a.m.
Storyline: A woman — a young wife — is the heroine in this world premiere opera based on an ancient Chinese folk tale. The opera explores the difference between wisdom and knowledge as the young wife rescues her husband from a magistrate with her quick thinking.
“Opera to Go! is a perfect introduction to opera for audiences of all ages,” says Kade Smith, Houston Grand Opera director of Opera To Go!
Members of Opera To Go! are artists in residence at the Houston Community College Fine Arts Department.
Length: 45 minutes
Ticket price: Free
Bernadette Verzosa is founder of Parentspost.com, which covers new and exciting things for families to do in Houston.