One of the reasons I love our Family Fun Day series so much is it features local Cleveland attractions that would be otherwise unaffordable for families. There are so many wonders in and around Cleveland that everyone should experience at some point in their lives. One of those wonders is the magic of live theater.
In yesterday’s blog article, Why the Arts are Vitally Important, I discussed the importance of introducing your children to the arts and the benefits they will receive. (If you missed the article, you can read it here.) It does not matter what form of art they are interested in – visual arts, dance, music, or drama. If you are unsure where to look, a festival is just the place to start.
International Children’s Theater Festival
This year marks the 6th annual International Children’s Theater Festival. Playhouse Square in Downtown Cleveland has the largest performing arts district in the nation outside of NYC, so it makes sense that we should play host to this event.
The highlight of the theater festival is the variety of affordable, family friendly theatrical performances. Since this is an international festival, the shows are presented from all over the world. In addition to live storytelling, there will also be shows featuring puppets, dance, and even circus acts. (See “Tips” for show descriptions.) The price for each show is only $10-$15, which is a bargain for live professional theater. With prices like that, everyone can afford to go see a show!
But what really makes the festival special are all the additional offerings for the theater-goers. There will be a variety of workshops, which are included in the price of your show ticket. During the year, Playhouse Square offers children’s workshops in association with the shows in their Children’s Theater series. Actors from the show engage the children in interactive classes, encompassing everything from movement and dance to dramatic play and crafts. (The list of workshops for this year’s festival has not yet been announced, but will be posted on the festival’s website — http://childrensfestival.playhousesquare.org/activities.html.)
In addition to the workshops, there will be a variety of free crafts and entertainment in the U.S. Bank Plaza for the family. In addition to a free concert by a Grammy-award winning band, there will also be magicians, balloon artists, face painters, caricature artists, and more. There will be art galleries on exhibition at Cleveland State University, and the International Imagination Station.
- The festival will be presented on Saturday, May 9th and Sunday, May 10th. The first shows will be presented at 11:00 am and the last shows begin at 3:00 pm. The workshops and outdoor entertainment start at 11:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday and will run until 5:00 pm both days.
- Tickets for the shows run between $10-$15 per person. Children under two may lap sit, but everyone – regardless of age – must have a ticket. Your show ticket gives you FREE admission to all the workshops, outdoor entertainment, and crafts. Tickets may be purchased online here.
- Playhouse Square is located at 1501 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115. Outdoor entertainment offerings will take place on the U.S. Bank Plaza. Each show will take place at a different theater. (See “Tips”.)
- For any questions about the festival, you can call Moira Beale at 216-640-8608, or visit http://childrensfestival.playhousesquare.org/index.html.
- There are five theatrical shows that will be presented at the festival:
The Adventures of Robin Hood (Scotland) – A humorous retelling of the legends of Robin Hood and his merry men.
- Recommended for ages 8 and up.
- Presented at the Connor Palace Theatre.
Kaput (Australia) – Reminiscent of the silent movie era, Kaput is a slapstick comedy show about a clumsy repairman.
- Recommended for all ages.
- Presented at the Hanna Theatre.
- Check out tomorrow’s post for information about attending a discounted sensory-friendly performance of Kaput, designed for guests with sensory issues!
The Star Keeper (Canada) – A marionette-style puppet show of epic proportions, telling the story of returning a fallen star to the sky.
- Recommended for ages 5 and up.
- Presented at the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre’s Idea Center.
Timber! (Canada) – Experience the splendor and rich heritage of Canada through an acrobatics show reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil – which originated in Canada, too!
- Recommended for ages 8 and up.
- Presented at the State Theatre.
Maxnmouse (Netherlands) – Enjoy the story of a unique mouse – who embarks on an incredible journey to discover his destiny – told using different forms of puppetry.
- Recommended for ages 6 and up.
- Presented at the Ohio Theatre.
- You can view video previews of the shows on the festival’s website — http://childrensfestival.playhousesquare.org/. Consider doing this before purchasing your tickets so you can choose shows you know your children will enjoy.
- The Okee Dokee Brothers, a Grammy award-winning music duo, will presented free concerts at the U.S. Bank Plaza – Saturday at 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm; Sunday at 3:30 pm.
- If you are interested in parking in the Playhouse Square parking garage, purchase your parking pass online to save $3.
- Food will be available for purchase at the concession stands of the theaters, as well as at the restaurants in the district.
- Before going to the festival, discuss proper theater etiquette with your children. Compare going to a friend’s house to going to a library. “How do you act differently?” Compare and contract those environments to a theater.
- After your show is complete, discuss the show. What did they like about the show? What did they not like?
- If you are seeing a puppetry performance, talk about how the puppets bring the story and characters to life. Consider creating puppets at home and putting on a show.
- If you are seeing a show with physical comedy elements, discuss what made the show so funny. What special requirements do the actors need – strength, flexibility, timing, etc.?
- After attending a workshop, ask your child what skills they learned. Do some role reversal and have them teach you what they learned.
- When the festival is over, talk with your child about different types of arts – drama, music, dance, visual arts, puppetry, etc. “Which one do you like the best? Why?” If your child shows interest in learning any different kind of art, research online for classes. Art of any kind if a fantastic outlet for children in many ways!