The spring season for kid-oriented performances looks to be richer than the fall's. And the fall's wasn't too shabby. Expect an invasion of rabbits (Peter), bulls (Ferdinand) and pigs (three little ones), plus a very hungry caterpillar who'll be flying before long.
The following highlights are just the tip of the iceberg. Check out TheDailyPage.com/TheGuide for every kids' show worth knowing about over the next few months.
Kids in the Rotunda
Overture Center, Saturdays through April 30 at 9:30 am, 11 am & 1 pm
Overture's series offers free fun on Saturdays, with an eclectic lineup that includes witty yo-yo master Mark Hayward (Jan. 22), eccentric juggler Truly Remarkable Loon (Feb. 12), the spunky Trinity Academy of Irish Dance (March 12) and cowboy singers KG & the Ranger (April 30). What better place than a $200 million culture palace to see yo-yo tricks and yodeling?
MadFest Juggling Extravaganza
Jan. 15, Wisconsin Union Theater, 7 pm
The word "juggling" doesn't really do justice to this delightful annual event, which showcases all manner of object manipulation. The format is a vaudeville-style revue, and you never know what's coming next. For kids, the fun begins even before the show as they bat balloons around the Union Theater's seats.
Jan. 30, Monona Terrace, 11 am-5 pm
The annual children's talent showcase features art, theater, music and dance. Expect performances by the Young Shakespeare Players, Madison Unicyclists, Wild Rumpus Circus, Children's Theater of Madison, Yonim Israeli Folk Dance Troupe, and many others. So many, in fact, that there might be more kids on stage than in the audience.
Most Valuable Player
Feb. 19-27, Overture Center Playhouse
Children's Theater of Madison presents a play about Jackie Robinson, the American hero who broke major-league baseball's color barrier in 1947. If you don't come out feeling uplifted, someone's not doing his job.
Ferdinand the Bull
Feb. 20, Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 3 pm
Arizona's Childsplay performs a musical adaptation of the children's book about a bull who prefers smelling flowers to fighting in the ring. There's got to be a lesson there, right? The production blends Spanish and English.
Duck Soup Cinema
Feb. 26, Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 2 & 7 pm
Overture's Capitol Theater harks back to its glory days as a 1920s movie palace with a vaudeville-style revue and a silent film accompanied live on the vintage Grand Barton Organ. The film is Buster Keaton's The Three Ages, which jumps from prehistoric times to ancient Rome to the Roaring Twenties. If you think kids won't respond to a silent film classic, you've never been to Duck Soup Cinema.
March 5, Overture Center
Here's a chance to take your kids abroad without leaving town. The free event showcases international traditions with food, performances and a craft bazaar.
The Surprising Story of the Three Little Pigs
March 5-March 13, Overture Center Playhouse
Children's Theater of Madison applies a Fractured Fairy Tales approach to the Three Little Pigs, the Three Billy Goats Gruff and the Three Bears. The characters take matters into their own hands to change their classic stories, revising happily ever after.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
March 12, Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 11 am
Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia brings Eric Carle's lovely picture-book tales of caterpillars, chameleons and clouds to life using puppets and black lights. The show is all about transformations, which the young audience knows a little something about.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
March 19-20, Overture Center's Capitol Theater
Madison Ballet is pitching choreographer Peter Anastos' adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy as a family show. It's true there are a lot of fairies, and someone changes into an ass. Kids love it when someone changes into an ass.
The Little Prince
April 8-17, Overture Center Playhouse
Children's Theater of Madison presents an adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's whimsical tale of a boy who comes to Earth from a tiny asteroid and learns that "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." I predict that CTM's production will tame the entire audience.
Peter Rabbit's Ballet
April 8-10, Mitby Theater at MATC-Truax
Dance Wisconsin presents its charming ballet based on four Beatrix Potter stories. As you can imagine, it will take some daring leaps and pirouettes for Peter Rabbit to escape that mean old Mr. McGregor.
Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre
April 15, Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The South Dakota troupe performs "Cokata Upo! (Come to the Center)," which evokes Lakota culture with songs, traditional dances, video imagery and creation stories. It'll be an educational opportunity for the kids as well as a stirring night at the theater.
Pero, or the Mysteries of the Night
May 1, Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 3 pm
A baker romances a washerwoman in Speeltheater Holland's magical show for younger children, based on a commedia dell'arte story. It features puppets, human actors, lively music, witty effects and a touch of poetry.comments powered by Disqus
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.