Kiddie catharsis: Fall 2011 shows promise a sense of wonder

Your kids may resist leaving behind their TV shows and computers for a live performance. But if you force them to go, they will laugh, cry and experience the pee-wee version of catharis.

Okay, not every time. But it does happen. I speak from experience.

Here are some kid-oriented highlights for the fall season. Short of catharsis, they should at least be a lot of fun.

Kids in the Rotunda
Saturdays, Oct. 1-Dec. 17, Overture Center Rotunda, 9:30 & 11 am, 1 pm

Who says the Overture Center is just for elite audiences? Kids in the Rotunda offers a wide range of arts events for kids, free of charge, in an elegant setting that still leaves plenty of room for fidgeting.

The fall season includes hip-hop by the Figureheads (Oct. 1), a cappella singing by Tangled Up In Blue (Oct. 8), folk music by Laura Doherty (Oct. 15) and Fox & Branch (Oct. 22), interactive percussion by Dancing Drum (Oct. 29), Ken Lonnquist's version of Snow White (Nov. 5), a look at "a day in the life of a ballerina" by Madison Ballet (Nov. 12), the Gomers' karaoke for kids (Nov. 26), classical Indian dance by Kalaanjali School of Dance (Dec. 3), holiday rock 'n' roll by the Madgadders (Dec. 10) and Hanukkah tunes by Yid Vicious (Dec. 17).

If your kids go to every one of these Saturday shows, they may well end the year more cultured than you are.

The American Girls Revue
Oct. 8-23, Overture Center's Playhouse

Children's Theatre of Madison presents a musical revue based on historical fiction from the American Girl Collection. That's right - it's a theatrical production based on books that are based on dolls.

That might not sound promising, but consider these facts: The books are good examples of their kind; the dolls are beloved; the American Girl company is based in Middleton, lending the show hometown appeal; and this local production is the first one outside of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Plus, there's the fact that CTM has fabulous taste and high standards. Just be sure to set aside extra funds for doll purchases, because something tells me your little theatergoer might have a request or two after the show.

John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean
Oct. 16, Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 3 pm

John Tartaglia was nominated for a Tony for his performance in Avenue Q, and he also worked on Sesame Street. In other words, the guy knows his puppets. He brings his experience to bear on ImaginOcean, now on tour after an off-Broadway run. It's a black-light puppet show geared toward kids 4-7, full of music and corny jokes. Three fish set off on a treasure hunt, taking time out to parody Beyonce's "Single Ladies."

Middleton Holiday Pops
Nov. 26-27, Madison Marriott West

In these concerts, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra focuses on accessible holiday music, including choral works by John Rutter, traditional carol arrangements and film scores. Kids get into the act via the Middleton High School Concert Choir, and American Idol finalist A.J. Gil will make the angels weep with his sweet tenor.

John DeMain's Christmas Spectacular
Dec. 2-4, Overture Center's Overture Hall

The Madison Symphony Orchestra reaches out to families with its annual Christmas show. Expect carols and other holiday favorites, but also topnotch musicianship from conductor John DeMain, guest vocalists Kyle Ketelsen and Jamie-Rose Guarrine, the Madison Symphony Chorus, the Madison Youth Choirs, and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir.

These performers will teach the kids a lesson in sublimity they'd never get from watching Katy Perry videos on YouTube.

Nutcracker Fantasy
Dec. 3-4, Wisconsin Union Theater

For a town our size, it's amazing that Madison has two major museums, two major orchestras and two major performing arts centers. So why not two versions of The Nutcracker? Dance Wisconsin's JoJean Retrum adapts the ballet and the music, offering a counterpoint to the more standard production by Madison Ballet. Expect excellent dancing, plus plenty of sugarplum sweetness.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Dec. 6-11, Overture Center's Overture Hall

Yes, you could rent Disney's 1991 animated movie version of Beauty and the Beast (again). But why not spring to see the traveling Broadway musical? The production gives the songs the extravagant treatment they deserve, and the live actors might just make an emotional connection with the kids.

A Christmas Carol
Dec. 9-23, Overture Center's Capitol Theater

Children's Theatre of Madison has made a specialty of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens' tale of a miser's redemption. Last year, however, the troupe substituted a musical version of It's a Wonderful Life in the holiday slot. It was a clever ploy, because now we're all dying to see A Christmas Carol again.

James Ridge of American Players Theatre stars as Scrooge, and anyone who just saw Ridge as Petruchio in APT's The Taming of the Shrew knows he can play hardhearted with the best of them.

The Nutcracker
Dec. 17-26, Overture Center's Overture Hall

Madison Ballet's production offers its annual dose of cuteness and majesty - an irresistible combination. The mysterious Drosselmeyer presents young Clara with a nutcracker, sparking all manner of magical spectacles. Menacing rodents, an enchanted garden, waltzing flowers, Tchaikovsky's crystalline music, unearthly gracefulness - hey, whatever tickets cost, it's worth it. You can't put a price on a sense of wonder.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

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.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

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?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

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.

Mama Madison: Back-to-school confidences

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.

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

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?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

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.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

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.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"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.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"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."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"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."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

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."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

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.

Mama Madison: Young love

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.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

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.

Operation Fresh Start's Youth Conservation Corps helps kids, and kids help parks

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.

Mama Madison: Summer stress solved by yoga

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.

Mama Madison: The greatest fans of road repair

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.

Mama Madison: The alarm sounds

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.

Mama Madison: My summer book list

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.

Make Music Madison gives young artists a chance to perform

The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.