Mama Madison: Date night at APT

Shakespeare, with and without kids

Nearly three years ago, my first Mama Madison post answered the question (for my family, at least) of whether or not you could take kids to see Shakespeare at American Players Theatre. My children, 13, 10 and eight at the time, were itching to see the original works that had inspired parodies on some of their favorite Simpsons episodes, and we decided to take the all-family plunge with an afternoon performance of As You Like It.

And they did, like it that is. So we ended up building on our Bard experience the next summer with viewings of both The Taming of the Shrew and The Tempest, followed by Twelfth Night last year. And after each performance the kids tried to get us to promise we'd bring them back again the next year.

But if there's one thing I've learned in parenting, it's never to make a promise.

And it's a good thing, too, because early this spring, way before I think I'd even gotten the APT schedule in the mail, a friend emailed to ask if I would like to join her and her spouse in Spring Green for an early season performance of Somerset Maugham's Too Many Husbands.

With just our husbands. No kids.

At first I couldn't imagine using our likely one and only (for time, energy and financial reasons)summer trek up the hill for a real live double date. APT, for us, had really become quite the family affair. But after about five minutes of consideration, I sent back an affirmative reply. With three kids in three different sets of activities, as well as other work, family and life obligations, my husband and I don't get the chance to go out alone as much as we'd like. This seemed like a ready-made opportunity for the grown up time we were both desperately craving.

I was, I'll admit, a little nervous as we headed out late that afternoon to meet our friends for the obligatory pre-performance picnic. My kids are old enough to stay alone without a baby sitter, but APT was kind of far away. And my experience has always been that cell phones don't seem to work in the outdoor amphitheater. But I played brave, pre-ordered their pizza, and made a very long list of every neighbor's phone number on the block to call in case of an emergency (real emergencies, I reminded my daughter -- the kind that involve broken limbs, fevers and blood. Not the kind that emerge when you and your brother can't agree on which episode of "Cake Boss" to watch).

Now, I really can't tell you whether or not I enjoyed the play -- we were rained (and thundered and lightninged) out after act one. But we had a fantastic time up until the deluge, enjoying wine, cheese and bread (mostly the wine) in the company of only adults. The four of us chatted and giggled in the way that can only happen when a fidgety offspring isn't asking how much longer until the play starts, complaining about mosquitoes or whining that her sibling spilled the only tangerine Izzy.

The very best part of the evening though may have been the 45-minute ride home with my husband -- me with mascara running down my face, my husband shirtless from getting completely soaked during our mad clamor down the hill. We listened to oldies and had the kind of inane but pleasurable discussions that we had far more regularly before we had kids. Things like, was the "Mony, Mony" we remembered from college the original or a remake? Or if anyone really knows what The Kingsmen are saying in "Louie, Louie"?

And when a medley of Styx songs came on the radio we realized that we had both slow danced many times to "Come Sail Away" during high school. But we'd never danced to it with each other.

No, we didn't pull over and dance in the rain on the side of the road. That kind of stuff only happens in movies and in the lyrics of the type of love songs that seem to populate oldies stations on Saturday nights. But we did hold hands and felt fortunate to be reminded of why we married each other in the first place.

And the best part of all, due to APT's rainout policy, we'll get the opportunity to head back up to Spring Green later this summer, hopefully in better weather this time, to finish up Too Many Husbands.

Which will give me another chance to be thankful for spending time with my just my one.

And don't worry about the kids. They got their summer Shakespeare in last weekend when we went to see Joss Whedon's film Much Ado About Nothing. They thought it was okay. But not nearly as good as The Avengers. And definitely not as good as seeing it live, under the stars, on the outdoor stage.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Talking about race with Families for Justice

Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?

Mama Madison: Checking it twice

If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.

Mama Madison: Managing holiday lists

I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.

Girls on the Run of Dane County marks a decade of changing young lives

On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.

Mama Madison: Mom dates are hard

You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.

Mama Madison: No judgments with No Excuse Mom

If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.

Mama Madison: Introducing kids to your CSA box

At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).

Mama Madison: Changing tables, changing times

My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.

From museum to school with MMoCA

"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.

Mama Madison: Coping with toddlers in a Wisconsin winter

I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.

Mama Madison: Melissa Wardy pushes positive messages

I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

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.

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.