A couple weekends back, as a group birthday present, my mom treated my sister, my niece, my daughter and I to tickets to a Saturday matinee performance of Flashdance: The Musical at the Overture Center. The two 11-year-old girls absolutely loved it. And to be honest, if you'd been in the balcony, you might have caught their 40-something moms performing a relatively tame lip sync to "Maniac" and "Manhunt," as well. When it comes right down to it, what's not to like about a stage show that features yards and yards of Lycra, ripped sweatshirts and a sexy steel worker?
Oh yeah, I can definitely think of one thing not to like (beyond the somewhat forgettable new music). The price. At nearly $50 dollars a ticket, it was an extremely expensive afternoon. And that's without buying (much to my daughter's chagrin) a pair of the fluorescent pink legwarmers they were selling in concessions.
So what's a parent who is not the financial equivalent of Annie's Daddy Warbucks to do if she wants to expose her kids to musical theater more regularly?
The answer came just this past Saturday night when my same performance-going posse (plus my five-year-old nephew) went to the closing night performance of West High's spring musical Beauty and the Beast, a stage adaptation of the 1991 Disney animated feature. To say it was absolutely fantastic would be the ultimate in understatement.
Junior Grace Ferencek who played Belle has a gorgeous singing voice and was a complete delight to watch on stage. She was so fabulous that I was somewhat tempted to make my way backstage after the performance to get her autograph before she someday wins a Tony or an Oscar. Trust me, she's that good.
And the fact that Reid Annin, also a junior, had the acting chops to communicate the pathos of the beast under heavy make up and faux fur was remarkable, as well. Truth be told, every member of the ensemble was well cast and memorable. I wish I could name them all, but there must have been at least fifty kids in the production, if not more. And whether portraying French countryside villagers or anthropomorphic kitchen utensils, their excitement with being on stage was palpable.
Mix this in with lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
So I'm genuinely sorry for you theater fans who missed out on West's show. But there's no need to fret. There's another chance to check out a Madison high school musical this weekend at La Follette. The Lancer Cast & Company will be presenting the final performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! over March 13-15 at 7:30 p.m. (Call La Follette at 608-204-3600 for reservations, because the online ticketing function is down right now, or buy tickets at the door.)
Yes, I guess you can say, to borrow from Ado Annie, that I'm becoming a "Girl who Cain't Say No" to a terrific student musical experience. And tickets for this one are an outrageously affordable $7 for adults and $5 for students.
I've often heard you get what you pay for. But "What a Feeling" it is when you get -- as is the case with high school theater -- so, so much more.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.