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Your Fall Arts To-Do List: 20-plus Show Picks for Puget Sound Families

Published on: August 26, 2014

Mary Poppins at the Village Theatre. Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

Confession: As Out + About editor of ParentMap, I get a bit overwhelmed when working on our fall arts preview. (Thought bubble: I must stop everything to book tickets to all these shows!) This fall, for example, there’s Mary Poppins, The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi, a John Williams pops concert, A Chorus Line, Don Giovanni . . . it’s enough to make a family consider homeschooling just to fit more arts in.

To help you prioritize fall picks for your family, this year we’ve organized our highlights by type of show. Whether you’re looking for a splurge, a first show for your preschooler, a way to expose your kids to classical music or the show that will engage your teen, we’ve got the goods. As always, this is just a taste of the arts feast. See for a complete list. (Two notes: If an age recommendation is not included, it wasn’t listed. Holiday arts will be covered in a future issue.)

The big night (or afternoon) out

The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi
Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Center
Sept. 25–Nov. 9
Pause for a moment to be grateful that our region is home to one of the top children’s theaters in the nation. Then run to buy tickets for the opening show of Seattle Children’s Theatre’s 40th anniversary season. Playwright Y York’s adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling tale expands its sweetness and color, touching on themes of friendship, trust and resilience. The set is designed to transport kids to an enchanted East Indian garden. $20–$36. Ages 5 and older.

George Balanchine's Jewels. Photo credit: Angela Sterling

George Balanchine’s Jewels
Pacific Northwest Ballet, McCaw Hall, Seattle
Sept. 26–Oct. 5
Why wait for Nutcracker to expose your kids to world-class ballet? By turns glittering, graceful, sassy and imperial, the three pieces in Balanchine’s Jewels pay tribute to golden ages of music and dance. $30–$184. Ages 7 and older.

Seattle Pops: The Movie Music of John Williams
Benaroya Hall, Seattle
Oct. 10–12
Turn your superhero-crazy children into symphony-philes with one swoop of the conductor’s baton in this stirring pops concert featuring John Williams’ unforgettable film scores, from Superman to Star Wars. $30–$100; one free ticket for children 8–18 per purchased adult ticket. (You can obtain the free kids' tickets three weeks before the event.)

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Paramount Theatre, Seattle
Oct. 21–26
Your little princess — and everyone else — will love the spectacular sets, lavish music and story of this Broadway production. Check website for prices. Ages 5 and older.

Mary Poppins
Village Theatre, Issaquah and Everett
Nov. 13–Jan. 4 (Issaquah); Jan. 9–Feb. 8 (Everett)
One night of seeing the inimitable English nanny fly around Village Theatre’s stage singing “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Chim Chim Cheree” and your family’s fall blues will vanish. The wizards at Village Theatre should do wonders with stage magic, too. $35–$72. All ages.

A starter show for everyone

Olympia Family Theater
Sept. 26–Oct. 12
Huckle, Lowly, Grocer Cat, Farmer Pig — the complex, harmonious world of Richard Scarry’s Busytown comes to life in this silly, joyful musical produced by Olympia’s excellent theater. $13–$19. Ages 3 and older.

Baba Yaga and the Bag of Gold
Thistle Theatre, Bellevue and Seattle
Oct. 11– Nov. 2
Thistle Theatre’s bunraku puppeteers (who wear black and manipulate the puppets from below with wonderful adeptness) stage a Russian folktale about the son of a family who journeys to recover the family treasure from a notorious witch. $10. Ages 3–12.

The Haunted Theatre: Backstage Tour & Eerie Dances
Tacoma City Ballet, The Merlino Art Center
Oct. 18–26
Who needs a haunted house when you have a haunted ballet? Tacoma City Ballet’s popular Halloween tradition includes a just-spooky-enough haunted tour and ballet performances featuring bats, ghosts, witches, mummies, monsters and skeletons. Book early. $5–$6. All ages.

Big Top Rock
Teatro ZinZanni, Seattle
Oct. 18–Dec. 28
Featuring kindie rockers Recess Monkey, ZinZanni’s family show is a high-energy, interactive performance of live music, dancing and top-notch circus acts under the magical spiegeltent. Wandering, dancing kids are encouraged. $19–$22. All ages.

Hansel & Gretel
StoryBook Theater, four locations around Seattle
Oct. 25–Nov. 23
A project of Studio East, StoryBook Theater produces original, highly entertaining 45-minute musicals of well-known fairy tales — an ideal first theater experience. Here, the witch is a crazed Top Chef character who tries to turn Hansel into her next meal. $11. Ages 3 and older.

Musical inspiration

Caspar Babypants and Recess Monkey
Rialto Theater, Tacoma
Sept. 20, 10:30 a.m.
Beloved kindie rocker Chris Ballew performs his original brand of catchy tunes and inspired lyrics in a double show with Recess Monkey, the acclaimed trio of teachers turned rockers. $12–$22. All ages.

The Von Trapps
Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Olympia
Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m.
As much for Sound of-Music–nostalgic parents as for kids: The endearing family carries on the tradition, with four great-grandchildren of Georg and Maria singing in harmony. $16–$54. All ages.

Hallows in the Cathedral: Moonshadow
Saint Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle
Oct. 17, 18, 24, 25
Seattle Women’s Chorus sings spooky, moon-inspired choral music in the perfect setting — the grandness of Saint Mark’s Cathedral. Check website for prices.

Seattle Symphony Community Concerts
Four venues
Seattle Oct. 17, 18, 23, 28
These four “side by side” concerts give students the opportunity to learn from symphony members at rehearsals, and then play together at a public performance; several exceptional young musicians will even have the opportunities to perform solos. Venues include Chief Sealth High School (Oct. 17), Rainier Valley Cultural Center (Oct. 18), Garfield High School (Oct. 27) and Roosevelt High School (Oct. 28). Free. All ages.

Family Concerts: Beethoven Lives Upstairs
Benaroya Hall, Seattle
Oct. 25, 11 a.m.
This concert, part of the Seattle Symphony series for 6-to-11-year-olds, presents the music of Beethoven through the story of a boy named Christoph who lives downstairs from the master composer. It’s an ingenious way to expose kids to the riches of classical music. $15–$20.

Photo credit: Jim Levitt

Benaroya Hall, Seattle
Nov. 1, 3–5 p.m.
The award-winning Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra presents a concert just for the short set. Kids can also “pet” instruments, watch demos and ask questions of famed artistic directors Clarence Acox and Michael Brockman. Tickets are free but must be acquired in advance. All ages.

United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra
Kirkland Performance Center
Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Inspire young uke players with a show by this irreverent troupe, which will demonstrate the power of their chosen instruments by performing the works of Robert Johnson, the Sex Pistols and others. $20. All ages.

Total Experience Gospel Choir
Centerstage Theatre, Federal Way
Nov. 9, 2 p.m.
Inspiration embodied. This multi award-winning ensemble is one of the most sought-after gospel choirs in the world and will share the evening with some of Centerstage’s favorite singers. Check website for prices. All ages.

¡Fiesta, Familia, Folklore!
Pantages Theater. Tacoma
Nov. 9. 3 p.m.
Who's up for a quick trip to Mexico in November? Northwest artists Sebastien de la Cruz, Bailadores de Bronce, and Mariachi Huenachi celebrate the country's music and dance traditions in a bold, bright performance. $12–$32/ free for children under 7 (call the box office at 253-591-5894 to reserve free tickets). All ages.

A show to engage school-age kids

Hobey Ford’s Migration
Edmonds Community College, Black Box Theatre
Oct. 11, 2 p.m.
Talk about a timely topic. Internationally renowned puppeteer Hobey Ford explores migration through the story of a Mexican girl named Beatriz, juxtaposing her journey to the United States with stories of other creatures’ migrations, from monarch butterflies to sperm whales. $10. Part of the Edmonds Center for the Arts Family series.

The Wind in the Willows
Seattle Public Theater, Bathhouse Theater
Oct. 17–19
All year, Seattle Public Theater’s youth troupe stages high-quality productions that are free to attend. This is a first-ever collaboration with Woodland Park Zoo, based on The Wind in the Willows. Free; suggested donation. Ages 6 and up.

Meydenbauer Center Theatre, Bellevue.
Oct. 31–Nov. 2
International Ballet Theatre’s dark and dramatic dance production is a local Halloween tradition, showcasing styles from classical ballet to folk to tap, and with just enough humor so it’s not quite scary. $25–$40.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
SecondStory Repertory, Redmond
Nov. 1–23
In this musical adaptation of Judith Viorst’s novel, Alexander’s struggles with life’s daily dramas — gum in his hair, no dessert in his lunch, no best friend anymore — entertain and educate. $10; all-ages Sunday shows, $5 for ages 1–3, free for younger than 1. Grade-school age.

Charlotte’s Web
Tacoma Musical Playhouse
Nov. 1– 9
A new musical version of E.B. White’s classic tale about friendship, loyalty and mortality features music and lyrics by Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie) and book by national award-winning children’s playwright Joseph Robinette. $12–$15. Rated G.

Short Shakes: Twelfth Night
Seattle Shakespeare Company, Center Theatre, Seattle Center
Nov. 5, 8, 10, 11
In these two 90-minute productions of one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, two troupes of kids ages 11–18 perform all the roles, acting on the same set as Seattle Shakespeare Company’s mainstage production. Free; suggested donation. Ages 6 and older.

Little Women
Lakewood Playhouse
Nov. 7–30
Louisa May Alcott’s timeless story of the four March sisters finding their paths to adulthood explores themes of war, family, service and love. $19–$25. Ages 8 and older.

Edgy fun for teens and tweens

A Chorus Line at the 5th Ave. Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

A Chorus Line
5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle
Sept. 3–28
Puberty, gender, love, dreams, perseverance: The Tony Award– winning musical about a cast of hopeful performers explores all these themes via raw backstories, unstoppable dancing and extraordinary choral numbers and solos. $29–$73. Rated PG-13.

Night of the Living Dead
Youth Theatre Northwest, Mercer Island
Oct. 17–25
Break out the zombies and blood-curdling screams: Youth Theatre Northwest’s annual Halloween show isn’t just a haunted house, it’s an entire interactive theatrical experience inspired by the cult film classic. Check website for prices. Ages 10 and older.

Don Giovanni
Seattle Opera, McCaw Hall
Oct. 18–Nov. 1
Blast away any stereotypes of opera as a staid art form by spending an evening with Mozart’s 1787 portrait of the unrepentant, passionate Don Giovanni. Featuring glorious music, distinctively drawn characters and a shocking finale, it should be unforgettable. $25–$200. Ages 13 and older.

Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca
UW World Series, Meany Hall, Seattle
Oct. 23–25
Noche Flamenca, one of the world’s most authentic and acclaimed flamenco companies, stages a world premiere, Antigona, based on the work by Sophocles. Watching one of the world’s greatest tragedies expressed by fiery flamenco should be extraordinary. $47–$52. Ages 12 and older.

8 tips for culture on the cheap

  • Subscribe to a season at your favorite theater or musical organization, which cuts costs per show and helps you plan ahead.
  • Free arts festivals are a great way to sample many types of performances in a couple of hours. This fall, try Arts Crush Rush on Sept. 21 at Seattle Center Armory or Seattle Children’s Festival, a promising new multicultural festival on Oct. 12 at Seattle Center.
  • Look for museum deals for kids. They abound. Kids ages 12 and younger are always free at the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum; kids ages 14 and younger are free at the Museum of History & Industry; and so on. A number of local museums, including the Frye Art Museum and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, are always free for everyone.
  • Go to student productions and concerts. Some are free and most are very affordable. Many middle school and high school productions are excellent. And kids love seeing other kids perform.
  • Look for deals on music. For every adult ticket purchased to the UW World Series President’s Piano or Chamber Music series, you can add two free youth tickets (ages 5–17). The Seattle Symphony offers a similar discount for Masterworks or Pops concerts through its Family Connections program (ages 8–18). Kids ages 12 and younger are free at Town Hall Seattle’s Family Concert series, which features well-known kids’ musicians (accompanying adults only pay $5).
  • Seattle Center’s Teen Tix program lets teens buy $5 tickets for more than 40 Seattle-area arts venues, including theaters and museums.
  • Preview or pay-what-you-can shows, often the first night in a run, are cheaper (example: tickets for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Friday preview nights are only $12). Or organize a group outing and get a discount as well as the fun of a shared arts experience.
  • ParentMap’s online calendar lists hundreds of events a month and allows you to search for those that are free. Find more affordable events and giveaways by signing up for ParentMap’s weekly enews and “liking” us on our Facebook page.


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