Summer’s winding down, but look on the bright side — September means the launch of shiny new performance seasons for family audiences. Look past so-called children’s theater (and anyone who’s been to a well-made children’s show knows that it’s not just kid stuff), and you’ll find a wealth of other opportunities to introduce your family to the addictive pleasures of live performance.
Theater, musicals, cultural performances — you’ll find something here for every age and taste. The big shows you won’t want to miss are all here, sure, but we hope you also run across something interesting that you may not have considered otherwise.
We know you’re busy, so here’s your chance to mark the calendar with upcoming dates before the swiftly moving months catch you by surprise.
South King County
Centerstage Theatre Arts offers several shows in its new lineup that are appropriate for teens and adults, but its holiday show, an English pantomime written by top panto writer Paul Hendy, is hilarious fun for kids of all ages. Cinderella (Nov. 24-Dec. 23, all ages) features music, outrageous costumes and lots of audience interaction. The company gives My Fair Lady, the 1956 Lerner and Loewe musical about language and love, a new twist in its May 9-June 1 performances. Ages 9 and older. $8-$25. Performances are held at Knutzen Family Theater in Federal Way. For tickets and more information, call 253-661-1444 or visit www.centerstagetheatre.com.
Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts has a number of children’s shows — as well as family-friendly cultural performances — in its lineup this year. Cirqueworks performs Birdhouse Factory (Sept. 21-22, $32-$54), a blend of circus and fine arts, followed by Indian music and dance by Ragamala Music & Dance Theater (Oct. 7, $22-$34). On Jan. 16, the Broadway musical Peter Pan is onstage at the Pantages Theater ($44-$68). The children’s science/education company Mad Science performs Newton’s Revenge on Feb. 15 ($14-$18), a comic demonstration of the ways that physics affect us every day. In April, Missoula Children’s Theater, with the help of dozens of local school kids, presents a musical reworking of The Little Mermaid (April 5, $16), and The Enchantment Theatre Co. performs The Velveteen Rabbit (April 13, $14-$18) with an original musical score, while husband-and-wife team The Spencers treat audiences to comedy and magic in Theatre of Illusion (April 20, $26-$49). Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operetta HMS Pinafore ($44-$68), with its tongue-twisting lyrics and convoluted plot, rounds out the season on April 24. For tickets and more information, visit www.broadwaycenter.org.
Some of Tacoma Little Theatre’s productions are suitable for teens and adults only, but this year’s lineup includes shows that will appeal to families with kids of all ages. Visit the company’s Web site for show content and age recommendations, and for information about special family events in December. Comic musical Auntie Mame (Sept. 14-Oct. 7, ages 10 and older) kicks off the season, followed by family show The Sleeping Beauty (Nov. 9-Dec. 2, ages 5 and older), which was originally produced by the Seattle Children’s Theatre and features music and lyrics by Seattle composer Chad Henry. The last show of the season, The Pajama Game (June 6-29) is a musical romantic comedy that is suitable for all ages. Single tickets are $16-$22. 253-272-2281, www.tacomalittletheatre.com
This season, the Lakewood Playhouse presents Holes (Oct. 19-Nov. 11), the best-selling young adult novel by Louis Sachar; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music (Dec. 7-Jan. 13); and Once Upon This Island (March 28-April 20), a Caribbean-flavored theatrical adaptation of the story of The Little Mermaid. Tickets are $12-$22, and can be purchased by calling 253-588-0042. Visit www.lakewoodplayhouse.com for more information.
The Jewel Box Theatre in Poulsbo presents a series of children’s shows through spring. Joey Pipia’s magic show returns on Sept. 22, followed by a show by Puppets Please Marionettes (Nov. 17) and Last Leaf Production’s King Midas and the Golden Touch (Feb. 2). Craig Jacob-Brown performs his puppet show, The Pilgrimage, on April 5, and Last Leaf Productions is back with The Musicians of Bremen on May 31. The season ends with Kathy Currie’s show, More Fractured Fairytales, on July 19. All tickets are $7, 3 and younger free. Reservations are suggested: 360-779-9688. www.jewelboxpoulsbo.org
Bainbridge Performing Arts on Bainbridge Island presents several performances this year suitable for families with kids in grade school and beyond. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Oct. 12-28), the smash-hit Broadway musical, kicks off the season, followed by Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Dec. 7-16), a comedy about love and mistaken identity. The Broadway musical The Secret Garden, based on Francis Hodgson Burnett’s story of a sour young girl’s transformation after discovering an almost-magical walled garden, is onstage May 9-25. $15-$20. Call for tickets: 206-842-8569, or visit www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org.
Olympia’s Capital Playhouse, in addition to offering performing arts classes and a choir for kids (see Web site for details), presents “Season in a Box,” musicals suitable for older children and adults. Black comedy Sweeney Todd (Oct. 4-27), a tale of false imprisonment and grisly revenge in 19th-century London with a score by Stephen Sondheim, is the first offering of the season. The comedic 1940s Radio Hour (Nov. 29-Dec. 22) takes place inside a radio station and features the big-band music of the era. Side Show (March 13-April 5), set against a backdrop of Depression-era vaudeville, is based on the true story of conjoined twins and showbiz sibs Daisy and Violet Hilton. The season closes with Man of La Mancha (May 8-31), in which Miguel Cervantes encounters the Spanish Inquisition and, in order to save his skin in jail, stages a production of Don Quixote. For more information about each show’s content, visit the Playhouse’s Web site. Single tickets $19-$31. 360-943-2744, www.capitalplayhouse.com
The Washington Center for Performing Arts in Olympia offers an interesting lineup of family-friendly shows this season. Cirqueworks performs circus feats inspired by 20th century artists in Birdhouse Factory (Nov. 3, $20.75-$40.50), followed by It’s Magic (Nov. 15, $20.75-$41.50), a show of illusion and sleight of hand that’s been in performance since 1956. Into 2008, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Peter Pan (Jan. 17, $29.75-$59.50) takes the stage with Tinkerbell and the crew. The Tapestry Dance Company shows off dazzling tap moves, accompanied by a live jazz trio, in The Souls of Our Feet (Feb. 19, $19.75-$39.50). Grammy Award-winning African American a capella group Sweet Honey in the Rock performs April 11 ($18.75-$37.50). The season wraps up with Gilbert & Sullivan’s satiric light opera HMS Pinafore (April 25, $29.75-$59.50), performed by England’s Carl Rosa Opera. For tickets and more information, call 360-753-8586 or visit www.washingtoncenter.org.
Regional company Seattle Children’s Theatre kicks off its new season with the phenomenally popular Disney’s High School Musical (Sept. 14-Nov. 24, ages 8 and older), a pop-music-infused look at high school social life directed by Artistic Director Linda Hartzell. The remarkable adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Big Friendly Giant, last seen at SCT in 2003, is back for another run this fall, opening on Oct. 19 (through Dec. 16, ages 5 and older). A world premiere of the fantasy The Neverending Story runs Dec. 7-Jan. 27 (ages 7 and older). Rita Giomi’s world-premiere adaptation of Shakespeare’s ghost story Hamlet is on stage Jan. 25-Feb. 24 (ages 11 and older), followed by a play about doing the right thing, The Hundred Dresses (Feb. 22-April 6, ages 8 and older). According to Coyote, inspired by Native American trickster lore, runs March 14-May 4 (ages 6 and older). The season ends with the world-premiere musical Busytown, based on Richard Scarry’s book What Do People Do All Day? and aimed at very young kids (ages 4 and older). ASL-interpreted shows are available. $16-$32. 206-441-4488, www.sct.org