Yes, it’s hard to make time for the arts. There’s soccer and school and required reading, and hey, don’t the kids go to a play with their class every term? And aren’t shows expensive? But check out this list of top performances for families to see this spring: From nearly free Saturday-morning concerts that will rock the world of your tots to worthy splurges, you’ll find something in the Puget Sound region’s extraordinary family arts scene.
February family shows
Rhythmic Circus: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!
Pantages Theater, Tacoma, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Admiral Theatre, Bremerton, March 19, 7:30 p.m.
A troupe of 11 performers combines tap dancing, a big brass funk band and beatboxing. The result is a rhythmic, energetic and joyful expression of music and dance — stomping, shuffling, clanging and tapping. $15–$59. All ages.
The Not-Its! CD Release Party
The Vera Project, Seattle
Feb. 21, 11 a.m.
Back from shows at Legoland and in Delhi (The Times of India called the group “kindie rock pioneers”), The Not-Its! celebrates its sixth studio album Are You Listening?, with a dance-ready, exuberant concert of fan favorites as well as new songs. Free. All ages.
Seattle Children’s Theatre
Feb. 25–March 20
Penned by Canadian playwright Melissa James Gibson and coproduced with the University of Washington School of Drama, this thought-provoking drama tells the story of a fifth-grader named Sasha who ventures out of her New York City apartment to find help with a report on the Brooklyn Bridge. The everyday heroes who come to her aid are neighbors who teach her about bridges, community and what really matters. $33–$40. Ages 9 and older.
Pantages Theater, Tacoma
February 25, 7:30 p.m.
Violin duo Kev and Wil B. return to Tacoma to perform an inventive blend of classical symphonic music mixed with hip-hop and other modern genres. They play a wide range of tunes and employ their instruments in different ways to put on a mesmerizing show. $19–$39. All ages. broadwaycenter.org
How I Became a Pirate
SecondStory Repertory, Redmond
Feb. 27–March 20
A boy signs on with a band of pirates and discovers that while adventure brings excitement, a different kind of treasure might be the most valuable. The lively score includes songs such as “Talk Like a Pirate,” “Soccer by the Rules” and “Pirates Dot Arrgh.” $10; $5 for ages 1–3 for all-ages Sunday shows. Ages 5 and older, except for all-ages shows.
March family shows
The Rising Star Project: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle
Just after the professional production of the hilarious, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical closes at 5th Avenue Theatre, a group of talented teens mounts its own production with help from mentors from the 5th. $15–$25. Rated PG-13; see online parental guidelines.
Tacoma Symphony Orchestra’s Mini Maestros Series
Schneebeck Hall at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma
March 6, April 17, May 22
TSO’s family series is a monthly musical adventure, ranging from March’s seafaring-themed musical voyage with a brass quintet to April’s “Around the World in 50 Drums.” $7–$10; discounted packages available. Ages 2–8 with families.
Peter and the Wolf
Benaroya Hall, Seattle
March 12, 11 a.m.
Word is that Prokofiev composed his timeless symphonic tale of boy versus wolf in just a week in 1936. Since that time, the concert has introduced generations of children to the instruments of the orchestra; this Classical KING-FM Family Concert is vaudeville-inspired and promises to thoroughly engage and entertain. $15–$20. Ages 12 and under.
Tigery and Heavens-to-Betsey Get Lost in the Salad Bar
Seattle Public Theater
March 12, noon
Originally produced as part of last year’s sold-out Saturday Morning Cartoon series at Greenwood’s Pocket Theater, this wacky play about two tigers who get lost in a salad bar is staged in a new, expanded version by Gillian Jorgensen and performed by SPT’s youth troupe. Free. Ages 5 and older.
James and the Giant Peach
Tacoma Musical Playhouse
Roald Dahl’s tale of adventure and teamwork gets life as a new musical set to imaginative song. In zany Dahl fashion, a boy named James slips his cruel aunties and meets up with some large bugs inside a giant peach. An epic adventure ensues. $12–$15. Ages 4 and older.
My Heart Is the Drum
March 17–April 24, Issaquah
April 26–May 22, Everett
A new musical about a young woman from a village in Ghana who heads for the big city to pursue her dreams is a celebration of the human spirit, with a pulsing, engaging score inspired by the rhythms of Africa. $32–$68. Ages 12 and older, but check website for guidelines on presentation of mature themes.
Bellevue Youth Theatre — Crossroads
The talented kids of Bellevue Youth Theatre produce the beloved story of the little girl, one of 12, who lived in a vine-covered boarding school in Paris. $8–$15. All ages.
Seattle Men’s Chorus — Everything Broadway
Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center, March 19
McCaw Hall, Seattle, April 2–3
The famed community chorus sings a showstopping concert of Broadway songs, one of the last concerts to be conducted by retiring artistic director Dennis Coleman, who led the group to become the world’s largest gay chorus (he also directs the Seattle Women’s Chorus). Ages 7 and older. $10, Renton; $15–$73, Seattle.
Little Orphan Annie, The Ballet
The Merlino Art Center, Tacoma
Tacoma City Ballet debuts a one-hour, family-oriented ballet version of the comic-strip-turned Broadway musical about a plucky orphan named Annie who searches for home and family. $10. All ages.
Le Corsaire: A Pirate’s Tale
Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle
PNB’s annual production aimed at children is an 80-minute version of the Byron-based ballet about a band of pirates, a pompous pasha and a magical garden that comes to life. The show is staged by PNB’s Doug Fullington, with music performed by the awesome Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. $23–$60. Ages 3 and older.
Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet
The Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, March 11–13
Auburn Performing Arts Center, April 16
Evergreen City Ballet reprises this popular show about a girl who does not land the lead role in the ballet performance, presented as a one-hour story ballet with fanciful costumes and sets that Nancy fans will love. Post performance, meet real ballerinas from the show. $15–$27. All ages.
UW World Series, Seattle
The name Grupo Corpo roughly translates to “Group Body,” and indeed, this internationally renowned dance company from Brazil is celebrated for its virtuosity and ability to fuse classical ballet with Latin dance rhythms, moving “in rippling, flickering, high-kicking unison” (The Guardian). $35–$53. Ages 10 and older.
April family shows
Cirque Alfonse: Timber!
Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Olympia, April 14, 7:30 p.m.
Admiral Theatre, Bremerton, April 17, 3 p.m.
Kirkland Performance Center, April 22–24
Hailing from a small town in Quebec, the circus troupe Cirque Alfonse performs a show that is a mash-up of thrilling acrobatics and other circus stunts, folk music and small-town Québécois farming culture. $15–$55. All ages.
Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.
Auburn Avenue Theater
Auburn Avenue Theater’s affordable family series stages a production of the beloved fantasy tale, in which Peter Pan and Tinker Bell whisk the Darling kids away to a land where they needn’t grow up — but Captain Hook awaits. $8. All ages.
The Paramount Theatre, Seattle
April 26–May 1
This Tony Award-winning musical, starring a cast of young actors, a heart-pounding score and mesmerizing dance numbers, tells the ultimate underdog story: In 1899, New York City paperboys — including a young homeless boy — go on strike after publisher Joseph Pulitzer enforces new rules that make it harder for them to make a buck. Check website for prices. Ages 6 and older.
Various Seattle venues
April 28–May 1
Cofounded by a graduate of Ballard High School’s acclaimed digital filmmaking program, NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) is the world’s largest film festival for emerging directors ages 24 and younger. Not all films are for all ages, but you’ll find plenty of super-creative films to inspire your young creatives. Check website for prices. Recommended ages vary.
May family shows
Campout Cinema: Spaceballs
EMP Museum, Seattle
May 4, 7:30 p.m.
Get a jumpstart on the outdoor movie season with a screening of Mel Brooks' Star War-inspired parody, Spaceballs, on the mammoth Sky Church screen. Bring blankets and pillows from home and relax under LED stars; expect trivia, giveaways, and other surprises. $10-$12; ages 5 and older.
Mud Bay Jugglers
Edmonds Center for the Arts
May 7, 11 a.m.
Based in Olympia, this troupe started 35 years ago when the three members began to experiment with gravity together. A typical performance is a wild mash-up of theater, dance, physical comedy and juggling. $10. All ages.
Secret Life of Bugs
Northwest Puppet Center, Seattle
A Woodland Park Zoo entomologist helped developed this science-tastic puppet show that spotlights the miniature world of insects through black light puppetry. Performed by Spyglass Theatre. $9–$11. All ages.
May 12–July 3, Issaquah
July 8–31, Everett
In a northern England mining town, it’s boxing for boys, not ballet. But when a young boy uncovers his talent for dance, he defies both his family and societal expectations to pursue his dream. This musical features a fantastic score by Elton John as well as electrifying dance numbers. Consult website for guidance on presentation of mature themes. $44–$72. Ages 12 and older.
Harriet the Spy
Youth Theatre Northwest, Mercer Island
It’s an all-kid production of an adaptation of the beloved novel about young Harriet Welsch, a spy in training who keeps tabs on her classmates in her secret notebook — until it’s discovered.
$13–$17. Ages 6 and older.
A Year with Frog and Toad
Olympia Family Theater
May 13–June 5
You’ve read the timeless tales by Arnold Lobel to your kids over and over, now go see an excellent musical adaptation at Olympia Family Theater. The play, as in the books, spotlights themes of friendship, differences and what matters in life. $13–$19. All ages.
Spring Short Shakes: Romeo and Juliet
Seattle Shakespeare Company, Cornish Playhouse, Seattle Center
In this 90-minute production of Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy, 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 10 and older.
Sci-fi at the Pops
Benaroya Hall, Seattle
Fans of Star Wars and Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone (isn’t that everyone?) will thrill to this Seattle Symphony concert of movie and TV classics including “Darth Vader’s March” by John Williams and “The Batman Theme” by Danny Elfman. $35 and up. Ages 4 and older.
Art on the Fly
Locations in South Lake Union, Seattle
May 21, check website for hours
This free outdoor event, associated with the Seattle International Dance Festival, takes over South Lake Union for a day with wonderful, roving performances of dancers from around the world, plus food trucks and a family activity area. All ages.
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Studio East, Kirkland
May 27–June 19
Studio East presents its world premiere of this story based on Frank Baum’s sequel to The Wizard of Oz, about a boy named Tip who battles to escape the clutches of the evil witch Mombi. $17. Ages 4 and older.
June family shows
Green River College Performing Arts Building, Auburn
The antics of Skippyjon, a Siamese “kitty boy” with outsized ears, are brought to life in song in this Heavier Than Air production based on the popular book series by Judy Schachner. $8–$10. Ages 6 and older.
Shake, rock and roll — 4 cheap music series
NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE AT CROSSROADS
Every third Saturday of the month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Bellevue’s awesome Crossroads Market Stage hosts shows and dances from around the world. Learn subversive square dancing (Feb. 20), Irish set dancing (March 16), clogging (April 16) and more.
TOWN HALL SEATTLE FAMILY CONCERTS
These monthly concerts are free for kids (only $5 for adults) and showcase top-notch acts, from Tacoma family band Pig Snout!! on Feb. 27 to award-winning singer-songwriter Frances England on May 14.
SEATTLE SYMPHONY FIRST CONCERT SERIES
Bring youngsters ages 3-6 to Benaroya Hall’s music education center, Soundbridge, for short, engaging concerts starring symphony musicians and their instrument of choice, including the violin (March 5), the French horn (April 23) and the flute (May 14). $10; kids 2 and under free.
KIDS ROCK SERIES
From Port Townsend’s dynamic duo The Harmonica Pocket (March 12) to rocker-schoolteachers Recess Monkey (April 26), the beloved series at Seattle’s Mount Baker Community Club provides a great reason to roll out of bed and rock out on a Saturday morning. $5 individual, $15 family ticket. All ages.
The Art of the Brick at Pacific Science Center
Bring your brick-crazy kiddos to this mind-boggling display of Lego art, which has been named one of CNN’s top 10 “Global Must-See Exhibitions.” May 28–Sept. 11. Check website for ticket prices.
Painted Journeys at Tacoma Art Museum
TAM continues its series on Western art with this show of works by John Mix Stanley, a leading 19th-century painter who created a stunning visual record of the American West in the mid-1800s. Jan. 30–May 1. $12–$14; ages 5 and younger free, or $35/family; free on third Thursdays.
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair at Bellevue Arts Museum
Explore the intersection of fashion, culture and race at this exhibit about the Ebony Fashion Fair, which traveled to different cities from 1958 to 2009, showcasing designer fashion for African-American communities. May 20–Aug. 14. $10–$12; ages 5 and younger free; $30/family.
Wild Nearby at the Burke Museum
During the National Parks Service’s centennial, the Burke Museum celebrates North Cascades National Park with an immersive, multisensory exhibit on one of the most intact wildlands in the U.S. June 18–Nov. 27. $7.50–$10; ages 4 and younger free; free on first Thursdays.