Friday, February 18, 2011

Children's theater in February

Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly

Last Friday I accompanied Kieran's second-grade class to see "Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly" at Oregon Children's Theater (OCT). Often I've preferred the lower-glitz, more down-to-earth plays at the Northwest Children's Theater (NWCT), so I wasn't sure what to expect. OCT plays tend to be shorter and more highly packaged for kids who don't frequent the theater as often. "Diary," for example, was 70 minutes running without an intermission.

I enjoyed the play, though, and its way of educating kids about bugs in a fun, musical, and whimsical way. The set was made of recycled materials. The actors were highly talented (the kid who played "Ant" was Gavroche in the amazing Jesuit High School rendition of "Les Miserables"), but my favorite was "Fly," played by the delightful Lea Zawada. (She played the lead role in "Pinocchio" at NWCT.)

The music was upbeat (and in a rap style) and designed to appeal to lower elementary school kids. I especially liked the "timeout" song: "Timeout! It's jail for kids!" (it starts around 2:20 in this video):

Robin Hood

This evening I took Kieran and Nick to see "Robin Hood" at NWCT while Mike took Chris to see "Urinetown" at Wilson High School (which they both enjoyed very much). NWCT's world premiere of this new version of Robin Hood was comic and updated. Kieran pronounced it to be one of the best plays he's seen in a long time. I enjoyed it, but I definitely preferred "Annie." I think he liked all the swordplay and archery! Nick's favorite character was Will Scarlet, played by my favorite, John Ellingson (who is in most NWCT plays), because he wore Nick's favorite color.

The set was far more spare and simple than OCT's, but the kids didn't mind that. NWCT's shows seem to allow more opportunities for young actors to shine--their casts tend to be larger than OCT's.

The show was recommended for age 6 and up, and Nick appeared to be the youngest one in the audience. I think as our children grow up, our family's love of theater is only increasing. Chris auditioned for his middle school spring musical this afternoon, and Kieran is DESPERATE to audition for a play. We are going to sign him up for a broadway dance class at OCT in the spring--even though he's taking an after-school drama class right now, this will be his first real "official" acting class (at a real theater). A star is soon to be born.

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