There was a time not more than 75 years ago that children’s theatre didn’t really exist. Plays were written for adults. Clown shows for families.
But today, without a doubt, it is a golden age for children’s theatre in Canada. As an entertainment leader, Arden Theatre presents some of the country’s most inventive theatre-makers in four shows throughout the 2019-2020 season.
This year’s springboard to family entertainment is Paper Playground, a Foolish Operations presentation for the Noisy Theatre crowd, the preschool gang.
Vancouver-based Foolish Operations encourages children to learn through play using a multi-sensory experience. Set on a paper carpet, Paper Playground inspires exploration through dance, live music, drawing, projections and tactile reinforcement.
“The mandate is all about play. It allows children to play with very little structure. Foolish Operations creates an inspiring set and the kids are asked to participate,” said professional programming presenter Caitlin North.
Unlike the 99 per cent of shows that are one-offs, Paper Playground runs Thursday, Oct. 17 to Saturday, Oct. 19 with two shows every day at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 adult and $5 children.
Everyone knows Raffi and Fred Penner. They are considered national treasures. Less well known is Ginalina, a family folk-singer and songwriter based out of Vancouver.
Her fourth record titled It Takes a Village was a 2019 Juno nominee and she’s garnered a score of awards, including a Western Canadian Music Award as Children’s Artist of the Year.
A former engineer and the mother of four, her rootsy, upbeat songs reflect a science background and the world of nature around us. At any given concert, she may have the audience roaring like a lion or howling at the moon.
“She’s a great songwriter for families, not just for kids. I have all her albums. She’s really good at connecting with kids who have a short attention span. They can suddenly sit, listen and participate,” North said.
Ginalina performs Friday, Nov. 8. Tickets are $10 adults and $5 for children.
The Great Balanzo has performed his wacky blend of circus and comedy on numerous occasions in St. Albert. His popularity stems from character-driven performances that blend comedy, juggling, balance, levitation and vaudeville theatrics.
“He’s really a beloved performer, one of those performers that appeals to all ages. This will be a different family-oriented show.”
The Great Balanzo performs Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Tickets are $18 adults and $15 children.
The last family show of the season is Dufflebag Theatre’s trip into a magical world where an arrogant prince insults a mysterious old woman and is transformed into a hideous beast.
But in this version of Beauty and the Beast, cast members invite their munchkin audience to take part in the action.
“It’s a fresh spin on theatre for young audiences. It personalizes the show. It’s like the classic fairy tale. There’s a sense of familiarity, but you never know which way it will go.”
Beauty and the Beast is on Sunday, April 19. Tickets are $18 adults and $15 for children. All tickets are available at the Arden box office at 780-459-1542 or at ticketmaster.ca.