The Play is the Thing: Children’s Theatre

If you’re like me and are desperately searching for more indoor activities to take the kids to, why not try a play? At least when you go to a show put on for kids, you don’t have to worry so much about shushing your little one when the whole audience is full of children. And, hopefully, you won’t need to do anything of the sort since these productions are created to please the little guys. I was pleasantly surprised to find there are several options in the area as far as children’s theatre goes:

James and the Giant Peach
Arden Theatre Company
40 North Second Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
Daily (except Mondays) until Feb. 8th
Ages: 3-12
Times: Wed-Thu 10am; Fri 10am & 7pm; Sat 12n; Sun 12n & 4pm
Cost: Adults $26-$30; Children (13-17) $18-$22, (12 and under) $14-$16

“Author Roald Dahl’s beloved book comes to life on stage. The show tells the tale of James, a young orphan sent to live with his horrible Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. Life is hard until a mysterious stranger arrives. Suddenly, magic abounds and James finds an enormous peach growing in his yard containing six talking insects – including a violin playing grasshopper – and his remarkable adventure begins.” Advance ticket purchase is available by phone and online.

Upcoming Show at the Arden Theatre Company:
A Year with Frog and Toad
Based on the books by Arnold Lobel
March 4 – April 19, 2009
“Jeffrey Coon (Frog) and Ben Dibble (Toad) return for a revival of one of the Arden’s most celebrated productions in its history! Nominated for six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre and a Tony Award for Best Musical, this whimsical story features an unlikely friendship between a cheerful Frog and a rather grumpy Toad and the life lessons they learn during the four seasons of one year.”

The Secret Garden
Robert C. Gauntlett Community Center
West Chester Pike (Route 3) at Media Line Road Newtown Square, PA 19073
Each Fri, Sat, Sun until Jan. 31st (That is this weekend!)
Ages: 6-19
Time: Fri-Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm; 1/31 2pm & 7:30pm
Cost: $7 in advance; $8 at the door

“The Marple Newtown Players present The Secret Garden, a stage adaptation based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett book about an orphaned girl who finds wonder, friendship, and redemption in an abandoned garden on her reclusive uncle’s Yorkshire estate. The show takes place in the auditorium of the Gauntlett Community Center; snacks are available for purchase after the performance.” Guests should enter via Radnor Drive off of West Chester Pike; ample off-street parking is available. Advance ticket purchase is available online.

*Or, if you miss the Secret Garden, catch the upcoming play here:
Oz! Theater for Children
Mar. 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 2009
Fridays 7:00 PM, Saturdays & Sundays 2:00 PM
All Seats $8.00 at the door, $7.00 advance

The Snow Queen
Hedgerow Theatre
64 Rose Valley Road Media, PA 19063
Each Sat. until March 7th
Ages: 4-12
Time: 11am
Cost: Adults $11; Children $9

“A musical stage adaptation of The Snow Queen tells the story of Gerda, who must rescue her best friend, Kai, from the Snow Queen, and features lots of audience participation. After the performance, guests can mingle with characters from the show and enjoy juice and cookies in the lobby.” Advance ticket purchase is available online.

*Upcoming shows at Hedgerow Theatre:
Snow White & the Little People
Saturdays, Feb. 14-March 7 at 1:30 p.m.
“Little people from the audience will help free Snow White from the Evil Queen’s spell.” This show is available to tour; call for details.

Charlotte’s Web
Saturdays, March 14-May 23 at 11 a.m.
“The classic tale of the friendship between Wilbur the Pig and Charlotte the Spider.” Please note – there is no show May 2.

Nate the Great
Walnut Street Theatre
825 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
Ages: 5-12
Time: 10:30am, 1pm & 3:30pm
Cost: $10-$14

“Nate must solve the baffling case of a missing painting when Theatreworks/USA presents Nate the Great, a musical stage production based on books by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.” Advance ticket purchase is available online.

Upcoming shows at this Walnut Street Theatre:

The Berenstain Bears’ Family Matters
Saturday, March 21 and April 4
Weekday performances on March 20, 27 and April 2, 2009
“Can you BEAR it? Someone has a hand in the cookie jar! Grrrrr. The Berenstain Bears’ Family Matters is a delightful new musical that weaves classic Berenstain Bear books into one big bear of an adventure. Brother Bear has trouble with a school quiz, so he hides it in the cookie jar. Sister Bear makes friends with a frog and hides it in the cookie jar. Papa has been eating candy when he’s supposed to be on a diet, and the wrapper ends up in the cookie jar! It doesn’t take a detective to know that someone’s going to find out! Let’s follow the cookie trail… it’s up to Mama to sort things out, with the help of Grizzly Gran and Grizzly Gramps of course. We learn that no matter how crazy family life may be—in the end, Family Matters!”

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