Museums for Kids, Children's Theater

Rapunzel Comes to Marin Theatre Company This Fall

October 19, 2013

Rapunzel at Marin Theatre CompanyThis November, Marin Theatre Company will delight families with its original production of Rapunzel. Performaces take place on November 2, 3, 9, and 10 at 10:30 am and 12:30 pm. Tickets to many of the performances have been selling out, so MTC has added seats to each showing as well as an additional show on Sunday, November 10 at 2:30 pm.

Adapted by Mike Kenny from the classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and directed by Daunielle Rasmussen, Rapunzel tells the story of the title character, a young girl sheltered away by her overprotective grandmother in a lonely tower. This production updates the traditional tale and focuses on Rapunzel taking risks, overcoming fear, and facing the challenges of growing up instead of being victimized by an evil witch and rescued by a daring prince.

Recommended for ages 3 and up, the show lasts for 45 minutes, with no intermission. Tickets are $15 for children under 14, $20 for adults, and $17 for seniors 64+. Tickets are available online at tickets.marintheatre.org, by phone at (415) 388-5208, or in person at the MTC box office at 397 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley (Tuesday–Saturday, noon–5 pm). Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.

Calling All Young Actors! Audition for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Novato This Saturday

September 2, 2013

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryCalling all talented kids ages 7 to 13! This Saturday, September 7, is your chance to try out for Katia & Company's fall production of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Come take part in this sweet journey of discovery and wonder through Willy Wonka's fabulous world of chocolate!

Auditions take place from 9:30 to 11 am at the West Wing Auditorium at the Hamilton Community Center, 503B South Palm Drive, in Novato. A mandatory 20-minute parent meeting will take place after auditions. Everyone registered will receive a role in the production. Children wishing to be considered for a lead role will need to prepare a short monologue and a song (30 seconds or less). You can download the audition packet with monologues here. Full audition details can be found here.

Rehearsals for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will take place on Saturday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30 am. Performances are scheduled for Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7. This production is produced by Katia & Company in association with Novato Parks and Recreation.

The Cat in the Hat Opens This Weekend at Marin Theatre Company

August 10, 2013

The Cat in the HatThe Bay Area Children's Theater production of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat opens this weekend at Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley! This marks both the second collaboration between BATC and MTC and the start of a whole season of fantastic live children's theater in Marin.

Directed by Erin Merritt and starring Doyle Ott as the Cat, this production runs 45 minutes with no intermission. Shows take place on Saturdays and Sundays, August 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 10:30 am and 12:30 pm.

Tickets are $15 for children under 14, $20 for adults, and $17 for seniors 64+. Individual tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 2. Order online at tickets.marintheatre.org, by phone at  (415) 388-5208, or in person at the MTC box office, 397 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley (Tuesday–Saturday, noon–5 pm). Discounted group tickets for groups of 15 or more can be reserved at the box office.

Summer Science at the Cal Academy in Golden Gate Park

July 31, 2013

California Academy of SciencesOne of the Bay Area's favorite family summer outings is a visit to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. The Cal Academy re-opened in 2008 in a state-of-the-art sustainable building that features amazing attractions like a natural history museum, aquarium, planetarium, two-acre living roof, a four-story rain forest, and even a 3D theater. It's definitely a must-visit family destination!

Currently on view this summer is Built for Speed. This special exhibit, on view through September 29, showcases the sea's fastest denizens, from mako sharks and humboldt squid to a sailboat designed by America's Cup defender Oracle Team USA.

Also on the don't-miss list is the incredible new movie The Last Reef 3D: Cities Beneath the Sea. Put on your 3D glasses and find yourself underwater in some of the earth's most spectacular underwater settings. You'll not only be amazed, but learn how these environments are as vital to the earth as the rainforests. We all kept finding ourselves reaching out towards the screen to touch fish and other sea creatures—it was that real! The Last Reef 3D plays every hour from 11 am to 4 pm, and is included in your Cal Academy admission.

Hands-on Science Fun and Education at the Exploratorium in San Francisco

July 23, 2013

ExploratoriumIf you grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, you no doubt spent some time as a kid at the Exploratorium. This innovative and influential hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception has been educating and entertaining families for over 40 years. The Exploratorium is a perfect place for an outing for families with children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Parents, grandparents, and most other grownups will find it a lot of fun, too.

Until recently, the Exploratorium was located at the iconic Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco's Marina District, but it recently moved to an all-new, much larger facility at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero. This new building features all the old favorite exhibits along with 150 new ones, as well as a Bay Observatory that allows visitors to explore the environment of adjacent San Francisco Bay. The new location is spacious and stunning and worth checking out.

Marin Theatre Company Kicks Off Its New Children's Series with The Cat in the Hat

July 1, 2013

Doyle Ott as the Cat in the HatWhen Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley presented Bay Area Children's Theatre's production of Ivy + Bean, the response was overwhelming and tickets quickly sold out. This summer MTC and BATC team up again to begin a new theater series for young audiences, starting with The Cat in the Hat from August 10–18.

On a cold, cold day too wet to play, Sally and her brother had nothing to do, but sit sit sit. And they did not like it, not one bit. But then with a BUMP, that made them both jump, appeared the Cat in a Hat! And just like that, Sally and her brother had games to play and a lot of good tricks to pass the day. Their mother won't mind at all, and the mess will be small... Or should they listen to the wish of their responsible pet fish and send this mischievous cat away?

Experience this beloved Dr. Seuss classic live on stage! This production, directed by Erin Merritt and starring Doyle Ott as the Cat, runs 45 minutes with no intermission. Shows take place on Saturday, August 10 and 17, and Sunday, August 11 and 18 at 10:30 am and 12: 30 pm.

Tickets are $15 for children under 14, $20 for adults, and $17 for seniors 64+. Individual tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 2. Order online at tickets.marintheatre.org, by phone at  (415) 388-5208, or in person at the MTC box office, 397 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley (Tuesday–Saturday, noon–5 pm). Discounted group tickets for groups of 15 or more can be reserved at the box office.

Win Tickets to the June 15 Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover at the Cal Academy

June 7, 2013

Penguins + Pajamas at the California Academy of SciencesWe can't think of a better way to spend Father's Day weekend than at the California Academy of Sciences' Penguins + Pajamas sleepover—it's a fantastic family experience that's both fun and educational. The next Penguins+Pajamas sleepover is scheduled for Saturday, June 15, and we're giving away a pair of tickets to a lucky Marin Mommies reader!

Experience your own "night at the museum" as you explore the exhibits after-hours, stargaze at a planetarium show, enjoy a special live animal presentation, explore the fastest fish and swiftest sailboats in the Academy's Built for Speed special exhibit, and dance and sing along to your favorite tunes from the Radio Disney AM 1310 Road Crew. Before bedtime, settle in for story time with cookies and milk to learn about Pierre—the Academy’s famous wetsuit-wearing penguin.

When the lights go out, unroll your sleeping bag in African Hall, next to the swaying kelp of the aquarium's California Coast tank, or even at the Swamp window, face-to-face with Claude, the albino alligator. In the morning, rise and shine, then head over to the Academy Café for a continental breakfast.

Hands-on History at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

June 4, 2013

Sutter's FortLike many other fourth graders in Marin, my son has been immersed in California history this year. One of the books that he read in class was Patty Reed's Doll, which tells the story of the ill-fated Donner Party from the point of view of one of its youngest members and her beloved doll "Dolly." When we learned that Dolly herself is on view at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park in Sacramento, we decided we had to make the trip to go see it.

Sutter's Fort was built between 1841 and 1843 by Swiss-born pioneer John Augustus Sutter, who made it the centerpiece of his settlement which he dubbed New Helvetia. Sutter's Fort was a welcome sight for many early California immigrants who often endured arduous conditions crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Sutter was renowned for his hospitality and assistance to immigrants, but his lands were overrun by gold-seekers after 1848, destroying much of the empire that he built.

While the two-story adobe Marin Building is original, the rest of the fort, including the 15-foot-high adobe walls, has been reconstructed. Step through the fort's gates, though, and you're back in the 1840s, especially if one of their special interpretive "Hands-on History" programs is taking place.

Butterflies and Blooms Abound at San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers

May 26, 2013

Butterflies and Blooms at the Conservatory of FlowersOne of our favorite destinations in San Francisco is the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, especially when they're presenting a special exhibit. This spring and summer, visitors to the Conservatory can get eye to eye with a butterfly in Butterflies & Blooms, in the special exhibits gallery through October 20, 2013.

Butterflies & Blooms transforms the Conservatory's special exhibits gallery into an intimate cottage garden that plays host to hundreds of butterflies! You'll see over 20 species of North American butterflies, including monarchs, western swallowtails, red admirals, and more, as well as several giant moths like the colorful cecropia moth.

We paid a visit to Butterflies & Blooms last week. When you first walk into the room, you realize you're walking into the butterflies' habitat. The gallery is draped in a giant white net that contains the fluttering inhabitants. The hundreds of butterflies are free to fly around the room and land on the butterfly-friendly plants and flowers like daisies, sunflowers, and zinnias, and the effect is magical. Some will even land on you—we were told it's good luck!

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