This year, Marin Theatre Company (MTC) and Bay Area Children's Theater (BACT) team up again to present another season of fantastic live theater for young audiences. The 2014–2015 series features four exciting BACT productions: Five Little Monkeys, James and the Giant Peach, Three Little Birds, and Fancy Nancy, the Musical!, as well as an original MTC production of Around the World in 80 Days.
This season kicks off with Five Little Monkeys, which runs from August 30 through September 7. Based on the picture book series by Eileen Christelow, Five Little Monkeys follows the adventures of the titular simian siblings as they make a birthday cake for mama, meet up with a crocodile, and disappear in the store. Of course there's plenty of jumping, too. The play (all in rhyme, by the way) is recommended for ages 2 to 7 and runs 45 minutes.
Bring your budding astronauts to learn about space exploration in a hands-on environment at the Space Station, Novato's free, kid-friendly space museum. Located in a storefront in the newly renovated Pacheco Plaza shopping center, the Space Station is a small but rich little museum that offers families and school groups a chance to explore the history of spaceflight and exploration. The museum also organizes the annual Novato Space Festival, a free family event that offers hands-on activities, interactive displays, and the chance to meet legendary NASA astronauts.
At the Space Station Museum, kids can see, handle, and even try on actual space artifacts, many of which have actually flown in space. You can try on a pair of Russian cosmonaut's space suit gloves, don a prototype space helmet designed for the Apollo missions, and even sit in a seat from a Soyuz spacecraft.
Objects on view are part of the collection of the W Foundation, a non-profit founded by Ken Winans and his wife Debbie Wreyford-Winans, and include American, Russian, and Soviet-era space equipment, clothing, photographs, a meteorite, and more. The W Foundation, which possesses one of the largest private collections of space exploration artifacts in the world, also works with organizations and events like Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center, the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, and San Francisco Fleet Week to present educational exhibits on the history of space exploration.
One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theater experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 101st Mountain Play production isRodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, the Broadway classic set in a tropical paradise during World War II and based on James A. Michener's novel Tales of the South Pacific.
Featuring classic songs like"Bali Ha'i", "Younger Than Springtime", and "Some Enchanted Evening", the Mountain Play's production of South Pacific is directed by Linda Dunn and features Taylor Chalker as spunky Ensign Nellie Forbush, Peter Vlikin as French plantation owner Emile de Becque, Tyler Costin as Lieutenant Joseph Cable, and Mia Klenk as Liat. South Pacific also features Randy Nazarian as Luther Billis, Lily Tung Crystal as Bloody Mary, and James Dunn (veteran director of many Mountain Play productions) as Captain George Brackett. Musical direction is by Debra Chambliss.
Kids can get hands-on with 21st-century technology and the arts at San Francisco's Children's Creativity Museum in the city's Yerba Buena neighborhood. Formerly known as Zeum, this fun and educational resource on the roof of Moscone Center is the perfect place for families with kids of all ages. You can literally spend all day here working on projects and having a blast.
The Children's Creativity Museum offers numerous opportunities for imaginative play and learning, and features a stop-motion animation studio, a music studio, a design studio, an innovation lab, art galleries, and more. The museum also boasts a fantastic 1906 Looff carousel, which is currently undergoing an extensive renovation. It and its hand-carved menagrie of 65 animals is due to re-open on Saturday, April 26, 2014, so you won't have long to wait to ride it again!
Marin Mommies presents a guest article from Marin mom Michelle Carpenter, who recently had a chance to get a sneak peek at the soon-to-open Children's Museum of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa.
I came away giddy from a “sneak peek” at Children's Museum of Sonoma County, which is in the final stages of construction on Phase I and on schedule to be open March 29 on weekends only through end of May. In June, it will open six days a week.
I couldn’t believe that this Marin parent of five, who works in the science industry, and who is on a constant quest for learning opportunities as well as birthday sites had heard nothing about this fabulous endeavor. We are all in for a treat!
One of our favorite Bay Area destinations for hand-on science fun Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. Located in the hills high above the UC Berkeley campus, this science center has entertained and educated generations of kids, and continues to offer fun science exhibits and activities. We visited this week to check out their awesome new exhibitXtreme Bugs and had a great time.
Xtreme Bugs, on view at the Lawrence Hall of Science through September 1, 2014, allows visitors to get an up-close view of the fascinating world of bugs through giant insect and arthropod models that move and buzz. You'll find over 100 of these enormous animatronic bugs situated throughout the museum and even outside, and you'll encounter such critters as an orchid mantis, a monarch butterfly, a tarantula, honeybees, and a 15-foot-long Japanese hornet.
Not only can you examine these big bugs up close, but you can listen to the sounds they make, watch them move and learn how they play a critical role in our environment. My kids loved the extreme size and realistic look of these amazing bugs. It's truly fascinating and engaging for kids and grownups of all ages. Some of the bugs were accompanied by an interactive iPad component, too. This part of the exhibit is located in one of the rooms in the back of the building on the first floor. You can visit some of the giant robotic bugs' real-life counterparts in the Backyard Zoo, which features a tarantula, a scorpion, a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach, and an Argentine ant colony.
Performances of Katia & Company's fall production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 6, 7, and 8 at the Hamilton Community Center West Wing Auditorium in Novato and December 13, 14, and 15 at Hall Middle School in Larkspur.
Featuring a cast of talented Marin County kids ages 5–14, this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's novel takes you on a trip through Willy Wonka's fantastical chocolate factory with memorable characters like Charlie Bucket, Grandpa Joe, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and Mike Teevee. The show runs approximately 90 minutes with an intermission, and is suitable for the entire family.
Tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cost $10–$11 and are available online for Novato and Larkspur performances. Tickets may be available at the door (cash only), if not sold out in advance; check the ticketing site first. You can take $1 off each ticket online (and pay no service fee!) for Saturday performances only at both locations by entering coupon code MOMMIE (all caps) at checkout.
This 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 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.