Lights, Camera, Action! Theatrical Fun for the Whole Family
If you have yet to see a musical or theater production with the family, the winter is the best time to do so! When it is too wet or too chilly to enjoy our local parks, most area theaters have back-to-back productions throughout these months and most will provide you with a guide for follow-up activities and discussions at home. As always, check for discounts at www.goldstar.com and www.ticketplace.org. Consider celebrating a birthday by taking the kids to see a live show–there are often hefty discounts for groups or 15 or more.
Here is our list of Washington, DC area children’s theater and music venues that we have grown to love over the years:
Imagination Stage, Bethesda, MD
Just before Christmas, we had the pleasure of seeing a live production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and it was perhaps the best show we’ve seen all year. While we’ve seen several shows for the pre-school audience, this was our first “big kid” show at Imagination Stage, and it did not disappoint! The costumes, stage design, and music were Broadway-worthy and the actor meet-and-greet afterwards was the perfect ending. The theater is quaint, so no seat is a bad seat. Parking is conveniently located in the garage next to the theater and is FREE on weekends! Be sure to call on Monday mornings at 10am to see if you can score $10 tickets–a limited number are set aside each week, and it is first come, first served. For the toddler and pre-school crowd, check out a show for younger audiences, lasting approximately 30-40 minutes, and involving a bag of props for each child to fully participate in the show. Saturday and Sunday morning drop-in classes offer an opportunity to develop theater skills while using your children’s favorite authors and musicians.
College of Southern Maryland Community Arts, La Plata
CSM presents several children’s shows throughout the year, usually remakes of popular children’s books. We thoroughly enjoyed CSM’s rendition of The Little Prince last year and we look forward to seeing the upcoming rendition of Knuffle Bunny in March. Parking is free and the theater is never crowded.
Adventure Theater at Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo
While the carousel may be closed for the winter, Glen Echo park offers some beautiful hiking and great children’s theater. We caught a production of the classic tale Goodnight Moon here a couple years ago and we loved the small theater size–we could see every detail of the set. Parking is free and tickets are often discounted on www.ticketplace.org . We hope to be able to catch a showing of Ella Enchanted before the season ends.
Arts on the Horizon, Alexandria, VA
Geared more for the 1-5 year old crowd, Arts on the Horizon offers 20-30 minutes long shows, most of which involve no dialogue at all. Instead, the actors rely on dance, musical instruments, body language and colorful props to tell the story. Tickets are around $9 each and parking is free along the street or in the church parking lot. We have seen several shows with Arts on the Horizon over the years, and have always left feeling inspired. Catch the upcoming Nutt and Bolt, a play about robots with all props and set design created with recycled materials!
Arts on Stage, Annapolis, MD
From African dancing to Dr. Seuss and everything in between, Arts on Stage offers a wide variety of cultural and educational performances that the entire family can enjoy. Tickets are affordable and parking is free. We had a rockin’ good time last year at a concert where all instruments were made from upcycled materials and all the songs encouraged children to recycle, conserve water and protect the environment.
Publick Playhouse and Harmony Hall Regional Centers
Operated by Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation, the regional centers offer weekday children’s performances and weekend family-friendly concerts. Tickets are very affordable and parking is always free. Shows can sell out, so book early, and seating is not assigned, so arrive early to claim good seats.
We have seen over a dozen shows at the regional centers within the past few years, from Latin American storytelling and Chinese acrobats, to magicians and modern renditions of classic fairytales.
Other area theater companies that we haven’t’ visited but come highly recommended:
Theater on the Run, Arlington, VA
The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo
Anacostia Playhouse (just blocks from the Anacostia Metro stop), Washington, DC
Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children’s Theater, Hagerstown
Photo by Arts on the Horizon.