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updated: 3/9/2012 2:39 PM

A new children's theater is born

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Remember the first time you saw a live performance? Be it a stage show, a short skit or a band concert, to watch it happen before your eyes was a thrilling experience. There's just nothing else quite like it.

Even after seeing hundreds of performances, it's special each time. Kyle Donahue would certainly agree. As performing arts supervisor for the Fox Valley Park District, he's devoted his career to the business (and production) of show -- and he wants to share the joy which, for him, has lasted a lifetime.

So Donahue is unveiling Parker's Children's Theater as an exciting new way to introduce young audiences to the world of theater and performing arts. Aimed at students from preschool to sixth grade, the program invites schools and community groups for private showings performed by a professional theater company.

For starters, the theater company -- a cast of four professional actors and actresses -- is performing "The Three Little Pigs," a fun, interactive version of the classic tale in a musical format.

"For some children, it may be the first time they see a show, so this version is very friendly with colorful characters," Donahue said. "The pigs teach the angry wolf that the reason he has no friends is because of his temper, so it's a great show to illustrate tolerance, friendship and family."

But it's more than just a show. Before each performance, the performers themselves will sit down with the audience and explain some of the inner workings they go through to create a stage production while offering advice on proper protocol and etiquette when watching a show and interacting with stage members.

Donahue, who previously toured as part of a traveling theater company, is starting small. In addition to school and church groups, Parker's Children's Theater will perform at a variety of park district camps this summer. Eventually, he plans to expand the offering to include middle schools and travel throughout the area.

"But for right now, we'll get started at the Prisco Community Center (in Aurora), which is a great facility for performing arts," he said.

Each season will switch to a new show with a cast of performers "ready to go at a minute's notice," Donahue said.

Oh, and we should mention that Parker -- the Fox Valley Park District's mascot -- will be the greeter at each theater event. I'm guessing Parker will get along fine with the big bad wolf who -- in this case -- is a vegetarian anyway.

They'll make fine friends and, best of all, the kids will get to witness an up-close theater experience.

For information on Parker's Children's Theater, contact Kyle Donahue at (630) 859-8606 or

• Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District.