Editorial board: Holidays offer perfect time to introduce kids to the joys of theater
You'll feast on turkey Thursday and browse for bargains Friday, then go on to mark Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. But may we suggest another way to spend a day (or more) between now and your New Year's Eve countdown to 2020? Set aside time to enjoy the arts this season.
A bounty of family-friendly musical classics and holiday-themed productions open Friday and over the next few weeks in the suburbs and Chicago, making this the ideal time of year to introduce young children to the joys of live theater.
• An enchanting "Beauty and the Beast" is currently delighting young audiences and parents alike at Paramount Theatre in Aurora.
• The practically perfect nanny of the musical "Mary Poppins" sings, dances, charms and even takes flight at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.
• Marriott Theatre is staging the Lionel Bart musical "Oliver!" in Lincolnshire, while a feisty orphan belts out "Tomorrow" at Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest.
• Drury Lane Theatre, the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, BrightSide Theatre in Naperville and Goodman Theatre in Chicago will be sharing different versions of the beloved Charles Dickens' tale "A Christmas Carol."
• And among the many diverse offerings in Chicago is Strawdog Theatre's "Hershel And The Hanukkah Goblins," based on Eric Kimmel's award-winning book.
You'll have to do a bit of homework before you take younger children to make sure they'll understand the play and not be scared, for example, by the ghostly Jacob Marley visiting Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol."
An article at playbill.com offers these tips for taking children to the theater:
1. Select a show you will enjoy as well. If you're bored, kids will pick up on it.
2. Tell kids what to expect. That means sharing "theater etiquette" that doesn't come into play when you're watching TV at home -- and the actors can't hear you.
3. If you can, read the book first. For kids, familiarity is a plus.
4. Stay flexible. It's OK if a preschooler fidgets a bit or wants to sit in mom's lap, but a full-scale meltdown might call for a hasty exit.
5. Discuss the show afterward. And let kids offer their opinions before you share yours.
If all goes well, you can make stage shows a part of your seasonal traditions and ignite a love of theater that will endure long after the holidays.