“Midsummer” in Mesa

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the Southwest Shakespeare Company is one of many productions currently featured at the Mesa Arts Center

The Southwest Shakespeare Company performs “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Mesa Arts Center through Sat, Jan 22 — which gives you just one more week to enjoy this encounter between the world of people and the world of fairies.

If you doubt the existence of fairies, I have plenty of evidence collected while our three children were younger — books about fairies, hand-sewn Halloween costumes complete with fairy wings, tiny wooden fairy dolls and more.

One of several "fairy" items we've seen at The Doll House in Scottsdale

I’ve forgotten the name of the wonderful catalogue we used to order many of our fairy goodies — but you can find plenty of fairy fare at The Doll House in Scottsdale, a charming local toy store we practically lived at during its years at Hilton Village.

The Disney Store (with several Valley locations) is home to many a fairy toy, video, outfit and more. There’s even a special fairy section on the Disney website, for those of you seeking a fast fairy fix. Think art activities, games and other things that sparkle.

Sesame Street” fans can enjoy a bit of fairy fun with one of the show’s newest characters — a fairy-in-training named Abby Cadabby whose favorite phrase is “That’s so magic!”

Her Muppets “bio” notes an Oct. 21 birthday, which leaves me wondering how Cadabby feels about recent rumors of turmoil in the world of astrology — and why a 13th sign couldn’t simply be called “Pink.”

Our first experience with fairies on stage was a Valley Youth Theatre production of “Peter Pan.” If you’re looking for a local live production your young children can enjoy, you have a couple of options.

This Klutz kit for making petal people was another craft favorite when our two daughters were younger

You can check out “Peter Pan” — being performed by Musical Theatre of Anthem through Sun, Jan 23 — which “features a talented cast of almost 100 children and adults.” Or head to Mesa Arts Center for the Actor’s Youth Theatre production of “Peter Pan and Wendy,” which runs Feb 1-5 (shows are already selling out).

If you’re a fan of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” you no doubt enjoyed this season’s production by Ballet Arizona. Shakespeare classics are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy stories told in diverse ways, with unique twists and varying approaches to character and setting.

This Usborne title is one of many books that introduces young readers to William Shakespeare

The current Southwest Shakespeare Company production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Mesa Arts Center is set in a 1930s film studio. It’s directed by animator Don Bluth, known to many for his work on the films “The Secret of Nimh,” “An American Tail,” and “The Land Before Time.” Bluth elevates physical comedy to fine art.

Remember that Southwest Shakespeare Company does not admit patrons under the age of six. If you’re wondering which Shakespeare productions are appropriate for children or teens, you can check play synopses online.

I attended a Saturday evening performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and was pleasantly surprised to see several children, mostly middle school age and up, in the audience. I had a hard time discerning, based on all the hearty laughter, whether the kids or the grown-ups were having more fun.

I'm already dreaming about all the incredible items being auctioned at the upcoming gala to benefit SSC

It’s a delightfully fresh and vibrant take on Shakespeare’s musings about mere mortals tangled up in a world where dreams meet reality and playful spirits toy with passionate human emotions.

Hard core Shakespeare aficionados may well attend both this month’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Southwest Shakespeare Company and the Utah Shakespeare Festival production in Cedar City from Jun 23-Sept 3.

If your children aren’t old enough to join you for the SSC show this time around, you still have plenty of opportunities to expose them to the works of William Shakespeare — through books and local theater workshops that introduce the works and whimsy of the Bard.

Remember too that the Southwest Shakespeare Company has several education-related offerings for local schools, as well as individuals, which you can explore by clicking here. Think field trips, classroom workshops, student matinees and more.

This book by Lois Burdett, from the Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series, is a great way to introduce Shakespeare to younger children

Several educators, including a Montessori teacher and the head of a high school theater department in Florence, cheerfully chimed in during a post-show “talk back” with SSC artistic director Jared Sakren and the cast to compliment the company for bringing Shakespeare to life and even offering audition advice that helped a student land her first lead role in a community theater production.

If your school or community theater is presenting a Shakespeare-related performance or educational opportunity in the coming months, please comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: Options for very young theater goers include Childsplay, Cookie Company, the Great Arizona Puppet Theater and more. You can always find family-friendly events through the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine — which includes special sections on art exhibits and performing arts offerings.

Coming up: Musical theater meets Monty Python, “Spring Awakening” returns to ASU Gammage, Local theater productions based on children’s books, A high school theater program in Florence, “Midsummer” meets Montessori


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