Tag Archives: family calendar

Sounds of the season

Guitar ornaments from the Museum Shop at the Musical Instrument Museum

My search for concerts with a holiday theme began at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, where I recently spotted a festive collection of ornaments with a music vibe. Here’s a nifty summary, provided by the MIM, of their holiday concert offerings — always check before going to confirm details…

December 3, Saturday

Museum Encounter: Holiday Favorites with the Desert Echoes Flute Project. 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Main Courtyard. Get in the holiday mood as this 22-member ensemble performs holiday favorites with flutes of all shapes and sizes. Tickets: Free with museum admission. 

Concert: Deck the Halls – Family Holiday Classics with the Phoenix Opera. 2:30 p.m., MIM Music Theater. Holiday songs enchant even the youngest listener. Revel in the beauty of “O Holy Night,” sing along with “Jingle Bells,” and even meet Santa as you and your family celebrate the season with the Phoenix Opera and the Phoenix Opera Orchestra. Tickets: $25 (includes dessert). 

Concert: Hallelujah! Joys of the Season with the Phoenix Opera. 7:00 p.m., MIM Music Theater. Phoenix Opera and the Phoenix Opera Orchestra present a tribute to the holidays, featuring highlights from the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah as well as traditional and international holiday gems. Tickets: $35. 

December 4, Sunday 

Museum Encounter: Bartholomew Faire and Stories of the Yuletide. 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., Main Courtyard. Hear the ancient musical roots of our holiday traditions with Bartholomew Faire and ancient Welsh, Irish, and German poems and stories selected for the yuletide. Tickets: Free with museum admission. 

Museum Encounter: James Gerber and Holiday Favorites on the Rathke Organ. 2:00 p.m., Alcove 3. Join James Gerber, one of MIM’s own, to celebrate the season with a performance of holiday favorites on the Rathke “Visible” Organ. Tickets: Free with museum admission.

December 10, Saturday  

Museum Encounter: Bells of Paradise. 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., North El Río. The entire family will enjoy this five-octave, 15-member handbell and chime choir from Paradise Valley United Methodist Church. Tickets: Free with museum admission.

Museum Encounter: Dickens Carolers. 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. A quartet dressed in Victorian-era attire will delight the audience with four-part holiday songs. Tickets: Free with museum admission. 

December 11, Sunday 

Museum Encounter: Chai Tones Klezmer. 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Main Courtyard. Although their specialty is klezmer―the heart and soul of their Jewish roots―the musicians of the Chai Tones also incorporate jazz, country and western, baroque, and Irish jigs into their music. Tickets: Free with museum admission. 

Museum Encounter: Arizona Opera and the Gift of Music. 12:30 and 3:00 p.m., Alcove 1. Four talented singers from the Arizona Opera Singer Circle will perform a celebration of songs that embraces the spirit of the season. Tickets: Free with museum admission. 

December 17, Saturday 

Concert: Jazz Holiday Celebration. 7:00 p.m., MIM Music Theater. Don’t miss this continuing winter tradition at MIM! Special guests join forces with the “who’s who” of local Valley talent for a jazzy evening of winter and holiday favorites from around the world. Tickets: $25. 

December 30, Friday 

Celebrate with SOUND! Noisemakers for New Year’s Eve. 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Get ready to party! Make a fun, festive and noisy instrument to welcome the New Year. We provide the materials, instructions, and guidance–you provide the music! Tickets: $2 per craft with museum admission.

For a comprehensive calendar of events for families, consult Raising Arizona Kids magazine in print and online.


Coming up: Fun with holiday ornaments, Guitar tales, Giving thanks for veterans, More Christmas concert fare, “Munchkin” tales


“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

Let it snow!

There’s a lovely gentleman who bags groceries at a Safeway store in Scottsdale who has an uncanny ability to remember weather-related facts and statistics.

Predicting snow is tricky business--especially in the Valley of the Sun

I’m tempted to make a quick milk and bread run just to get his take on the prospect of snow falling in the Valley this week. He’ll likely know when and where we last saw snowflakes in these parts.

If I want to move from the statistics of snow to the science of snow, I’ll head to the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix.

Their “Science of Snow Week” runs through Sat, Jan 1 — from 10am to 2pm daily. It features “special winter-themed activities and live demonstrations” on various topics.

This snow sculpture is modeled after Robert Indiana's Vietnam-era work titled LOVE

Think how to make snowflakes. How and why crystals form. Fun with fire and ice. And more. 

Once you get home, you can continue the fun by cutting kirigami snowflakes, drawing whimsical winter scenes full of Arizona cacti, creating a snowflake mobile using pipe cleaners, decorating snowflake sugar cookies and such.

Come 1pm on New Year’s Day, you’ll even be able to “play in tons of real snow outside of the Center.”

“The Science of Snow” is free with general admission, rather like the weather insights I glean from my local grocery bagger at no extra charge when I pop in for a simple item or two.

— Lynn 

This "LOVE" sculpture is part of Scottsdale's public art collection

Note: Click here to find other family-friendly events featured in the daily online calendar from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Click here to learn more about Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” sculpture and other public art in Scottsdale.

Coming up: The fine art of glass, Outdoor music adventures, Native American art in unexpected places

Cool choices in children’s theater

For many children, the most appealing shows are those that feature other young people.

It just so happens that there are oodles of shows being performed by and/or for children and teens this month—so take advantage of these offerings to spark your child’s interest in live performance art.

Whether our children grow up to become performers, arts administrators, arts advocates, art supporters or enthusiastic audience members, their lives may well be richer for experiencing live theater with all its vivid storytelling and stagecraft.

Broadway Palm West Desert Theatre presents “Charlotte’s Web” through July 2 at Broadway Palm West Desert Theatre in Mesa. www.broadwaypalmwest.com.

Childsplay presents “The Big Friendly Giant” through May 23 at Tempe Center for the Arts. www.childsplayaz.org.

Creative Stages Youth Theatre presents “Robin Hood” through May 22 at Ira Murphy School in Peoria. www.csyt.org.

Fountain Hills Community Theater presents “Midsummer Dreamin” May 14 to 30 at Fountain Hills Community Theater. www.fhct.org.

Greasepaint Youtheatre presents “The Sound of Plaid: Forever Plaid School Version” May 14 to 30 at Stagebrush Theatre in Scottsdale. www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” through June 6 at Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix. www.azpuppets.org.

 Hale Centre Theatre presents “Princess and the Pea” through June 26 in Gilbert. ww.haletheatrearizona.com.

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre presents “Aladdin, Jr.” May 21-June 20 at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre. www.desertstages.com.

Theater Works presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” through May 23 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. www.theaterworks.org.

Valley Youth Theatre presents “Willy Wonka” through May 23 at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. www.vyt.com.

You can “Double your Dahl” by seeing both Childsplay’s “The Big Friendly Giant” and Valley Youth Theatre’s “Willy Wonka.”

Reading the books before and/or after will add to your child’s understanding of these works, and make for fun conversations about similarities and differences in the stories themselves and the way each theater company chooses to tell them.

Or “Double your Disney” by coupling Desert Stages’ “Aladdin, Jr.” with Theater Works’ “Beauty and the Beast.”

It’s great fun to watch the film versions, but experiencing these shows live may deepen your child’s appreciation for these characters and the challenges they have to overcome.

Remember too that live theater performances make for enchanting play dates and unique birthday outings.

When Lizabeth was younger, we often took a friend along for shows like “Annie” at ASU Gammage or VYT’s “Cinderella” at Herberger Theater Center (t-shirts from the show made affordable and no-fuss souvenirs/party favors).

As long as you’re online checking out these shows, take some extra time to see what else these theater companies offer for youth.

Some, including Childsplay, offer performances for school groups (at the theater or at the school).

Many, including Greasepaint Youtheatre and Valley Youth Theatre, have performing arts summer camps that foster everything from self-confidence and creativity to imagination and teamwork.

Others may be holding auditions for children or teens who might like to make the move from audience member to actor.

All offer time away from the TV, computer, cell phone and refrigerator. Couple a trip to the theater with an après-show visit to your neighborhood park and you’ll engage your child’s body, intellect and emotions for the better.

When you see something you love, please share a comment below and let our readers know—thanks!


Note: You can always find information about “on stage” and other activities with the Raising Arizona Kids magazine online calendar. Check it daily for listings of all sorts of family-friendly activities!

Coming up: Dance delights from professional dance companies, local schools of dance and youth dance companies.

Broadway, beads, ballet and brass

Bring a bit of the arts into your weekend with one or more of these events featuring dance, music, theater or the visual arts…

Dance performance

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez.

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez. March 20 at Mesa Arts Center (Ikeda Theater). mesaartscenter.com.

Essential Martha Graham: Classics of the Martha Graham Dance Company. March 19 and 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. scottsdaleperformingarts.org.

Music performance

Salt River Brass Concert: Way Out West. March 21 at Mesa Arts Center (Ikeda Theater). mesaartscenter.org.

Children from "HopeKids" pose with the cast of "Cats" at the Arizona Broadway Theatre after attending a special evening performance.

Theater performance

“Blithe Spirit” presented by Southwest Shakespeare Company through March 20 at Mesa Arts Center (Farnsworth Studio). A comedic work by playwright Noel Coward in which a writer researching a novel about the paranormal accidentally conjures the spirit of his biggest fan (his first wife). mesaartscenter.org.

“Cats” presented by Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria. 1983 ‘best musical’ Tony Award winner with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Visit azbroadwaytheatre.com for details, including menu information.

“George M” presented by Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa. Patriotic musical about an early American show business superstar. broadwaypalmwest.com for details, including menu information.

“The Hobbit” presented by Valley Youth Theatre. Opens today at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. Play version of the classic tale featuring Bilbo’s quest for a treasure needed to save all the Hobbits of Middle Earth. vyt.com.

“The Immigrant: A Hamilton County Album” presented by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company through March 21 at Paradise Valley Community College Center for the Performing Arts. A true story by playwright Mark Harelik that recounts the 1909 immigration of two Eastern European Jews to a small Texas town through a resettlement program called the “Galveston Movement.” azjewishtheatre.org.

“Johnny Guitar” presented by Theater Works through March 28 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. Family-friendly musical with Old West theme. theaterworks.org.

“The Princess and the Pea” presented by the Children’s Theatre at Hale Centre Theatre through June 26 at Hale Center Theatre in Gilbert. The classic fairy tale in which a prince uses unusual means to find his one true princess. haletheatrearizona.com.

“Secret Order” presented by Actors Theatre through March 21 at Herberger Theater Center (Stage West) in Phoenix. A “suspenseful bio-medical psychological thriller” from Playwright Bob Clyman that considers this question: “What if you discovered the cure for cancer?” herbergertheater.org.

“Sweet Charity” presented by Tempe Little Theatre. Opens today at Tempe Center for the Arts. Musical comedy with book by Neil Simon that follows the adventures of a nightclub dancer who thinks she’s met her Mr. Right. tempe.gov/TCA.

“You Don’t Have to Take It!” presented by Fountain Hills Community Theater Youth Theater opens today. fountainhillstheater.com.

Kellie Agee. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Arts-related Fundraisers

“Bead Inspired” fundraiser presented by Bead Inspired, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to empowering the quality of life of children coping with cancer and other serious illness” that works with more than 60 children’s hospitals nationwide (including Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Cardon Children’s Medical Center). 10am-4pm March 20 at Mesa Center for the Performing Arts (Wells Fargo Garden). Features live music, glass bead making, Phoenix Coyotes mascot, traditional Pow Wow dancers and more. Free. mesaartscenter.org.

(From the RAK Library: Read Daniel Friedman’s story about Kellie Agee, whose beads symbolize her fight against leukemia.)

“Broadway in the Hills” fundraiser presented by Fountain Hills Community Theater March 20 at the Radisson Resort at Ft. McDowell in Scottsdale/Fountain Hills. Features dinner, live entertainment and live/silent auctions. fhct.org.

More family fun

Look for weekend updates “Stage Mom” style every Friday. We’ll feature arts-related events—especially those that are family-friendly. Always check ahead to assure the suitability of material for your child or teen, and to verify event details (date, time, venue, cost, etc.).

Check our online calendar at raisingarizonakids.com each day to find fun, family-friendly activities from story times and puppet shows to craft lessons and outdoor adventures. Please check online for guidelines and information about how to submit calendar information for consideration.

If you’re presenting an arts performance or experience that you’d like to see featured in an upcoming “Stage Mom” weekend update, please drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from diverse arts organizations, local schools and colleges, and others offering unique family-friendly fare.