will be 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie'
By Kristy MacKaben
For the Mirror
If you take a child to the theater, he will want to go again. If you go again, chances are he'll be hooked. At least that's what folks at the Blair County Arts Foundation are counting on.
The production of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" on Tuesday will kick off the 27th season of the Blair County Arts Foundation's Family Theatre at the Mishler. It will be the first of six productions geared toward children at the Mishler this year.
Family Theatre lineup
"If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" - 7 p.m. Sept. 25
"Santa's Enchanted Workshop" - 7 p.m. Dec. 18
"Junie B. Jones" - 3 and 7 p.m. Feb. 19
"Sleeping Beauty" - 7 p.m. March 19
"Martha Speaks" - 7 p.m. April 2
Tickets for all performances are $8 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $5.50 for children, plus a $3 per ticket box office handling fee. Grandparents are free when they bring their grandchildren. Season tickets are available at a 10 percent discount on individual sales. Subscription order forms are available at www.mishlertheatre.org or by contacting the Blair County Arts Foundation office at 949-2787.
The Mishler Theatre Box Office is open 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets can be purchased by calling 944-9434 or online.
"People start to bring children when they're 3 years old. We capture them until fifth or sixth grade. I've seen so many children in the past 20 years that I've been there, and now they're bringing their children," Blair County Arts Foundation Executive Director Kate Shaffer said. "We try to satisfy all age groups from kindergarten to sixth grade. It's the only opportunity that kids have to see live theatre tailored to their age in this region. Theatre is a pretty important part of development."
The season will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday with "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," based on the popular children's book about a small mouse who wants a cookie, then a glass of milk, then more and more.
"It's actually a review of a couple different stories," said Christina Hoffman, outreach coordinator for TheatreWorks USA, which produces "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," among other shows this season.
"If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" begins with children sitting in the library choosing their favorite books.
Throughout the production, the children read different books, which are then acted out on stage. Other stories include "Amazing Grace", "Borreguita and the Coyote", "Imogene's Antlers," "Math Curse" and "Owen."
"It's great because it gives kids different stories to be aware of," Hoffman said. Children in the audience will be amazed at the speedy costume changes and will enjoy watching different shows. "It's a nice way of getting to explore different stories."
Next in the Mishler Family Theatre Lineup is "Santa's Enchanted Workshop" on Dec. 18. Produced by Theatre IV, the holiday musical features a singing robot, a dancing rag doll and, of course, Santa Claus.
In February TheatreWorks USA returns with everyone's favorite first grader in "Junie B. Jones." The high-spirited musical tells the stories of the spunky troublemaker.
"The music is great. It's really great for all ages," Hoffman said. "She's a female character but she has such spunkiness to her and she doesn't mind getting into trouble, so the boys would relate to it as well."
Kids especially will love the lunch lady who dances, Hoffman said
"It's one of my favorite shows," she said. "It's one of our bestselling shows."
The production will come to the Mishler Feb. 19.
The Missoula Children's Theatre will return for its 20th workshop on March 16 for the all-child production of "Beauty Lou and the Country Beast."
Missoula Children's Theatre will cast more than 50 local children in the show, which will open auditions that week. "Missoula is one of the favorites. Everyone is so excited," Shaffer said. Many children who have been cast in Missoula productions have gone on to perform in high school or with the Altoona Community Theatre.
Though the show shares a similar theme with the traditional tale of "Beauty and the Beast," Missoula's version has a southern/country twist with a county fair and rodeo.
"The theme is not to judge a book by its cover," Chelle Robinson, tour marketing associate for Missoula Children's Theatre said. "This show is very fun for kids. I would say that it is a great opportunity and very fun for kids to see other kids performing."
Three days later on March 19, American Family Theatre will present a production of "Sleeping Beauty," which is based on the traditional story of the princess, prince and evil queen.
Mishler Family Theatre will end the season April 2 with the TheatreWorks USA musical "Martha Speaks," based on the family dog who eats Alphabet soup and begins to talk.
"It's one of our newest shows this year," Hoffman said.