What I’ll be taking my four-year-old to this season!

By: Lisa Middleton

Theatre has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s genetics, but my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Charlotte, has the theatre bug, too –  and having family-friendly productions to attend has made this art form come alive for her! I love watching the excitement and wonder in her eyes when she sees Brent Carver as Merlyn disappearing into the sky in Camelot and hearing her laughter when Stephen Ouimette sneaks across stage as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night.

As we approach our 60th season (which starts this April!), I’m getting more and more excited to share these productions with Charlotte:

  • You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. This wonderful show is being presented by Schulich Children’s Plays. It’s full of humour that she and I can both enjoy, as well as music and lyrics that we’ll be singing for years to come. We’ve already purchased the soundtrack and are gearing up for our big night out. We did the same thing with Jesus Christ Superstar, and within weeks Charlotte had memorized every lyric. She loved the show so much that we ended up seeing it six times! I’m expecting the same reaction to Charlie Brown.

Here’s a great video of our Artistic Director, Des McAnuff, and our General Director, Antoni Cimolino, discussing this must-see family production.

  • The Pirates of Penzance. This will be Charlotte’s very first time seeing a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Given that she loves pirate shows and musicals (she saw Kiss Me, Kate when she was two and Peter Pan and Camelot when she was three), The Pirates of Penzance will undoubtedly sweep her off her feet.
  • Much Ado About Nothing. I can’t wait to take Charlotte to her second Shakespeare play. Last season we attended Twelfth Night together; I was a bit nervous that my four-year-old wouldn’t be able to sit still for three hours, but she proved me wrong. She’s fallen in love with Shakespeare at an early age and I am thrilled!

To prepare for this production Charlotte and I will read Lois Burdett’s  Shakespeare Can Be Fun: Much Ado About Nothing. It’s a fabulous resource for all parents interested in sharing Shakespeare with their children!

Going to the theatre is a really special family activity that creates wonderful memories. Did your parents or your school take you to see any live productions when you were young?

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13 thoughts on “What I’ll be taking my four-year-old to this season!

  1. My first “grown-up” theatre visit was to see “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” when I was eight years old. My parents had season tickets to a local theatre group and included my sister (7) and I in that production. To this day my sister and I are theatre goers.

  2. The first production I remember seeing was the Mikado, I’m not sure how old I was. For my boys the first trip to Stratford was The Music Man but they saw theatre in London long before that, kids are old enough to go as soon as they can sit through a movie.

  3. Pingback: What I’ll be taking my four-year-old to this season! « Beyond the Footlights: Stratford Shakespeare Festival Insights « Acting Shakespeare

  4. I was very lucky my parent’s often took me to the Stratford Festival when I was young. Mom wanted me to see the theatre because she was a page there when she was young – I don’t think she realized she was instilling a passion for live theatre in me at the same time! I saw Three Musketeers with Eric McCormack (how lucky am I?) As I got older, I would scour the festival brochure for Shakespeare comedies AND anything that had Colm Feore in it. I loved Pirates of Penzance when I saw it probably 15 years ago – can’t wait to share it with my kids this year! Hey Lisa, maybe we should go together 🙂

    • Dianne, what a wonderful story! I love Colm too and anything he’s in. Have you been watching his tv series The Borgias? I’m quite enjoying. Charlotte would love to go together with Jack and Alexa, let’s definitely organize a trip.

  5. My mum has been taking me to the theatre and the ballet since I was a little girl, maybe 3. I fell in love with the entire experience and since then we’ve seen almost everything we can get tickets to! She always encouraged my love of theatre, and never got embarrassed if I clapped too loudly or ‘hip hip hooray’ed. I remember when she took me to see The Nutcracker and after the show I was clapping louder than everyone, and I started to cheer. My mums friend was very embarrassed and told my mum that she should make me be quiet. My mum said that I wasn’t making a spectacle and she bet the performers enjoyed hearing someone take such pleasure in their work 🙂 That was a great moment. We had gone to Stratford sporadically to see particular productions, but about 5 years ago we went to Stratford and stayed for almost a week, seeing 1 or 2 shows a day. Ever since then we have made a trip to Stratford for the Festival every summer, and the trips keep getting longer because we want to see almost every play! It’s a wonderful mother-daughter tradition, and Stratford is the perfect place for it. We have our favourite places to eat, shop and wander, and we start looking forward to the next year’s trip on the train back home. 🙂

  6. Lisa:
    After attending Stratford productions for the past 30 years (my partner and I come up every summer and see the entire season’s slate), one incident regularly comes back to my mind regarding “children” in the theatre. We were attending a perfrmance of Anne Frank, the theatre was filled with parents and young people, and we “girded our loins” as it were for a noisy, unattentive audience sharing this wonderful play with us. Seated directly behind us was a man, his wife and their two teenage sons. The pre-show chat between the father and sons was all about “having to come see this dumb play instead of watching hockey on TV.” As the lights dimmed and the play began, a silence came over the theatre, and the audience was quiet and enthralled throughout. As impressed as I was with the respect and attention this relative young audience gave this work, it wasn’t until the end of the play, with everyone on their feet applauding, that I happen to glance behind me and see the father and his sons standing speechless, tears running down their cheeks, with great smile on their faces. I’m sure this mom created at least 3 avid theatre fans that day whose lives will never be the same again for having had the experience…thanks “moms”…a very special Happy Valentine’s Day to you all…!!!

  7. Lois Burdett’s versions of Shakespeare were the first things that got ME interested in Shakespeare as an adult. We all got to meet this wonderful lady while we were in teacher’s college, and were collectively impressed. Seeing a stage version of Shakespeare far outweighs any written version for any student of any age, but the first introduction of the great man’s talents is important as every first impression should be. So, after reading the Burdett junior version, getting to see the play is the really impressive thing. And with the staging of Much Ado About Nothing, what child wouldn’t enjoy Shakespeare?

    Marg Sawatsky

  8. My earliest Stratford trip was my grade 8 class trip in 1973 to see Taming of the Shrew. I was hooked and now I come to see as many productions as I can. The last two years, I have seen everything in the season (and a couple of plays twice). So far this year, I have ordered tickets for 9 of the 14 productions and am just waiting to nail down summer vacation plans before I start buying the rest.
    In 2003, I took my oldest niece Rebecca to see a play–that year she was 13 and we saw The Hunchback of Notre Dame–she loved it and so every year since then there has been an Aunt Wendy/Rebecca outing to see the play of her choice at Stratford. This year, she is 22 and her play of choice for 2012 is A Word or Two.
    The following year in 2004, my nephew Robbie’s grade 5 class put on an Education Week production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Rob played Nick Bottom–he was the only kid who was actually trying to act and to inject some appropriate emotion into his lines, the other kids were just standing there spewing their lines. That year Stratford was doing the version of that comedy with the fairies on trapezes and bungees–I couldn’t not take Robbie to see it. I already had tickets for Rebecca and myself and so I bought 2 more for my sister-in-law and Rob. We let Rebecca and Rob have the 2 front row seats, and Angie and I sat in the 2 last row seats, one section over. I was a bit worried because at 10, Robbie could be a bit antsy but I needn’t have worried–he was spellbound and he too became hooked on theatre, and so every year since then there has been an Aunt Wendy/Robbie Stratford trip to see a play of his choosing. This year, he is 18 and he chose MacHomer.
    In 2005, I started taking all four kids–Rebecca, Robbie and Robbie’s sisters, my other 2 nieces Olivia and Madelynn–to see a play. That first year we saw Into the Woods–and every year since then I take them all together to see a play–Liv and Maddie aren’t as in love with theatre as Rebecca and Robbie, but they do look forward to our yearly outing as a group.This year, we will do a backstage tour, then go for lunch, then see The Pirates of Penzance.
    Besides all the productions I see with my husband (my favourite kind of “date”), my next favourite outings are my theatre trips with the kids!

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