Children's Theater

The Insider's Guide to the 2011 Mountain Play: Hairspray

May 20, 2011

Hairspray at the 2011 Mountain PlayOne of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theater experience on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for 98 years. 2011's Mountain Play production is the Tony Award-winning Hairspray, the story of self-proclaimed "pleasantly plump" teenager Tracy Turnblad as she simultaneously pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation in 1962 Baltimore. Winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Hairspray features a heart pounding score of such favorites as Welcome to the '60s, Good Morning, Baltimore, Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now and You Can’t Stop the Beat. Hairspray is based on the 1988 movie of the same name written and directed by cult filmmaker John Waters.

The Mountain Play's production of Hairspray features a professional cast (including local singer/songwriter and children's performer Susan Zelinsky, AKA Susan Z, as Velma Von Tussle), and is directed by Marin drama legend and Mountain Play veteran James Dunn.

Spend a Fantastic Year with Frog and Toad at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage

March 28, 2011

Bird from A Year with Frog and ToadFans of Arnold Lobel's classic series of Frog and Toad books will be charmed and entranced by Bay Area Children's Theatre's production of A Year with Frog and Toad. Even if you're not familiar with the adventures of the titular amphibian duo, you'll still enjoy this fun-filled live musical that chronicles the adventures of the best friends Frog and Toad.

A Year with Frog and Toad plays on weekends at 2 pm through April 17 at the Freight and Salvage coffeehouse on Addison Street in downtown Berkeley, and it's well worth the short drive from Marin. Our family took in a performance on opening weekend, and had one of our best children's theater experiences ever!

Charlie Cromer and William O'Neill are a delight in the roles of Frog and Toad, respectively, and the cast of supporting characters is expertly handled by Elana Cowen, Rebecca Pingree, and Reggie White, all of whom tackle the multiple roles of birds, moles, a turtle, a mouse, and more. White, in particular, just about steals the show as the enthusiastic but slow-moving snail who gives a literal read on the term "snail mail".

A Year with Frog and Toad Opens Saturday at Freight & Salvage

March 23, 2011

A Year with Frog and ToadSome of our favorite children's books are those in the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. You and your children can see Lobel's beloved amphibian characters brought to life starting this Saturday, March 26, when the Bay Area Children's Theatre opens its song-filled production of A Year with Frog and Toad at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

Share in the adventures of the outgoing Frog and his more reserved friend Toad as they awake from their winter hibernation, welcome spring, plant a garden, discover that "Toad looks funny in a bathing suit", rake autumn leaves, and take a scary winter sled ride. Along the way they learn about friendship, patience, compassion, loyalty, and love. This musical is suitable for all ages.

A Year with Frog and Toad, with music by Robert Reale and book and lyrics by Willie Reale, made its debut in children's theater before moving on to Broadway, where it was nominated for three Tony awards, including best musical. The Bay Area Children's Theatre production is directed by Mina Morita and stars Charlie Cromer as Frog and William O'Neill as Toad.

Masque Unit Junior Theatre of Marin presents "It Must Be Pinocchio!"

March 2, 2011

It Must Be Pinocchio is Masque Unit Junior Theatre’s annual musical production for young children, based on the beloved tale of the little wooden puppet who becomes a real live boy. This production of award-winning playwright and composer Ron Lytle’s version of this timeless classic features an all new score of tuneful songs, delivered by a cast of fall-down-funny personalities. The colorful characters, fast-paced action, and hysterical humor will please not only children of all ages, but adults as well.

It Must Be Pinocchio will take place at the Showcase Theater at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael on March 5 and 6 at 1 and 3 pm. Tickets are $8 per person, available through the Marin Civic Center box office at (415) 499-6800.

Youth in Arts Presents The Paper Princess and the Piñata

January 31, 2011

The Paper Princess and the PiñataThe Paper Princess and the Piñata, a new musical theater production for children created by Youth in Arts and based on the popular Paper Princess books by Bay Area artist/illustrator Elisa Kleven, comes to the Marin Center Showcase Theater in San Rafael on Saturday, February 5, 2011. With performances at 2 and 4 pm, the show is intended for children ages 3 to 10 and their families. General admission tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Order tickets through the Marin Center Box Office online or by calling (415) 499-6800.

Kleven’s Paper Princess picture books are gentle adventure tales, illustrated in the artist’s unique collage and watercolor style. The Paper Princess, created by a Little Girl, is carried away on the wind to explore her world. The new play was written by Youth in Arts Director Miko Lee, adapted from three Paper Princess books and a fourth Kleven title, Hooray, a Piñata!

The production captures the bright imagery of Kleven’s books using digital projections and original props and scenery recreated in three dimensions by Youth in Arts' professional visual artists. The Princess and her friends will be brought to life via live action and puppetry, with bilingual songs in Spanish and English highlighting themes of creativity, color, shapes, counting and friendship.

CTA Presents Enchanted Sleeping Beauty—The Legend of Briar Rose at the Legion of Honor

January 7, 2011

The Children's Theatre Association of San Francisco (CTA) presents its winter 2011 production Enchanted Sleeping Beauty: The Legend of Briar Rose. This live musical stage play for the entire family runs on Saturdays from January 8 through February 12, 2011 at the historic Florence Gould Theater in the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco.

Enchanted Sleeping Beauty—The Legend of Briar Rose tells the classic story of the cursed baby princess, the wicked witch, and the handsome prince (with a wiley cat and giant spider thrown in for good measure), and abounds in zany, lovable characters and enchanting music.

The CTA was formed 75 years ago with the support of the Junior League of San Francisco, the San Francisco Board of Education, and the San Francisco Opera and Ballet with the goal of presenting live musical theater to the children of the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 1981, it's been part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco's cultural programs for schools, presenting its productions to more than 6,000 elementary schoolchildren annually.

There are two performances each Saturday, at 10:30 am and 1 pm, and tickets are $12 each. For more information, and to order tickets online, visit The Legion of Honor is located in San Francisco's Lincoln Park at 34th Avenue and Clement Street. For more information and directions to the museum, visit

The Fratello Marionettes Return to the Larkspur Library with the North Pole Review

December 13, 2010

Fratello MarionettesThe Fratello Marioettes return to the Larkspur Library with their exciting holiday show The North Pole Review! This fun free family performance takes place on Monday, December 20 at 4 pm. This puppet extravaganza features a juggling penguin, a Brazilian ice-skating snowman, the Hawaiian singing sensation the Hi-Fi Sisters, and more.

We attended the show last year, where the audience ranged from babies to grade school aged children, and everyone had a great time. The show got pretty crowded, though, which is probably why you need to call the Larkspur Library this year at (415) 927-5005 to reserve your space. You'll be glad you did!

The Larkspur Library is located in downtown Larkspur at 400 Magnolia Avenue. For more information or to RSVP for the show, call (415) 927-5005. You can also visit them online at

Be Part of "Beauty and the Beast" in Mill Valley

October 17, 2010

Come join the theater! Take part in the production of Beauty and the Beast presented by Pied Piper Productions and Mill Valley Parks and Recreation. Kids ages 3 years and up can be part of one of Disney’s favorite movies for this spring performance. No audition is required, and rehearsals begin on Monday, October 18 from 3:30–4:15 pm at the Mill Valley Golf Course Clubhouse. Rehearsals will run through December 13 and will then resure on Monday, January 24 through March 7 at the San Rafael Community Center.

Performances will be at the San Rafael Community Center on the weekends of March 4, 11, and 18. You can sign up on at the Mill Valley Parks and Recreation website under course #20566; the fee is $229. For more info, go to their website. Don’t miss out on being part of this fun and exciting production.

Masque Unit Junior Theatre Presents Cinderella This Weekend

March 3, 2010

CinderellaMasque Unit Junior Theatre presents Cinderella, its 48th live musical production for children. Written and adapted by Jim Eiler from Charles Perrault’s beloved classic, the story is presented through the eyes of a wise, comical Fairy Godmother. She and her fairy helpers create potions like the Sneeze Polka to aid an honest and unpretentious Cinderella in overcoming her domineering stepmother and zany stepsisters. Prince Charming, his near-sighted father, an enchanted coach, a glass slipper, and catchy original music add to this tale where love and forgiveness triumph over jealousy and ambition. Audiences will leave smiling and humming the whimsical melodies for days to come.

Public performances take place at the Marin Center's Showcase Theater on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7 at 1 and 3 pm. Tickets are $8, and you can order them by calling Marin Center Box Office at (415) 499-6800

Masque Unit Junior Theater of Marin was established in 1961 by a group of women who saw a need to provide live theater experiences at a reasonable cost for the youth of Marin County. Masque Unit is a non-profit organization of volunteers who combine their talents in costuming, writing, choreography, set design, producing and on-stage performing. Learn more about Masque Unit at

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