Most of the winning shows at the annual Tony Awards come out of theaters in New York and London. I’ve lived in both places, and theater was indeed an integral part of life. When I moved to San Francisco, I regularly attended dramatic performances at the American Conservatory Theater and musicals presented by SHN at the Orpheum (my husband and I are going to see Beautiful next month and if I can get tickets, I may take my daughter to The Lion King in November). I also loved going to fringe theater at the Magic Theatre, and I served on the board of Z Space for many years.

I’ve been taking my daughter to music performances since she was just a toddler, and more recently to staged theater productions. I wholeheartedly believe that exposing children to drama and theater helps to develop an appreciation for the arts; it fosters creativity and most definitely exposes her to a more diverse population. She recently took a drama class for preschoolers with Cafeteria Kids, and after just a month, I could see a difference in her confidence and her ability to express herself. She loves to sing and dance (and perform) so giving her an outlet to fine tune her craft was well worthwhile. We’ll definitely sign her up for drama class when it is offered again in the fall.

We regularly check out the local school performances in Napa, like Vintage High School’s recent production of Annie. We also saw Lucky Penny’s Production of Willie Wonka and Cafeteria Kids’ production of Peter Pan, and we often venture outside of Napa (usually Marin or the East Bay) to see performances, especially those that bring great children’s books to life onstage.

In Napa, we keep an eye on Cafeteria Kids, Studio G School of Music and Theatre, and Lucky Penny Productions, in addition to the local schools. In fact, Cafeteria Kids is holding auctions for kids age 7-17 in August for Roald Dahl’s Willie Wonka, and while my daughter is too young to audition, we’ll definitely be in the audience when the time comes!

We love to venture outside of Napa, and a theater performance is the perfect excuse (because it usually means there’s a meal somewhere and/or some other fun activity). We’re looking forward to Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which is opening at the Berkeley Playhouse this Saturday July 23 and runs through July 31.

Bay Area Children’s Theater introduces children to the joy of live theater in the East Bay and San Francisco.  Seeing stories onstage inspires children to explore their own creativity, encourages them to think analytically, fosters empathy, and broadens their understanding of the world. Most of their work—from dramas to musicals—is inspired by the magic of wonderful children’s authors like Annie Barrows (Ivy + Bean, the Musical), Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach), Kate DiCamillo (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), and Dr. Seuss (The Cat in the Hat).

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site the Musical, based on the book by author Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld, opens at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland this Saturday and runs through July 31.  A world premiere musical based upon the best-selling book, many performances are already sold out. A Year with Frog and Toad, the Tony Award-winning musical, based on Arnold Lobel’s beloved stories will be at the Peet’s Theatre at The Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Downtown Berkeley September 3-25. Recommended for age 3 and up. The wonderful world of Dr. Seuss springs to life in the imagination-infused musical Seussical TYA at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley October 8- November 6.  Recommended for age 3 and up. What could be fancier than Christmas? Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas Book (we love the Fancy Nancy books) will be at the Osher Studio in Berkeley November 26-December 29. Recommended for age 4 and up. And in 2017, Pippi Longstocking will be at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley in January followed by Fly Guy, the musical at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley in April.

A favorite of ours is the Marin Theatre Company Family Series. We’ve seen everything from James and the Giant Peach to Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. We’re excited about the upcoming season as there’s something for everyone for the young and young at heart. Coming up is Father Goose’s Tales (recommended ages 4-8) September 17-25, The Jungle Book (recommended ages 6+) October 29-November 6, The Snow Queen (recommended ages 9+) November 26-December 5, and Hare and Tortoise (recommended ages 4+) February 25-March 5, 2017.

Other theater groups to check out include Children’ Theatre Association of San FranciscoEast Bay Children’s Theatre Musical TheatreSan Francisco Children’s Musical Theater,  Starbound Theatre in Suisun City and Vacaville, and Young Performers Theatre (at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

See you at the theater!


Photo courtesy of Marin Theatre Company.