March 31, 2014

Review: Leo Lionni’s Frederick At The Rose

Oh the joy in my kids' eyes.

Oh the joy in my kids’ eyes.

On Saturday, Mr. Wonderful, the kids and I went to The Rose to see the musical “Leo Lionni’s Frederick.” We went to the 5 p.m. show, which in my book, is a great time to start a kid’s show: Not over nap time and not so late that it will mess with bedtimes.

What to expect

This is called a dramatic musical, but the physical comedy was a big hit with the crowd, especially when Baby (played by Stephanie Jacobson) tried moving an ear of corn. Comedy gold for my 4-year-old.

The music is pretty good and the cast of five were all great singers.

The set is colorful and over-sized, and I could tell as soon as we walked in the both kids were captivated by it. They had that “whoa” look.

In the lobby, you’ll find a colorful display that you are welcome to add to.

Before or after the show, stop by this display in the lobby and have your kids think about the things they'd gather for the winter. Or go during the  show, like i did with my antsy little 2-year-old.

Before or after the show, stop by this display in the lobby and have your kids think about the things they’d gather for the winter. Or go during the show, like i did with my antsy little 2-year-old.

It’s a good conversation starter for your family.

By the way, like all shows at The Rose, after all performances, there is a Q&A from the stage and autograph signing on the upper floor of the theater. My kids are really starting to like the autographs (though they still won’t talk to the actors, which is kind of awkward).

Cast members of "Leo Lionni's Frederick" ham it up for the kids' picture.

Cast members of “Leo Lionni’s Frederick” ham it up for the kids’ picture.

Timing a potty break

The show isn’t quite an hour long so there is no intermission. That said, the pace of the production allows for a quick jaunt to the bathroom. You’re not going to miss a plot twist.

Is it kid-friendly?

It’s best for the preschool crowd to early-grade school, ages 3-8. Mooch, who’s 2 ½ now, made it to about the 40-minute mark before she needed to get up and cruise the lobby. Anyone older than 9 may get bored.

Will an adult like it?

Honestly, I wouldn’t go to this on my own. It’s good but I’m not the target audience. That said, I loved watching my son react to what was going on on stage. He laughed and he repeated lines he thought were funny; as a parent, that’s starting to be entertainment for me.

What was it about again?

From left, Walter Shatley, Stephanie Jacobson, Wai Yim and Allana Reeves in "Leo Lionni's Frederick" at The Rose.

From left, Walter Shatley, Stephanie Jacobson, Wai Yim and Allana Reeves in “Leo Lionni’s Frederick” at The Rose.

It’s about a family of mice preparing for Winter. Frederick is not like the other field mice in his family. While they spend their summer preparing, he seems to dream away his days. As the cold winter rages on and the stores of food dwindle, it is Frederick’s collection of stories and poetry that brings light to the dark days. In the end, the other mice realize that Frederick’s work has a unique value all its own.

Here's Frederick.

Here’s Frederick.

The show does a fine job showing the value of things like poetry and art. It was pretty charming and cute without being overly so.

If you go

“Leo Lionni’s Frederick” is staged at The Rose, 2001 Farnam St., through April 13 with performances on Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 5 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $18 general admission; call (402) 345-4849 or purchase online at www.rosetheater.org. Discount ticket vouchers are available at all area Hy-Vee stores for $14 each. Reservations are required.

Disclosure: The Rose provided tickets for my review. I was not compensated in any other way for the review. All opinions expressed here are mine.

March 5, 2014

Dinosaur Zoo Live + Promo Code

I knew I had to take my son to see “Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live™” a year ago. I was an Arts & Entertainment editor at a newspaper who reviewed shows and I was attending the Omaha Performing Arts 2013/2014 season announcement. I had my sights set on this unusual show as soon as I saw the video. I was just imagining my then-toddler son and how he’d love this show in another year.

Erth's Dinosaur Petting Zoo Live recreates prehistoric Australia with puppets, teaching children while entertaining them.

“Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live” recreates prehistoric Australia with puppets, teaching children while entertaining them.

Full disclosure, it’s a year later and I’m now working at Omaha Performing Arts, the show presenting it. I still want to see the show, but now with both kids, because it turns out, my 2-year-old is into the same stuff as her brother.

Five performances of “Dinosaur Zoo Live” are scheduled March 21 and 22. I’m so there. How about you?

Check out this video to get a taste of the show.


Weren’t you watching it imaging your kid’s reaction to a dino snout in his face? I was.

The obviously draw are these lifelike and HUGE dinosaur puppets. Some are operated by hand, some have a whole person inside them.

The set takes us back to the time of these dinosaurs roamed Australia (Erth Visual & Physical Inc. is from Australia). It gives children the chance to experience what life was like among giant dinosaurs, mammals and insects in live, interactive theatrical production.

Dinosaur Zoo Live Aimee Louisanne and Triceratops photo credit Chris Waits

Shows aren’t so long a small kid can’t sit through it (they’re not 5 minutes long, though, which suits my toddler Mooch best, but we’ll deal). They’re interactive, meaning some kids in the audience are asked on stage to help. Claim a spot up front if you have a kid gunning to be in the show.

If you go

“Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live”

Dinosaur Zoo FINAL V4smWhen: Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22; performances are Friday at 2 and 7 p.m., and Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

Where: Scott Recital Hall in the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.

Purchase tickets: Purchase online at TicketOmaha.com, 402-345-0606 or save the handling fees and go to the box office inside the Holland Center. Tickets are all general admission and $20.

Save $5!

Use the promo code ERTH14 at checkout to get $5 off each ticket. Offer good only for the March 21 2 p.m.  performance, and the March 22 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. performances. This promo code is good through March 10 on new orders only, and it’s subject to availability.

Tip

Arrive early! There are pre-show activities starting an hour before the performance.

Disclosure: I work for Omaha Performing Arts, the presenter of this show, but all opinions are mine, not my employer. Bloggers promoting this show received complimentary tickets to a performance.

February 28, 2014

60 Days of Science At Strategic Air & Space Museum

Saturday’s a big day at the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Neb. It’s the start of 60 Days of Science – two months of STEM activities and presentations (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) for children. The Discovery Challenge caps off the 60 days, more on that later.

60 days of scienceThere’s a lot planned and depending on what your little one’s interests are (or what you want them to be), you may find yourself visiting a few times in the next few months.

Any time you visit during March and April, you’ll want to check out the Science Zone for kid-friendly activities. In March, there will be a microscope lab, density jars, acids and bases, and an air launcher activity. In April, check out the diffusion activity, popsicle stick catapult, gumdrop atoms, paper airplane and a catapult activity.

Launching - or at least trying to launch - their handmade rocket in the Science Zone.

Launching – or at least trying to launch – their handmade rocket in the Science Zone.

My kids had fun at the Science Zone during our visit, so even kids as young as 2 years old will probably enjoy messing around in there.

If you visit on the weekends, you’ll find presentations and hands-on fun in addition to the Science Zone. Each weekend is themed and each has a presentation at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; following the presentation will be a variety of activities.

Themes

Biology – March 1-2, 8-9

Astronomy – March 15-16, 22-23, 29-30

Engineering – April 5-6, 12-13

Invisible World – April 19-20, 26-27

Here are a few weekend happenings that caught my eye:

This weekend

  • Dissecting a shark. Holy cow. That’s all I have to say. There are biology themed activities after the presentation, but holy cow. Dissecting a shark. Plan your visit this Saturday or Sunday to coincide with either the 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. presentation.
  • Oreo Moon Phases. This is one of the activities that follows the astronomy week presentation on March 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30. It just sounds tasty.

Do you have a mini Einstein that totally rocked a science fair this year? You’ll want to check out the Discovery Challenge on April 30. STEM Champions (qualifiers had to place first through third in any STEM related competition) from around the region will display their projects at the museum. That in itself would be interesting to check out – I’m sure there will be some impressive projects.

The projects will be judged and the winner not only gets bragging rights, he or she will get cold hard cash, as well the student’s teacher. Get all of the details here. Applications accepted through April 15.

 

If you go

Address: Strategic Air & Space Museum, 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, Nebraska

Hours: Open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: $12 for adults; $11 for 65+ and active/retired military; $6 for kids (4-12); free for kids 3 and younger and members

January 7, 2014

5 Things To Do At The Omaha Zoo In Winter

Sometimes you feel like you get the zoo all to yourself in the winter.

Sometimes you feel like you get the zoo all to yourself in the winter.

The best time to visit Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is in the winter.

Seriously.

Do you really enjoy trudging through the zoo on a 96-degree day in the summer, melting as you carry one of your kids (usually the one with who sweats the most), battling a crowd of people to catch a momentary glimpse of an animal before moving on to the next exhibit to catch an even briefer peek at an animal? No, but you have to do it because your kids love the zoo no matter the season.

I love the Omaha zoo this time of year because fewer people want to visit it right now. But, those who bundle up are rewarded with a great zoo experience. It’s peaceful in the off-season, there are no crowds to battle for the best view and the animals are more active.

Here’s what to do on  your blissful winter day at the zoo:

Head for the tropics: An obvious stop is the Lied Rainforest. Pretend you’re somewhere else on a jungle adventure with the kids, especially when you walk through the lower level. When you’re there in the winter, you notice things – like the free-flying bats. Moving on.

Tip: There's a coat rack near the entrance to the restaurant that's connected to the rain forest. Ditch your heavy coats there before entering the jungle.

Tip: There’s a coat rack near the entrance to the restaurant that’s connected to the rain forest. Ditch your heavy coats there before entering the jungle.

Turn up the heat: If the humidity of the jungle isn’t your thing (as if your winter hat wasn’t giving you a bad enough hair day), head to the Desert Dome. This place is best viewed when there isn’t a packed line of people snaking through there. Take your time and have your kids count the animals they can spot in each exhibit.

Night Crawlers: While you’re at the Desert Dome, you’d better visit the lower level and see all the creatures of the night. It’s extra fun (and mysterious) to explore this exhibit when it feels like your family is the only one down there.

On the Waterfront: Sing with me now, “Under the sea/ Under the sea/ Darling it’s better/ Down where it’s wetter/ Take it from me.” Or not. Anyway, now that that song is in your head, let’s talk about why I love, love, love the aquarium in the winter. It’s surreal to walk through there without a horde of people. You hear the New Age-y music piped overhead mixed with sounds of the ocean.  And your kids don’t have to fight with 20 others to play on the interactive water projection mat or wait their turn to sit in the bubble by the penguins.

  • The bubble that juts into the penguin's tank is a popular one. Visit in the winter and your little guy won't have to wait too long to get up close.

    The bubble that juts into the penguin’s tank is a popular one. Visit in the winter and your little guy won’t have to wait too long to get up close.

  • It’s Lemur Time: It’s a bit more of a trek than the other indoor exhibits mentioned above, but the Madagascar building is full of exotic animals to check out. Since it’s a further walk than the others, you can bet fewer people will be there.

There are a lot of exhibits open in the winter that I didn’t mention – if you’re sticking close to the main entrance, you can check out the Mutual of Omaha Pavilion – and they’re well worth checking out if you want to make the most of your visit. In my opinion, though, the above are the best in the winter. The butterfly pavilion, in the past, didn’t have as many butterflies fluttering about in the winter and the gorrilla building was always a little too cold for my liking.

Need healthy eating tips for the zoo? Visit my post Healthy Eating At The Omaha Zoo.

Also check out Free Activities To Do At Omaha’s Zoo.