December 11, 2017

This Place Puts You In The Middle Of The Show

There’s a performance space in the historic Vinton Street area that’s regularly has interactive shows. It’s called Apollon Art Space. We went to a performance at Apollon Art Space recently–it was my second time taking the kids–and again, the kids and I loved the experience. This interactive element isn’t found in too many other theaters in Omaha.

Apollon Art Space is in the charming Vinton Street Neighborhood, not too far from the zoo in Omaha.

What is the Apollon

I go into detail about the theatre venue & experience here, but briefly, it’s collaborative theater where there’s the performer, there’s you, and then there’s what goes on between the two of you.

And there’s food.

“Holiday at Hogwarts” involved dinner served family-style at banquet tables. Houses were allowed to mingle, so my Hufflepuff kin could sit with me.

We attended the super popular “Holiday at Hogwarts” opening night this past weekend. I bought tickets, but then Apollon upgraded them from regular to Deluxe so that I could review the experience for you.

Frankly, my review’s not needed. Nearly every performance is sold out. BUT, if you want a ticket, you can go solo to one of the remaining shows with a seat. Check dates here. Next year, buy tickets to “Holiday at Hogwarts” early.

Taking Kids To Apollon

You may have noticed at the end of a show’s listing the following: “This event is intended primarily for adults, but is suitable for all ages.” I’m guessing the experience is a lot of fun with a group of adult friends. I don’t know. I keep bringing my kids. But everyone around us was a group of adult friends and they were having a blast. Maybe Mr. Wonderful and I should go without the kids sometime?

The toast before the first sip of butter beer. Deluxe tickets to “Holiday at Hogwarts” includes a complimentary non-alcoholic butter beer. The show runs through Dec. 30, 2017 at Apollon Art Space in Omaha.

But bringing a kid can be pretty special (and if you ask me, it really tests the actors’ improv chops and reflexes).

For “Holiday at Hogwarts,” our excitement started with the acceptance letter arriving by mail. Shock. That’s the look on their faces. I got several “!!!” on a text from my niece after she got hers, so there you go. To get a ‘tween excited about anything, you know it’s special.

Tip: The Deluxe ticket to “Holiday at Hogwarts” includes a Hogwarts acceptance letter, souvenir ticket, VIP wand service and wand at Ollivanders,10% discount at all Hogsmeade shoppes, complimentary stationary and owl service to send a letter from the Hogsmeade Post Office, one free glass of butterbeer, and everything you get with the standard ticket (Hogwarts classes, Christmas feast).

Once we were in the theatre space on Vinton Street, my kids were all in, especially my 6-year-old. She and my son were definitely the youngest ones there, but also enthusiastic participants. My daughter went to every professor multiple times to learn more magic (she was totally sold on her wand and its abilities).

Melanie Prentice as Trelawny looking into her crystal ball between classes at “Holiday at Hogwarts,” the annual Christmas show at Apollon Art Space in Omaha.

Trelawny read my daughter’s fortune and gave her some little trinkets and now she has a plastic baggie in her room with her scribble on it stating “Pretty things.” It’s adorbs.

But there are some down sides. The show doesn’t start until 7:30 p.m., and goes on past 10, which makes for a late night with kids. Plus, for this show, the food is served family-style and if you child is the slightest bit picky, he or she will find something wrong with what’s served. We had roasted chicken (acceptable for both kids), bangers (sausage, not acceptable), potatoes and carrots (not acceptable), bun (acceptable), and three kinds of desserts (only the chocolate frog was acceptable).

 

We also had drink tickets for butter beer with the Deluxe tickets. There’s alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. My niece liked the butter beer, but my two off-spring did not. I tried both versions and say to you adults, drink up the alcoholic stuff. It’s costs a little more, but tastes so much better.

Adult butter beer at Apollon Art Space had vanilla ale and butterscotch schnapps added to the classic version.

And lastly, part of the show’s activities were held at Hogsmeade, located in a muggles’ art supply store across the street. This freed up space in the Apollon, but also required us to cross a street at night. If you’ve been to the Vinton Street area, you know muggles don’t take that curve slowly. You should definitely not skip Hogsmeade, especially if you got the Deluxe ticket. You pick out wands, send Owl Mail, and if you’re my kids, beg and beg for a magical pet (hand-knit animals for sale there).

Want to go to Apollon Art Space?

There are different types of performances that occur at Apollon Art Space. Like I said before, “Holiday at Hogwarts” is nearly sold out. Check for tickets here.

The next show is a murder mystery dinner experience called “Murder in a Jerkwater Town.” My 6-year-old thinks it sounds like a delight. I’ll step in and say this sounds like a fun date night or friends-night-out more than a family date night. Tickets are $25 each and include dinner. Cash bar. Purchase tickets here.

If you go

The Apollon

Where: 1801 Vinton St.

Parking: Park on the street, and if you can’t find a spot, there’s overflow parking at the Supermercado Nuestra Familia, 1826 Vinton St.

Website 

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November 20, 2017

Bringing Kids To ‘A Christmas Carol’

I think I’m becoming a Christmas softie. I was always more of a “Scrooged” kind of Christmas story girl, not “A Christmas Carol.” The Dickens classic was a little too sweet. But here I am, joyful after seeing Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of “A Christmas Carol” this past weekend. I get it, now, why families make it a tradition to see every year. I feel like it’s the quintessential show to kick off the holiday season.

This year, I received two complimentary tickets to review the show, so I took my oldest son (he’s almost 8) to see it for his first time.

Thinking of bringing your kids? Here’s what to expect:

What to expect

Jerry Longe is in his 12th year of portraying Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.” Photo courtesy Omaha Community Playhouse

– This is a huge production. The cast is quite large, the sets look remarkable, and the costumes are to die for. When the curtain goes up for that first number, you’ll be wowed by this show. It’s community theater at a different level.

– Jerry Longe has played Ebenezer Scrooge for 12 years, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Granted, I’ve seen Dick Boyd in the role many years back and thought the same. But, Longe really has made this role his own. He adds some fun touches that made my son laugh.

– There’s a surprise at the end of the production. Don’t sneak out when you think it’s over. Just wait.

Timing a potty break

Having a drink in the show? Better know when best to time the restroom break.

The first act is 70 minutes long, so if you or your kid has a small bladder, go before the show begins. The intermission is long enough for a restroom break, though, if you can hold it.

The whole show is about 2 hours and 20 minutes with the intermission. If you partake in any of the Christmas cheer in the lobby (AKA, drinks), you might not last until the end.

What ages would like this best?

Cookies are good rewards for sitting nicely through a 70-minute first act.

This is suitable for most ages, though kids under 3 are not permitted. Early grade school ages would be great ages to introduce this show. The length of the show, though, makes me think that it may be a test of attention spans on really young ones.

Also, I will say this: There are a couple parts that may scare young ones. When the ghost of Jacob Marley arrives, he’s accompanied minions. Those little goblin kids are the stuff of nightmares. (I think they bothered me more than my son)

The Ghost of Christmas Future might also scare kids. I remember the big things being a lot scarier, but it wasn’t so bad this time around. Maybe I’ve grown up.

My son’s a second grader and thought the music was one of the best parts of the show, so there you have it.

If your kid catch the acting bug while seeing this show (there are a TON of kids in the ensemble), then I recommend signing them up for the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at the Playhouse. Here’s my post about the acting class for ages 4-6 and for acting class for ages 7-10.

What’s it about again?

Jerry Longe plays Ebenezer Scrooge during his journey with the Ghost of Christmas Past. “A Christmas Carol” is at Omaha Community Playhouse through Dec. 23, 2017. Photo courtesy Omaha Community Playhouse

“A Christmas Carol” is one of Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition. Grumpy and greedy Ebenezer Scrooge goes on a life-changing journey led by three ghosts.

If you go to “A Christmas Carol”

“A Christmas Carol”

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

When: Now through Dec. 23; performances are Wednesdays, 7 p.m., Thursdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.,
and Sundays, 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. (No performances on Weds., Nov. 22 and Thurs., Nov. 23.)

Cost: Before Dec. 13, tickets start at $38 (adults) and $25 (students). Dec. 13-23, tickets start at $42 (adults) and $29 (students). For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $32 (adults) and $18 (students) for all dates. On sale now at the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com.

August 17, 2017

10 Shows To See This Fall In Omaha

Anyone else think of theater when autumn rolls around? Sure, fall also means football, bonfires, and pumpkin patches, but September through November is prime time to see live shows in Omaha. We’re lucky – we have a ton of Omaha theater options, including many family-friendly ones.

Read my tips on raising a theater-goer, including judging age-appropriateness, show length, and where to go for your child’s first show!

Here are some shows I’m looking forward to that should also be on your radar. Most you can take kids to, and a few I’d recommend planning a date night.

Keep reading until the end – I’m giving away tickets to a few of the really good ones!

 

“Mamma Mia!”

When: Sept. 15 through Oct. 15

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse

Ages: Parents, use your judgement on this one. My friends at OCP recommended ages 10 and older. If you ask me, it’s great for teens.

Tickets: Adult tickets start at $32 (Wednesdays) and start at $42 (Thursdays – Sundays) and student tickets start at $20 (Wednesdays) and start at $25 (Thursdays – Sundays). Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Buy tickets early to get the best seats at the best prices. Call the OCP box office at (402) 553-0800 for current prices.

Discounts: Whatta Deal Wednesday ($10 tickets on the first Wednesday of the run (Sept. 20 only) available in person at the OCP box office starting at 4 p.m. on the day of the show; Twilight Tickets (half-price tickets when purchased in person at the OCP box office after noon on the day of the show); Lucky 7 Tickets ($7 tickets for students for opening weekend performances only (Sept. 15-17 only, good in person at the OCP box office or by phone at 402-553-0800)

 

“Madagascar: A Musical Adventure”

When: Oct. 6-22

Where: The Rose

Ages: Ages 5+. This is as kid-friendly as it gets.

Tickets: $20 through the theater

Discounts: Find discount vouchers at HyVee food stores’ customer service desks.

 

“B – The Underwater Bubble Show”

When: Oct. 7

Where: Orpheum Theater

Ages: All ages. This looks pretty spectacular and entertaining even for adults.

Tickets: Tickets start at $15 through Ticket Omaha

 

“Disney On Ice presents Dream Big”

When: Oct. 12-15

Where: CenturyLink Center

Ages: All ages, but probably most appealing to the preschool and early grade school crowd.

Tickets: $10-$85 at Ticket Master

 

Ballet Nebraska’s “Momentum: Fosse Style!”

When: Oct. 20 and Oct. 22

Where: Joslyn Art Museum (Oct. 20) and Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Oct. 22)

Ages: Ages 5+. There is a huge variety of dances presented, and most are pretty short performances, which is great for short attention spans.

Tickets: $22-$78 through Ticket Omaha 

 

Omaha Symphony’s Symphony Spooktacular Superheroes!

When: Oct. 22 (note there’s trick or treating afterward)

Where: Holland Performing Arts Center

Ages: All ages. I’ve taken my kids when they were toddlers and now that they’re grade school age, they appreciate it even more.The setting is casual, the music is familiar, and there are costumes every where. Super kid-friendly.

Tickets: $12 through Ticket Omaha

Tip: Read my review of a previous Symphony Spooktacular so you know what to expect – like how early you should arrive to enjoy pre-show activities!

 

“Van Gogh and Me”

When: Nov. 3-12

Where: The Rose

Ages: This one’s great for middle schoolers and high school students.

Tickets: $20 through the theater

Discounts: Find discount vouchers at HyVee food stores’ customer service desks.

 

Omaha Performing Arts presents “Disney’s The Little Mermaid

When: Nov. 7-12

Where: Orpheum Theater

Ages: Early grade school and older. Being a Broadway production, gauge how well your child can sit through a lengthy production (a good bet is that it will be at least two and a half hours long). 

Tickets: $35-$125 through Ticket Omaha

 

“PJ Masks Live: Time To Be A Hero”

When: Nov. 20

Where: Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St., Ralston, Neb.

Ages: All ages, but probably most appealing to the preschool and early grade school crowd.

Tickets: $25-$99 through the arena

 

“The 39 Steps”

When: Nov. 24 through Dec. 17

Where: Blue Barn Theater

Ages: Parents, use your judgement on this one. It’s probably best for teens and adults. I saw it the last time Blue Barn performed it and it was a lot of fun, but not something I’d take my kids to.

Tickets: $30 for general admission, $25 for students through the theater

 

Post-show treats: You’ve picked the show you want to attend, now start planning where you’ll go for treats afterward. Here’s a list of my favorite places to go for post-theater treats like ice cream and pastries.

 

Learn more about these venues and presenters at:

Ballet Nebraska

Blue Barn Theatre

CenturyLink Center

Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha Performing Arts

Omaha Symphony

Ralston Arena

The Rose

 

Giveaway!

Want to go to one of these shows with your family? Three families are going to win tickets to a show! Use the Rafflecopter entry form for your chance to win a four-pack of tickets to one of the following awesome fall shows: Four (4) tickets to Omaha Symphony’s Symphony Spooktacular Superheroes!; four (4) tickets to winner’s choice of a show at The Rose, either “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” or “Van Gogh and Me”; or four (4) tickets to Ballet Nebraska’s “Momentum: Fosse Style!” Giveaway ends Sunday, Sept. 3, at 11:59 p.m. Three winners will be randomly chosen within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway, and will be contacted via email to claim their prize. Winners have 48 hours to respond to the email before another winner is chosen. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Sorry, no exchanges on the prize awarded to each winner.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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January 25, 2017

Review: Around The World In 80 Days

I had a mom-and-son date recently to the Omaha Community Playhouse to see “Around The World in 80 Days.” It was my 7-year-old’s first time seeing a production there. Fun, right?

Teri Fender as Aouda, Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek as Phileas Fogg and Ablan Roblin as Jean Passepartout in the play “Around the World in 80 Days,” on stage at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Photo by Colin Conces

Thanks to Omaha Community Playhouse for providing the review tickets in order for me to write this post!

What to expect:

– This is the live staged version of Jules Verne’s classic. A lot of language is antiquated and British terms that may be over kids’ heads.

– Lots of fun characters, all played by a small cast. My son was amused by Ben Beck and Monty Eich, in particular, who took on so many random roles throughout the around-the-world journey of Phileas Fogg (played by Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek). Granted, some reminded me a bit of

– Creative sets. The characters trek across the world by steamer, train and elephant. I think the elephant was the most creative piece of the set!

Monty Eich, Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek and Ben Beck are a lot of fun to watch in “Around the World in 80 Days.” Photo by Robertson Photography

Timing a potty break

There is an intermission, but the first half is very long. I recommend going to the bathroom before taking your seat before the show starts.

Is it kid-friendly?

A funny scene in “Around the World in 80 Days” on stage at Omaha Community Playhouse through Feb. 12. Photo by Robertson Photography

Yes and no. This show is a lengthy theatrical production – 2 and 1/2 hours with intermission. It’s appropriate for the seasoned theater-going child who is used to a lot of dialogue. I would not consider bringing both kids to this; my 7-year-old has been going to shows for years and I knew he’d be fine sitting through it. I just didn’t know if he’d be interested). He was! There was a lot of humor in the show that made my son laugh aloud, even louder than some of the older folks there. The running gag about the detective’s fake name (“It’s Detect…Um Ah Figs”) was comedic gold to him.

It is not children’s theater, that’s for sure. The audience was majority adults, with me being on the younger side of the crowd.

Is it grownup-friendly?

I thought it was a clever production. Director Carl Beck did a great job encouraging the cast to infuse humor into situations that could easily have been done dryly. Even though I knew how it would end, I was still right there engaged to the very end rooting for Fogg.

What was it about again?

“Around the World in 80 Days” is a fantastic journey filled with exotic locations and cultures, with comedy and suspense leading the way. Englishman Phileas Fogg and his French manservant, Passepartout, create a strange pairing with their distinct cultural backgrounds. The two men travel around the world in an unprecedented 80 days to win a simple wager, but they leave an incredible story about loyalty and friendship in their wake. This production consists of five extremely resourceful actors who bring Jules Verne’s incredible story to life.

If you want to go

“Around the World in 80 Days”

When: Through Feb. 12; performances are Wednesdays through Sundays

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

Cost: Tickets are $36 for adults and $22 for students (Thursdays – Sundays) and $28 for adults and $18 for students (Wednesdays). A limited number of tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office (cash or check only). Discounted tickets are available for Wednesday performances only at $28 for adults and $18 for students. Purchase online here.

 

January 2, 2017

17 Family Events To Look Forward in 2017

2017 is going to be an awesome year for Omaha families. This list of family events will get you through summer (check back for the fall and winter edition later!).

Here are some exciting things to look forward to:

2017 family events

Performing Arts

Whether it’s theatrical, musical or on ice, there are several Omaha venues with some great family shows in the first half of the year. Here are the highlights:

– Broadway touring production of “The Sound of Music,” Jan. 24-29, at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater

– “Disney on Ice: Worlds of Enchantment,” March 16-19, at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Kim’s note: Previously, the ice show was “Ice Age,” but that is no longer on the arena’s calendar) 

– Omaha Symphony presents “The Music of Star Wars,” May 6, Holland Performing Arts Center

– “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” May 26 through June 25, at Omaha Community Playhouse

– “Peter Pan,” June 2-18, at The Rose

 

Museums & Cultural Attractions

This is a broad category since it’s hard to fit botanical gardens with an arena, but I’ll try. Here are the highlights of some events happening at Omaha museums and other cultural attractions:

– “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO® Bricks,” Jan. 14 through May 15, at Lauritzen Gardens

– FEI World Cup™ Jumping & FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals, March 29 through April 1, at the CenturyLink Center

– “Top Secret License to Spy,” May 20 through Sept. 17, at The Durham Museum

– “Dinosaur Safari,” May 27 through Sept. 3, at Omaha Children’s Museum

 

Road Trip!

Feel like hitting the road for an overnight in another city? Here are some destination events to consider with for the family:

– “A Year With Frog and Toad,” Jan. 14, at Des Moines Civic Center in Iowa

– “Annie,” March 30, at  the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa

– “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” April 4-9,  at The Temple Theater in Des Moines, Iowa

– New rides Mustang Runner and Falcon’s Flight unveiled, April 14, at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.

– “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical,” May 31 through June 3, at Lied Center in Lincoln, Neb.

– “Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude” June 20 through Aug. 5 at The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.

– “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” In Concert June 21-24 at Kauffman Center in Kansas City, Mo.

– Nebraska State Fair, Aug. 25 through Sept. 4, at the State Fairgrounds in Grand Island (if your kids loved “Pirates and Mermaids: Voyage to Creature Cove” at Omaha Children’s Museum, they can see the sea creatures at the fair)

Your turn! What events are you looking forward to in Omaha & beyond?

June 21, 2016

The Apollon Art Space In Omaha

Omaha’s vibrant performing arts scene has just about every kind of theater I could hope for: We’ve got the classics, the traditional musicals, contemporary theater, improv, and interactive dinner theater.

It’s the last one I’m going to write about. Well. Not really. Come to think of it, it’s a bit improv, and definitely contemporary, and there was some song and dance…

Apollon Art Space logo

The Apollon Art Space is a little bit of everything, but most of all, it’s collaborative.

I was invited to attend a performance of the theater’s latest show, “A Very Important Date: The Untold Story of the White Rabbit.” I was encouraged to bring the kids along. I’m so glad I did.

 

Dweedle Dee and Dweedle Dum were Mooch's clear favorites from the performance we attended at The Apollon in Omaha.

Dweedle Dee and Dweedle Dum were Mooch’s clear favorites from the performance we attended at The Apollon in Omaha.

They’ve become No. 1 fans of the place!

What to expect

The Apollon Art Space is more than theater, and it’s not quite like anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s space for arts (I hope you deduced that from the name).

It’s based on three elements: “The performer, the witness, and the shared experience between them.”

Here’s where it gets fun for kids.

Their shows are interactive. You may influence the outcome of the show. You may be in the show.

Farley chatting with the hare before the show began. Or had it already begun when we arrived?

Farley chatting with the hare before the show began. Or had it already begun when we arrived?

This shared experience is everything for kids. And adults. For those of us not brave enough to step foot on a stage, it’s exciting to interact with the actors at The Apollon.

Our show was general admission, and rather than rows of seats, we sat at tables. You’ll meet some new people when you attend a show. Your experience becomes theirs.

My children’s enthusiastic reaction to a character or recoil from an oddly colored food was shared with the whole table. I’m fairly sure they found my kids entertaining.

The look says it all: This is not cake but a chicken salad sandwich?! The Apollon likes to play with food during a show.

The look says it all: “This is not cake but a chicken salad sandwich?? Why, Mommy, why?” The Apollon likes to play with food during a show.

I hope.

Not all shows are suitable for all ages, so before buying a ticket for your whole crew, double check. This Alice show, though, is great for kids. My kids are 4 and 6 and enjoyed every minute of it (except for the sandwiches that looked like cakes and were not at all like cake).

My daughter has been pretending to be Dweedle Dee for four days now. So I guess you could say she liked it.

The food

Meals are themed off the performance. They’re included with your ticket.

Since the show we attended was a riff off Alice and Wonderland, our food was wonderfully bizarre.

Vertical salad with bright blue ranch dressing kicked off our "Alice in Wonderland" fanciful themed dinner.

Vertical salad with bright blue ranch dressing kicked off our “Alice in Wonderland” fanciful themed dinner.

We had four courses for our meal, ending with a birthday cake. It was a birthday party, after all.

Drinks were extra. I had to order one of the specialty cocktails, just because.

You try going to a dinner show alone with your kids. You'd order a Mad Hatter, too.

You try going to a dinner show alone with your kids. You’d order a Mad Hatter, too.

The prices were pretty reasonable – $3 for a glass of wine? Bottoms up!

The space

The Apollon is along a charming stretch of Vinton Street in downtown Omaha.  The space itself is small and not set up like a typical theater. It’s a space for many uses.

A lot of the art on the walls not only served as a set for the show – it doubled as a gallery space. We, the audience, were asked to create some art for the wall during the show. However, working artists also have some work on the walls that could be purchased.

Besides interactive theater, the space hosts improv shows, Drink and Draw nights, and there’s a little art supply store. We bought some coloring books after the show from the store, and the kids were happy to use them to collect autographs from the cast. They also host free art classes occasionally, which you can keep tabs on here.

What’s coming up

Very Important Date Apollon

“A Very Important Date: The Untold Story of the White Rabbit” – Runs through July 2.

Big Canvas Improv at The Apollon – July 15, 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.

 

If you go

The Apollon

Where: 1801 Vinton St.

Parking: Park on the street, and if you can’t find a spot, there’s overflow parking at the Supermercado Nuestra Familia, 1826 Vinton St.

Website