What comes to mind when you think of the UMASS Fine Arts Center in Amherst? Do you think of dinosaur light puppets? Peter Pan? Or a lovable wombat? Well, you should.
Because all of that and more will be part of their upcoming season of Family shows which run this October - April. I realize that, traditionally, we don't think of taking our kiddos to performances on a college campus. I mean, maybe we've attended a raucous program at the Mullins Center. But 'certainly not at the Fine Arts Center,' you're thinking. That's reserved for cultured folks who don't carry juice boxes in their purses. My kids don't belong at anything with the name "Fine Arts" in the title. But really, they do. And, you do. And you won't want to miss this.
We'd all like to expose our kids to more of the arts but there are sooo many reasons why we think it's just too difficult. Or expensive. Or inconvenient.
I know you're already thinking of all the "BUTS...":
'But...my little one might get fussy.'
These are family shows. Fussiness is expected. However, if you feel that your little one is getting too disruptive, there are large screens in the side lobby of the concert hall with a live feed of the performance so you can take your littles outside of the theater and still see the show. Strollers will fit here. There's also space here for antsy ones to run around and let off some steam. Nobody is going to mind.
'But...I have to feed them.'
Light concessions will be available in the lobby during all family show programs. If you're thinking of lunch or dinner or something more substantial than puffs for mom and dad to eat, rest assured that babyBERK (the UMASS food truck) will be on site for some performances. (Anyone who's ever enjoyed their quesadillas will agree this alone makes a visit to campus worth the drive.) There are also other dining options on campus if you'd like to arrive early and mosey around. All of the campus dining halls are open to the public.
'But...sippy cups. And bottles. We have to bring them in to the show.'
Again -- family show. It's OK to bring beverages into the theater (just no food, please). Also, there is a new refillable water bottle station in the concert hall's lobby. Everyone can stay hydrated throughout the performance!
There is plenty of FREE parking available on site for all shows. Check out the link for details.
'But...what are we going to do while we wait for the show to start? My kids will melt down.'
As part of the family performance series there will be hands-on activities in the lobby before showtime. You'll even get to add in a little sneaky learning along with a cultural performance. Win-win!
'But...diapers. I'm going to be on a college campus and I'm not running out to the car to change a stinker!'
That's right, you're not. Because there are changing stations in all bathrooms at the concert hall.
'But....I'm on a budget."
Tickets to the family shows start at only $15 depending on the performance and some youth tickets are available for only $10/child so prices are definitely family friendly.
So, there. You're fresh out of excuses! All you have to do is decide which shows are right for your fam.
The Family Series includes:
LIGHTWIRE THEATER: DINO-LIGHT
Sunday, October 20, 2 p.m.
A famous scientist with magic powers brings a friendly dinosaur to life. When the dinosaur wanders away from home, he discovers a wonderful world of creatures that light up the darkness and help him find the true meaning of love.
NATALIE MACMASTER & DONNELL LEAHY PRESENT: A CELTIC FAMILY CHRISTMAS
Wednesday, December 4, 7 p.m.
Award-winning fiddle virtuosos Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy present an intimate and unique Christmas concert. A Celtic Family Christmas welcomes the audience into the wonderful world of their family's Christmas celebration.
WE SHALL OVERCOME: A CELEBRATION OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Tuesday, January 28, 7:30 p.m.
From Nina Simone to The Wiz, Stevie Wonder to traditional spirituals, it will be an evening of music that shows the lineage of Civil Rights visionaries is still with us today.
GUGU DRUM GROUP
Tuesday, February 11, 7:30 p.m.
GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai incorporates traditional Chinese drumming techniques and movement with a contemporary twist. Their performance will include a series of "vignettes" accompanied by projections based on Chinese proverbs, fables, and fairy tales.
Tuesday, February 25, 7 p.m.
The winner of Broadway.com's Audience Choice Award for Best Musical, Finding Neverland follows the relationship between playwright J.M. Barrie and the family that inspired Peter Pan.
CIRQUE FLIP FABRIQUE: BLIZZARD
Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 p.m.
With some of the most exciting circus performers on the circuit today, FLIP Fabrique invites audiences to get lost in a moment of winter wonder.
DIARY OF A WOMBAT
Thursday, April 9, 7 p.m.,
In Diary of a Wombat, you'll meet Mothball - the naughtiest wombat in Australia. Watch as the multi award-winning picture book by Australian Children's Laureate Jackie French and Bruce Whatley is brought to live through the magic of puppetry and live music.
Tickets are on sale now for all performances. Some shows are eligible for the Family Value Pack purchase -- two adult and two child tickets for only $75.
I can't think of a better holiday gift suggestion (hint, hint). We all have enough stuff. Think experiences, instead of toys. Subscription packages are available -- purchase tickets to three or more shows and save 15%. Share this post with all the grandparents who are already asking what you want for the holidays. We'll see you at the show!
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