Disney's "The Little Mermaid" came out when I was around 16 years ago. I very clearly recall rolling my eyes in typical teenage fashion when my mother asked if I wanted to watch it. Watch a Disney movie? That was so for babies.
But I watched it anyway ... and fell in love with everything Disney. Within a few years I had amassed a collection of Disney VHS videos, videos that I still have, videos that are the reason I might be one of the two people left in Massachusetts with a couple VCRs still in my house, videos that I could not wait to show my own daughter. "The Jungle Book." "The Fox and the Hound." "Aladdin."
I have continued that collection since my daughter was born, only now my personal copies are on DVDs (though I feel like I might be one of the 10 people left in Massachusetts with a regular DVD player, as Blue Ray is all the rage, at least until something even better comes out and they try to make us think we need to buy copies of everything we already own in whatever format that ends up being). The latest in my collection is "Frozen," which I wasn't prepared to love as much as I did. It's not only the amazing music, it's the story and its message. I love that in the end, it's the love between sisters that saves the day, not a prince. Awesome!
This Saturday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m., Images Cinema, our cool local movie house in Williamstown, will show "Frozen." Images doesn't typically show Disney movies, but there is a special reason for this one: It's Williams College reunion weekend, and the movie's Oscar-winning hit song “Let it Go” was co-written by Williams alum Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Regular ticket prices apply, but lest you think it's silly to pay to see a movie you own (and I know most of the people reading this column probably DO own it), I guarantee watching it in Images with an intimate crowd sure to include children singing along will be an amazing experience. How do I know? My fellow Girl Scout leaders and I showed it to a group of 25 second-graders and listening to all of them belt out "Let it Go" together was extraordinarily cool to hear. Images is located, by the way, at 50 Spring St. in downtown Williamstown, which should be hopping this weekend with alumni.
And speaking of Disney princesses, there is, of course, Cinderella. Remember how she has nothing to wear to the ball until the fairy godmother swoops in to save the day? Mill City Productions in North Adams is debuting a show this weekend in which Cinderella has nothing to wear to the ... disco??? Yes, "Cinderalla Goes Disco" will play Fridays, June 13 and 20 at 7 p.m., Saturdays, June 14 and 21 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sundays, June 15 and 22, at 2 p.m. at the Mill City Theatre in Building 4N (next to the Visitor's Center) of the Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams.
Mill City promises this to be an interactive play that will allow children from the audience to shine on stage with the actors and is fun for the whole family. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for students/seniors and will be available at the door. For more information, visit www.millcityproductions.org.
Not sure if your child would like "Cinderella Goes Disco"? Look this weekend as my 8-year-old and I kick off a yet-to-be-named series of summer family theater reviews in which she and I will see family plays all around the Berkshires and then discuss the pros and cons for the kiddos. "Cinderella" is our first stop, and we are excited to work on this project together this summer. Beats sitting around the couch moaning "I'm borrrred" all summer!
Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Are We There Yet?: Summer on Stage
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:26PM / Thursday June 05, 2014
I promised you a column of summer family fun. First I'm going to start with theater, not only because there is so much family theater in a Berkshire summer but also because I live with a little actress who likes nothing more than being on stage.
One of our favorites is Shakespeare & Company's Rose Footprint productions, outdoor theater under the big round tent, where the audience sits in lawn chairs and the actors run around and through the audience and interact with them. This year, the production is "The Servant of Two Masters," billed on S&Co's website as "a comical blend of the Italian classic Commedia dell’arte and contemporary performance styles that tells the story of the outrageous and wily servant, Truffaldino, who secretly signs on with two masters simultaneously."
The actors are young, colorful and funny, and kids of all ages will love this show, which runs three times a week from June 25 through Aug. 23.
From July 23 through Aug. 10, Barrington Stage Company will present "Hairspray Jr." at the theater in the Berkshire Museum. Based on the film and Tony Award-winning stage musical of the same name, "Hairspray Jr." follows spunky plus-sized teen Tracy Turnblad as she pursues her dream of dancing on national television and navigates the racial tensions and stereotypes of the 1960s. Please note that children under 5 are not allowed into the theater.
Just over the border in Chatham, N.Y., the Mac-Haydn Theatre — the very cool theater in the round — will host another season of children's theater on Friday and Saturday mornings starting June 27. This year's productions are "Wilbur the Not-So-Big, Not-So-Bad Wolf," "Aladdin," "The Pied Piper" and "Rumplestiltskin." Every show we've seen in this theater has been amazing, and I highly recommend the short drive across state lines.
Back in Massachusetts, Berkshire Theatre Group presents "Seussical the Musical" at The Colonial in Pittsfield from Aug. 7-17. On its website, BTG says actors will be "flown" through the theater for the second year. I missed "Peter Pan" last summer but apparently that was such a big hit they're flying again this year. Pretty cool.
The last production I will mention is the free outdoor theater that Williamstown Theatre Festival presents every year. While I miss the colorful on-stage show the young actors used to present, I will admit that last year's production of "Dracula" was awesome. In fact, I liked it so much I read the book over the winter. (Well, by "read" I actually mean "listen to on CD" but whatever.) Anyway, this year WTF is presenting "Robin Hood" from July 16-25. The WTF website says "the Williamstown woods are magically transformed into Sherwood Forest as sought-after director Stella Powell-Jones enlivens this legendary swashbuckling adventure on the outdoor free theater stage." Magic, yes, but also buggy so don't forget the spray!
If I've missed any family theater fun, I'll catch up on it next week. For this weekend, enjoy what looks like gorgeous weather with two fishing derbies. On Saturday, June 7, the 22nd annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby takes place at the Frank Controy Pavilion at Onota Lake in Pittsfield from 6 a.m. to noon to raise money for the Jimmy Fund. Fee is $10 adults, $5 for children ages 14 and younger. On Sunday, June 8, the 20th annual Fishing Derby at Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington will be held for youth up to age 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. No fishing experience necessary. Prizes and souvenirs for all participants will be provided through generous community donations. Funds raised will support the Action Adventures Out-Of-School Financial Assistance Program.
No one should ever have to suffer the pain of losing a child.
As a parent of a child with two autoimmune diseases, I face that terror perhaps more often than most parents. But I'm sure anyone reading this column, any parent, would feel nothing short of sheer despair should something happen to their child.
That's why I cried when I heard about Harley Ogle.
I heard about the death of this Pittsfield second-grader from my mother, who used to work with Harley's grandmother. She hesitated when telling me, obviously sensitive to my own situation with my daughter. Harley died in his sleep; my daughter has type 1 diabetes, and most type 1 kids who die do so in their sleep. When she told me, my heart ached for this family. She told me how she and Harley's grandmother had become grandmas around the same time: He was born just a few months after my own daughter, and while they worked together they shared pictures and stories of their beautiful grandbabies as they grew into infants and toddlers and little kids. This year, they both entered second grade, my daughter with her health issues and Harley with some of his own.
But my daughter made it to her 8th birthday. Harley died this spring just a couple weeks before his own 8th birthday. My mother went to the wake and cried hard, both for Harley and for the fear she feels as the grandmother of my daughter. In fact, she cried so hard that Harley's grandmother came to check on HER the following week to make sure SHE was all right.
I share this story not to be have a depressing column this week. I share it to urge you to help turn Harley's death into something positive.
This Sunday, May 18, Harley will be remembered with a benefit at the Back Nine Bar & Grill, 303 Crane Ave., Pittsfield, from 3 to 10 p.m. There will be food, raffles and live music by Rev Tor, Domino Theory, B.A. Dario, Longview Gunslingers, and Chris Merenda. All proceeds will support the Pittsfield Family YMCA licensed elementary school-age programs, which Harley attended at Williams Elementary School. Attendees who provide school supply donations will receive two free raffle tickets; supplies that are needed include board games, arts and crafts, markers, scissors, UNO cards, Jenga, paper, books, sidewalk chalk, glue/glue sticks, pencils and erasers and Legos.
Tickets are $10 and are available at Nichols Package Store, Wheeler's Market in Lanesborough and at the Pittsfield Family YMCA. For more information, contact family friend Lindsay Dambrauskas at 413-212-1479.
If you want to know more about Harley and the lives he touched in his short time on Earth, visit the Facebook page set up in his honor. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy, and hug your own kids a little harder tonight.
First, the Bard's birthday is coming up, and I always remember it because it's close to mine. His is April 23, mine is April 26. Of course, his birth was 450 years ago, so he's got a few years on me. (Not that I'm telling how many!)
Second, I just signed my daughter up for a session of the Riotous Youth camp at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. She did a session last summer and loved it, and I have to admit it was pretty funny hearing a monologue from "Twelfth Night" coming out of the mouth of a 7-year-old.
Third, since said daughter has been bitten by the Shakespeare bug, she also is auditioning for the new "Shakespeare in the Park" series at Springside Park in Pittsfield this summer. If she ends up in the play it would be particularly meaningful for me, as I grew up in Pittsfield, across the street from Springside Park, and spent many happy and carefree hours frolicking in the park.
And fourth, Shakespeare is my family fun pick of the weekend. Because yes, Shakespeare and kids can and do go together.
Shakespeare & Company in Lenox is kicking off a run of its annual “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World” event at 2 p.m. this Saturday, April 5. This is a whirlwind tour through the life, times and work of the Bard that features six actors, a few props, a truck-load of historical information, popular misinformation and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. This hysterical, fast-paced presentation is designed to introduce kids and adults to Shakespeare through his stories, characters and words—with a bit of sword-fighting and clowning thrown in for good measure.
All “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World” presentations are followed by a hands-on workshop during which audience members will get their own shot at playing with scenes from "A Midsummer Nights Dream" - which incidentally is the play my daughter will learn at Riotous Youth this summer and the play being performed at Shakespeare & Company.
My husband, daughter and I went to see “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World” two years ago when my daughter was 6, and she loved it, though I think older kids get a little more out of it. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for adults, with a maximum admission fee of $30 per family (up to six people per family discount). Tickets are available the day of the presentation, or in advance from the box office at 413-637-3353 or shakespeare.org.
Shakespeare not your thing? Sorry to hear that - but Saturday morning is the first Saturday of the month, which means its Kids Workshop Day at Home Depot, meaning you can take the kids to the Pittsfield or Bennington, Vt., between 8 a.m. and noon to let them hammer away at a cool project. There are also a couple of high school musicals this weekend that should be lively enough to entertain the kids: "Grease" at Mt. Everett and "Dames at Sea" at Wahconah Regional.
And maybe, just maybe, this will be the first weekend of real spring weather ... so get out and enjoy it!
“Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time.”
Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are We There Yet?: Halloween Comes Early
By Rebecca Dravis On: 04:24PM / Thursday October 17, 2013
Who says you can't get into the spirit of Halloween two weeks early?
That's the theory behind the last 3rd Thursday celebration of the year, set for Thursday, Oct. 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Pittsfield. The theme is "Monster Mash," and the highlight for kids is the annual Greylock Children's Costume Contest and Parade, which will be held at the corner of North Street and Columbus Avenue again this year.
Greylock Federal Credit Union will be giving goodie bags to all kids in costume, who are invited to march in the parade at 6 p.m. This year, costume judging will be done by secret judges between 5 and 6 p.m. and during the parade. Fifty gift certificates to Persnickety Toys in downtown Pittsfield will be given out to kids in the most creative costumes.
Also for families, the Pittsfield Family YMCA will showcase its break dance and gymnastics students, and the Beacon Cinema will show "Beetlejuice" as part of its "Throwback Thursday" series at 7:30 p.m., with tickets only $5. All the details of 3rd Thursday can be found here.
But don't fret if you miss this event; there's more Halloween fun to be had this weekend. On Saturday, Building Blocks Early Education Center at 457 Dalton Ave. will hold a "Halloween Bash" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will include ghostly games, raffles, prizes and more, and tickets are only $5 per child. And later in the day, head north of the annual Clarksburg Elementary School "Haunted Hayride" from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $6 per adult and $4 per child; there will also be a bake sale and glow necklaces available. Rain date is Saturday, Oct. 26.
This weekend is not all about Halloween, though.
On Saturday, there is a good old-fashioned fall festival — with a twist! Bradley Farm on Route 7 in Lanesborough is hosting a festival from noon to 5 that will feature miniature horses, treasure hunt, local arts and crafts, organic produce and much more — including a Children's Treasure Hunt for ages 5 to 7 and 8 to 10 right at noon.
According to local legend, British troops staying at the farmhouse on Oct. 13, 1777, after fleeing their loss at Saratoga, put $15,000 in gold into the dutch oven overnight. It was missing in the morning and never found. Kids can bring a shovel and help search for this buried treasure. Hey, you never know! For more info, visit Bradley Farm.
And on Sunday, the Berkshire Museum will host what has become a beloved annual event: a birthday party for Wally the Dinosaur, the museum mascot and my daughter's favorite Berkshire County climbing structure. This is Wally's 16th birthday, and kids are invited to bring him a birthday card.
At the museum, which is open with free admission from noon to 5 p.m., kids can participate in hands-on art and science projects from 1 to 3 p.m. At 2 p.m., everyone will gather to sing "Happy Birthday" to Wally on the front lawn (weather permitting) then cut the birthday cake! For info visit berkshiremuseum.org.
I'm sure I will be back next week with some more Halloween fun — and a fun event that is near and dear to my heart!
Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at email@example.com.