Friday, April 30, 2010

Stages, Sights & Sounds - Chicago Humanities Festival

It's that time of year again - the Chicago Humanities Festival is underway, and presents its eleventh annual spring festival, Stages, Sights &
Sounds, which runs from April 29 to May 16, 2010. The festival brings families some of the best performances from around the world, including theater, music, dance, puppetry and visual arts performances that the whole family can enjoy.

Some highlights that I provided in yesterday's newsletter include:
  • France’s Vélo Théâtre performs There’s a Rabbit in the Moon
    An enchanting nocturnal tale filled with curious things, fragments of dreams, and fantastic characters. The program makes extensive use of found objects and is intended for a small audience of 70 at each performance. For children ages 4 and up.

  • Seattle’s Lelavision
    An instrument maker and a dancer, husband-and-wife team Ela Lamblin and Leah Mann create breathtaking performances that combine art, music, and dance. Physical Music combines their best material with new works developed in partnership with scientists from Emory University. Recommended for all ages.

  • Israel’s Galilee Multicultural Theatre's Sofia’s Drawings
    This performance weaves together actors,puppets, and video to tell the story of Sofia’s life, her hopes, and fears during her time in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Sofia’s Drawings recently received top honors for best play and music at the International Theatre Festival in Haifa. For children ages 8 and up.

The CHF web site has details on all of the performances, and there are MANY! There's something for everyone, so take a look at the offerings and go enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fantasy Kingdom Birthday Party

I can't believe Mia turned 2 last week! I wasn't sure what to do about a party for her - she has a handful of friends that I've met through a meetup play group we're in, and she's really the first to have a birthday in the group. So I didn't really have much firsthand knowledge about how to throw a great party for a 2 year old! More than anything, I just wanted Mia and her friends to have fun.

I've been taking Mia to Fantasy Kingdom for open play, which she loves, so we decided to do a birthday "playdate" there instead of an official "birthday party." (The only difference I think is that I just invited guests to a playdate and said that we didn't need gifts, just a fun time for Mia!)

We did a semi-private party, which meant that we had the party area for ourselves but the play area would be shared with other customers. It was a nice day outside, so there was only one other little boy who showed up. We essentially had the place to ourselves.

Fantasy Kingdom took GREAT care of us. We arrived just a bit early with our birthday cake and goodies, and I didn't have to worry about a thing. Fantasy Kingdom provided a staffer that helped us through the whole day, from setting up all of our food and goodies on the tables, to wrapping everything up for us at the end of the party. I didn't need to worry about a thing, I just had fun celebrating Mia's birthday.

And the kids had a blast.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicago bars as Kids Concert venues

I'm always looking for fun live music for Mia since she's definitely a not-so-closeted rocker chick, and this past weekend we took her to a concert at Schuba's Tavern. We saw The Verve Pipe - you most likely know one of their big hits, The Freshman - and now they have a kids album, "A Family Album." You can take a listen and see lyrics on their web site, at

This was our second kids' show at Schuba's, and we like it as a kids concert venue because I think it makes the kids really feel like they're at a rock show. Adults too. Plus you can order a Bloody Mary (well, I didn't... but it is possible!) Seating is in short supply, so most families end up sitting on the floor. Don't wear your best clothes. We loved the music - definitely not too "kiddie" sounding, which is what I like. And while Mia loves many of her kids' albums, she's also a fan of latin music, heavy rock, rap and really anything with a strong dance beat. So this was really great, and the band interacted nicely with the kids. You can find more info on the album and listen to clips and read lyrics here:

Tickets for this show were $10 for adults, which is not too bad for a kids show and certainly not so high for a pretty high profile act like this.

Schuba's has some other family shows coming up, and this seems to be the trend lately. On May 22 and 23, it's "School of Rock: The Best of Hendrix" featuring students from the School of Rock Music. On Sunday June 27, it's Human-Tim + Robot-Tim.

Other venues that have been promoting kids shows are Subterranean and Beat Kitchen. These are classic Chicago live music venues, taking advantage of their space and the huge population of kids in Chicago to provide concerts during typically "off" hours.

Some upcoming Subterranean shows include Jeanie B! and the Jelly Beans this Saturday at 3pm, and Shana Sings on May 1. Upcoming shows at Beat Kitchen include Laura Doherty at noon this Sunday and Human-Tim + Robot-Tim on April 25.

Check the web sites for full schedules and more information:

Beat Kitchen