Edmonds Kind of Play: Local options for ‘all the kids who sing in the rain’

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This years Oscar’s telecast will likely always be known for the gaffe that saw “La La Land” accidentally named Best Picture before the golden statue made it to its rightful owners, the producers of “Moonlight.” Before the mega mix up, a lot of other memorable stuff transpired: We saw different marginalized groups recognized for their work and inclusive language used, the host tweeted at the president and brought unsuspecting tour bus members to meet the A-listers in the front row, and the “awwwww” heard ‘round the world, when Benj Pasek mentioned his mother.

“City of Stars” from “La La Land” won the Oscar for Best Original Song, bringing Justin Hurwitz and Justin Paul, along with Pasek, up to the stage. Pasek got to the mic last, and made quick work of getting his part of the speech out. While admittedly “freaking out,” Pasek said, “I want to thank my mom, who is amazing and my date tonight… She let me quit the JCC soccer league to be in a school musical, so this is dedicated to all the kids who sing in the rain and all the moms who let them.” Pasek, squeezing in his portion of the acceptance speech over the “you’re time is up” music, capped it off with an “I love you, Mom!”

Being acknowledged for doing something right as a parent on an international stage (the Academy says the show airs in over 200 countries) sounds intoxicating. So too must be knowing you’ve truly heard your kid when they’ve told you or showed you somehow, ’cause we all know it’s rarely cut and dried, who those drama kids are.

While sports and drama still co-mingle for us, drama has been an invaluable addition. From the value of individuality, to the inclusive nature we’ve felt from some drama instructors and the fact that since at this stage there is no score or rating (there is no “perfect”), it’s been a nice environment for my son, who has a tricky time navigating academics due to a learning disability. It all started with an “Elephant and Piggie” play at Seattle Children’s Theatre. And since we have so many options in Edmonds and nearby to see shows and participate in drama programs, I thought I’d list those options for the little ones who “sing in the rain.”

“Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka” will be presented by The Madrona Children’s Theatre March 10th through the 13th. MCT invites you to celebrate their 25th anniversary with one of the many shows put on by two casts at Mountlake Terrace High School, 21801 44th Ave. W. I spoke with parent volunteer and co-producer Julie Nuno, who let me know that two of the six shows would be ASL interpreted: March 10 at 7 p.m. and the 12:30 p.m. showing on Sunday, March 12. The show, which is a “full scale musical” with a live orchestra, is directed by Dorothy Pierce, who you may know from The Driftwood Players.

Mark Press is the music director again this year and Nuno told me that 25 years ago, Press co-founded The Madrona Children’s Theater. Much like the story behind Edmonds Comedy Night, MCT events have that amazing feel of a well-oiled machine of parents and students alike. Each student who tries out gets to participate and they can do so from the play to the stage crew to the orchestra. Tickets for “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka” are available online through March 7th and after that, the remaining tickets will be sold at the door. You can find more information on their Facebook event page HERE or you can buy your tickets — $5 for youth and $10 for adults — until March 7, at MadronaTickets.BrownPaperTickets.com.

Edmonds Elementary will present “A Rockin’ Midsummer Night’s Dream” on March 24-25 in the Edmonds-Woodway High School theater 7600 212th St. S.W. “A Rockin’ Midsummer Night’s Dream,” another collaboration by Dandylyon Drama and Edmonds Elementary, is Shakespeare meets a kid-friendly Grease, featuring doo-wap music and students from kindergarten through 6th grade. Tickets for both shows, March 24 at 7 p.m. and the 25th at 4 p.m., will be made available starting March 15.

Dandylyon Drama not only helps schools with their productions, but they also offer camps! This summer they will be offering three different week-long camps at Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds in July. For more information, visit DandylyonDrama.org.

Edmonds Parks and Recreation has been offering “Drama Kids” for a while now which, coupled with a thumbs-up from office manager Debbie, is a sign that this is a great program. This class promises to “Build confidence, creative thinking and language skills through fun, fast-paced drama exercises including improvisation, mini-scripts, theater games and more.” This sounds like a great option for those whose schools don’t offer a drama program or who are looking for a lower time commitment as the next session is 12 weeks long (March 15 through June 7) and ends with a spring play on the last day of class. Classes are held on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and can be found on RecZone.org by searching “Drama Kids.”

The city also has a summer offering with “Acting Camp: Monty Python Toupee Towers.” This camp runs for two weeks, Aug. 14-25, and offers “two fun-filled weeks of exploring theater games, costumes, stage combat, British humor and just plain silliness.” There will be an outdoor performance on the last day of camp, I’m assuming under the new Frances Anderson Center band shell. This too can be found on RecZone.org; you can search using the keywords “acting camp.” If you have questions, you can also call Edmonds Parks and Recreation and talk to Debbie at 425-771-0230; she knows all the answers.

The Edmonds Center for the Arts is, as one would guess, a great destination for plays and shows of all kinds, but they also offer camps of the same caliber. Two of their three camp options are acting related. First, the week of July 10, kids ages 11 to 15 can take “Much Ado About Nothing: Improv, Combat, & Acting Camp” with Seattle Shakespeare Company. According to ECA info: “Students will dive into one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, reading scenes, honing their acting skills, and learning improv games. They will also practice stage combat to bring the duels of this company to life!” There will be an end-of-camp showcase so that kids can show off their stage fighting skills to family and friends.

The week of July 17, ECA offers a camp both of my boys did last year, “Investigate, Adapt, Act!” with Book-It Repertory Theatre, available for kids ages 7 to 11. All of the nice things I had to say about this camp last year proved true again when my youngest did their acting workshop at Kidstock! this year. They are a truly understanding group of teachers with fun games and options for every kind of kid. Campers bring a book to life in a “fun, physical” way and of course, this camp will end with a performance for family and friends. You can click HERE for more information on both camps and their “Rockin’ Rhythms Marimba Camp” as well.

“Pirates of Penzance” comes to the Edmonds Center for the Arts March 11. (Photo courtesy ECA)

I reached out to Gillian Jones, director of programming for ECA, to ask her about camps and to make sure that their March 11 presentation of “Pirates of Penzance” was appropriate for families. First, Jones told me that while the show is family-friendly, it has a 2-hour-and-35-minute run time, including one 15-minute intermission. So while this “high energy” show could be enjoyed at any age, it will depend on how long those in your family can sit! Jones added that while she couldn’t share details yet, there would be a brand-new camp offering this summer. A “very excited” Jones promised to pass on the info when it’s ready! You can get tickets for Pirates of Penzance by calling the ECA box office, 425-275-9595, or by clicking HERE.

As for “La La Land” actor Benj Pasek’s mother, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, she does have a bit of a leg up on the rest of us eeking out our best crack at parenting. She’s a developmental psychologist who has co-authored numerous books including “Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells us About Raising Successful Children” and “Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less.” I’m deep enough into parenting to know this kind of “good job, Mom” will likely not come in such a straightforward manner. Having said all that… I have a hold on both of those books at the library.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ” just eat the mac n cheese” @jen_marx.

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