This spring, celebrate a return to in-person performances for many local, family-friendly performing arts companies. From dance to live theater, your family is sure to find an engaging and fun show.
Over the past two years, live performances were pretty much shuttered. As every family is very well aware, living in a global pandemic meant a long list of things that had to be canceled, postponed or modified. The performing arts world and those who work in the arts and entertainment fields were especially hard hit by the wakes of every COVID-19 surge.
But, as the winter rise in coronavirus cases rose and then receded, Portland’s robust, nimble local performing-arts companies boldly worked on their spring shows, in hopes of being able to welcome back audiences. Thankfully, our community is opening up, and we can enjoy and celebrate in-person events once again.
This is great news for family enthusiasts of live performing arts. This spring brings a full bounty of exciting, family-friendly dance, theater and music to local stages. Join in and support local performing arts companies by taking your kids to one — or more — of these fun, upcoming shows.
Getting back to in-person concerts has been a dream for many kids and families. Here are some great upcoming options for seeing live music.
Everyone in the orchestra is very excited about PYP’s dynamic spring program, says Portland Youth Philharmonic Musical Director, David Hattner. “The appreciation of our musicians of what PYP does has grown during the year we were unable to meet in person,” he says.
To kick off their family series, the Portland Youth Philharmonic performed Russian Winter: Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, on March 5 at the Schnitzer. This concert included a special performance by award-winning youth pianist, 17-year-old Michael Gu.
“We are all looking forward as well to the Symphony #1 by Polina Nazaykinskaya we will perform in May,” says Hattner. And the String Ensemble Family Concert, held on May 7, at Rise Church, in Tigard is geared toward children ages 2 to 8. Families are encouraged to bring cushions to make floor seating for the “Cushion Concert” more comfortable.
Arrive early to walk through the hands-on instrument petting zoo where kids can try out violins, cellos, and other string instruments. Kids will also have the opportunity to talk to PYP musicians. Find out more here.
“Oregon Symphony’s extraordinary array of concerts this season are designed to appeal to all members of our community with programming that celebrates and explores music across genres and cultures,” says Scott Showalter, Oregon Symphony president and CEO.
The company is putting on a dynamic and varied range of family-friendly concerts this spring — so there is definitely something in the series to delight every person in your family.
Watch and listen as a beloved ’80s movie gets a full symphony accompaniment at The Princess Bride in Concert on April 2 and April 3. The hilarious, sweet, adventure-filled classic feature film The Princess Bride is shown on the big screen with Oregon Symphony performing the score. The Under the Sea Kids Concert is on April 10. This concert is a musical excursion into the watery depths and includes iconic favorite music from such classics as The Little Mermaid and Pirates of the Caribbean. Suitable for ages 5 and up. An African American Requiem, on May 7, is a world premiere concert from Portland composer Damien Geter. The show is a musical response to violence against African Americans in the United States; thought-provoking and bold, the concert can also help further conversations about racial justice with your older children. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Concert offers another unique family movie and concert-going experience. Concert dates are May 28-29. Finally, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be held June 11-13. Your family will enjoy listening to one of the most popular and powerful masterworks in the classical canon, says Showalter.
“It has been wonderful to reunite with Portland and Salem audiences and share with one another the joy of live music,” he adds. Visit orsymphony.org for information and tickets.
Take your child to experience the wonder of bodies in movement at one (or more) of these local spring dance performances.
This month, Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) will perform Dreamland at the Newmark Theatre, April 8-10. This show explores the fanciful world of dreams. It is set to Owen Belton’s ethereal, David Lynch-esque score. The eerie music is evocative of the supernatural, cinematic quality of the performance. This show is best suited for teens on up.
The Americans — Take Two runs June 3-11, also at the Newmark Theatre. This performance is the follow-up to the first installment of The Americans series (pictured above), which showcases the vibrant, inspiring work of influential American dance choreographers. The program also features an OBT first-time commission from rising star Michelle Manzanales. This performance is recommended for kids aged 8 and above. Find out more at obt.org.
Portland’s Echo Theater, which blends storytelling, aerial dance, and acrobatics, is putting on two shows this spring, under the direction of key staff, Wendy Cohen, Aaron Wheeler-Kay and Flo Buddenbaum. “Created by youth, both shows explore the nature of wonder, the thrill of science, and the importance of imagination,” says Interim Executive Director Shari Getz.
First is The Museum of Natural History, which runs from April 30-May 1. The show is performed by the company’s 10- to 15-year-old students. The performance is set in a secret museum run by goblins and explores the nature of wonder. “This show features insects, chemistry, outer space and more in a blend of fantasy and science that will delight viewers of all ages,” says Getz.
The second production is Delia Clementine’s Guide to Getting Lost, which runs from May 20-22 and features a cast of 14- to 17-year-old performers. This show tells the story of a young girl who sets out on a quest to have an adventure in the forest near her small town — and she more than finds it.
“We’re excited to begin welcoming our community to in-person presentations this spring,” says Getz. Find out more at echotheaterpdx.org.
If you are hoping to take your children to see live plays, there are lots of wonderful shows to choose from. Additionally, some companies offer live streaming options if in-person events are not right for your family.
Oregon Children’s Theatre‘s (OCT) teen company, Young Professionals, will put on Shakespeare’s classic, engaging show Twelfth Night. It’s a comedy of mistaken identity and complicated love triangles. It runs from April 29 to May 15. On OCT’s main stage, the company will perform Last Stop on Market Street at the Newmark Theatre from May 1-29. Based on the popular children’s book, this vibrant, rap-infused musical takes you on a ride with CJ and his Nana through their neighborhood on their local No. 5 bus.
As part of the 7th Vanport Mosaic Festival, Northwest Children’s Theater (NWCT), in collaboration with World Stage Theatre, is debuting Vanport the Musical. Shalanda Sims, the founder of World Stage Theatre and creator of this groundbreaking production, will co-direct with NWCT’s Artistic Director Sarah Jane Hardy. This play, which runs from May 20 to June 5, marks the happy return of performances to NWCT’s main stage.
“This show tells the story of Black people living and working in Vanport, but also the diversity of the community,” says Sims. “What excites me is this is a story that hasn’t been shared this broadly before. Finding these pieces of history, making them come alive, and educating families and communities about something that people had no idea existed here in our hometown is exciting.”
And your family can dive even deeper into Vanport’s history at the Vanport Mosaic Festival (May 20 to June 7), which boasts presentations, exhibits, screenings, and tours about the dynamic history of Vanport and its legacy. Find out more at nwcts.org.
For more local options, read our comprehensive Performing Arts Guide.
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