Smile Politely

Krannert closes Youth Series; announces next

This Saturday morning, Krannert Center will offer an intriguing alternative to cartoons: Egg, a 45 minute long, wordless but musical theatre piece about birds, friendship, courage, and flying solo. The theatre troup, Cahoots:NI (it stands for “Northern Ireland”, not “the knights who say”) will present the family-friendly work recommended for children as young as Pre-K, but I definitely heard some pre-teens endorsing it on their promo reels. The performance will feature elaborate costumes, puppets and illusions, and promises to bring the feels. 

The tickets are $5 a pop, so it will be reasonable to bring the entire family to the theatre. If you’re curious about the music, it can be downloaded from iTunes or heard on Spotify (login required). While beautiful, I think it gains a lot from the actors. Take a gander at the preview video below. 

Then keep scrolling, because Krannert has announced its 2016-17 Youth Series, programs with daytime showings and possible collaborations with area schools. Speaking of schools, “youth advocates” and educators are invited to a preview next Wednesday, May 4th, from 4-6 p.m. Refreshments, a raffle, and discounts at the Promenade gift shop will all be included with your information session. 

KRANNERT 2016-17 SEASON YOUTH SERIES (with some comments from your ed.)

The Laurie Berkner Band

Recommended for grades PreK-2

Fr Sep 16, 2016 at 10am | Tryon Festival Theatre • $5

“The undisputed queen of kindie rock” didn’t set out to be a children’s musician, but a knack for inventive, playful, well-crafted songs, and a passion for youth education landed her in the hearts of kids and parents alike (USA Today). Features on Nick Jr. and Sprout quickly had the preschool set singing out hits like Victor VitoBumblebee (Buzz Buzz)Under a Shady Tree, and Rocketship Run, as honors from Parents’ Choice and National Parenting Publications Awards rolled in and the Billboard Charts stayed lit up. Through an animated series, a popular SiriusXM segment, book publications, two Off-Broadway children’s shows, and an innovative teacher-training program, Laurie continues her work at the forefront of creating “songs that matter for children.”

(This lady had her breakthrough during my years as a dedicated children’s bookseller, and I actually looked forward to hearing her on the overhead. Also, we couldn’t keep her in stock, so parents actually offered to buy the overhead play copy. Repeatedly. — ed.)

Black Violin

Recommended for grades 3-12

Th-Fr Sep 29-30, 2016 at 10am | Tryon Festival Theatre | $5

Classically-trained violinist Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester and violist Wil “Wil B.” Baptiste first met up at their Fort Lauderdale high school before reuniting post-college to form Black Violin, a name taken from the great swing-era African-American violinist Stuff Smith’s influential album. Melding classical repertoire with a hip hop sensibility and backed live by their band featuring turntable ace DJ SPS, and drummer, Nathaniel “Nat” Stokes, this duo achieved 2005 Showtime at the Apollo legend status and have collaborated with Alicia Keys, and Wu-Tang Clan as they’ve given rise to a distinct musical voice that is at once “delicate, different and, dare it be said, funky.” (OZY Media)

(I don’t have kids, but a world where I could bring my kid to a show by a Wu-Tang collaborator seems like the best of all possible multiverses. — ed.)

Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China: Shanghai Nights

Recommended for grades K-8

We Oct 26, 2016 at 10am | Foellinger Great Hall | $5

Dazzling pageantry, gasp-inducing feats of athleticism, and spine-tingling contortions combine in a tumbling tour de force as this magnificent troupe takes to stages throughout the globe. First formed in 1959, but with a legacy dipping back thousands of years, the Shanghai Acrobats deftly impress with twirling carpets, hoop-diving, plate spinning, lasso tricks, and more in the debut tour of the thrilling new program Shanghai Nights!

(For those of you who saw Peking Dreams last year, you know you want to see it again. For those of you who didn’t see it, don’t miss out twice.It’s not an exact encore, but it will be in the same vein. — ed.)

Red Sky: Mistatim

Recommended for grades 3-6

Th Feb 9, 2017 at 10am & 12:30pm; Fr Feb 10, 2017 at 10am | Colwell Playhouse | $5

Canada’s award winning company dedicated to the performance of Indigenous arts, led by Artistic Director Sandra Laronde, presents the uplifting tale of an intercultural reconciliation. Under a prairie sky, a simple wooden fence is all that separates Calvin on his ranch and Speck on her reservation, but in many ways they are worlds apart. When they must work together to rein in the wild horse called Mistatim, Calvin and Speck must cross the divide of their own cultures to learn to communicate with each other, Mistatim, and their own families. Through dance, theatre, mask, storytelling, and music, Red Sky weaves an unforgettable story of forging the truest of friendships. 

(I don’t think I can say more than this photo, but I extraordinarily excited to write this article next year. — ed.)

Theatergroep Kwatta: Love That Dog

Recommended for grades 2-5

Tu-We Apr 4-5, 2017 at 10am & 12:30pm | Colwell Playhouse | $5

Jack hates poetry, thinking only girls write it. Every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Ms. Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments—and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns he does have something to say. Based on the beloved story by Newbery Medal-winning author Sharon Creech, Love that Dog brings Jack’s free-verse poems to the stage in an inventive production by Theatergroep Kwatta that features live action and music, realtime projections, and puppetry. Love That Dog shows how one boy finds his own voice with the help of a teacher, a writer, a pencil, some paper, and of course, a dog.

(Reading this book gave me so many feels that I will need to be extra-prepared to see people act it out. It has a beautiful resolution, don’t worry. — ed.)

Step Afrika!: selections from The Great Migration and other works

Recommended for grades 3-12

Th-Fr Apr 20-21, 2017 at 10am | Colwell Playhouse | $5

Step Afrika! returns to the Krannert Center Youth Series with an exhilarat­ing program featuring excerpts from their newest work, The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, along with a sampling of stepping tradi­tions and percussive dance styles that have elevated the company to “one of the top 10 African American Dance Companies in the US” over its 20-year history. Celebrated African-American painter Jacob Lawrence was barely in his twenties when he created his powerful 60-cardboard-panel master­piece chronicling the Great Migration of millions of African-Americans from the South to the North after World War I. Step Afrika!, the first profes­sional organization dedicated to the uniquely African-American tradition of stepping, has partnered with The Phil­lips Collection of Washington, D.C. to transform Lawrence’s groundbreaking work into a textured, interdisciplinary piece where lighting-fast claps, im­pressive footwork, percussive chants, and perfect synchronicity echo themes of locomotion, flight, struggle, and, ultimately, hope. A collaborative project of Step Afrika! and The Phillips Collection.

(I have missed their previous local performances, a mistake I will not be repeating this year. — ed.)

Compagnia TPO: Farfalle (Butterflies)

Recommended for grades PreK-2

Mo-We May 1-3, 2017 10am & 12:30pm | Colwell Playhouse | $5

The life of butterflies is a magical journey from tiny egg to wriggling larva to silvery chrysalis to fluttering, flitting maturity. The theatrical sorcerers of this whimsical Italian troupe invite exploration into a virtual, multi-sensory world where the whirring sound of wings beating is mixed with glints of sunshine and pops of digital imagery. Visitors will discover a vibrant atmosphere of ever-changing landscapes populated by farfalle friends, two dancers, and the audience itself in an enchanting trip through this astonishing realm.

Note: the maximum audience size is 100. The audience will be seated on stage, and small groups of students will be invited to enter the performance space for short periods of time. Because of the special staging of this performance, patrons will be required to remove their shoes.

(Awe. Some. I want to take off my shoes and be a kid for this. — ed.)
The Credits:
Campaign for Young Audiences Sponsors:

Phyllis and Kyle Robeson, Lead Sponsors


Susan and Michael Haney

Gertrude Brokaw McCloy Endowment

Dr. Donna Murray Tiedge and Robert Tiedge





Youth Series Programming Sponsors:

Dorothy Buzzard

Karen Grano

Brenda and Stephen Pacey

Jill and James Quisenberry

Anne and David Sharpe

Prudence and Bernard Spodek

The Susan Sargeant McDonald Endowed Fund for Youth Programming (Suzi was the founder/ developer of the Krannert Center Youth Series)

Nancy and Edward Tepper

UpClose Marketing & Printing


More Articles