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After Happily Ever After

Are your kids too sophisticated for a love story this Valentine's Day? NYC has a range of offerings including a revamp of Sleeping Beauty, a musical about the South Carolina Black Regiment during the Civil War, a winter puppetry pageant, and more!

By New York City
James Loye and Lyndsey Marshal in Sleeping Beauty 
(Photo © Keith Pattison)
James Loye and Lyndsey Marshal
in Sleeping Beauty
(Photo © Keith Pattison)
Tell the truth: Your kids are too sophisticated for a love story this Valentine's Day. Everyone in town has seen your little New Yorkers -- no more than five years old -- talking on their cell phones to arrange play dates at the Met. What are you going to do? Take them to see a fairy tale? Nobody believes in "happily ever after" these days, and they're skeptical about love. This is no ordinary fear of cooties. Those savvy devils have gotten themselves vaccinated.

Luckily, the New Victory Theater will present an unsweetened version of one of my childhood favorites, Sleeping Beauty, from February 4 to 27. This new adaptation of Charles Perrault's 17th century classic takes a different view about what happened after the princess woke up from her 100-year slumber. Suddenly, she finds herself in a frightening forest, saddled with a cowardly prince and a mother-in-law that's literally an ogre. Liberally rewritten and directed by Rufus Norris, the Young Vic's mythic and macabre production, appropriate for ages 8 and up, will change everything you thought about this story.

Urban Youth Theater's Media and Me, playing from February 11 to 20, will teach your teenagers how to stay informed in today's society. Future political leaders of America would be advised to check out Castillo Theatre's production of Robin Hood: A Political Romance from February 25 to March 17. Artistic director Dan Friedman's adaptation includes puppetry, music, swordplay, and a contemporary political angle that will help your children endure another GOP administration. Young Republicans are, of course, also invited to attend -- but are advised to watch their pockets.

In celebration of Black History Month, TheatreWorks/USA will debut a world premiere musical called The Civil War: The South Carolina Black Regiment for two matinee performances on February 6. Inspired by actual events of the time, it tells the story of The First South Carolina Volunteers that consisted of former slaves fighting for their freedom. Another historically inspired musical, A Band of Angels, will tour colleges throughout the outer boroughs in February. It follows the Jubilee Singers, who escaped slavery in 1867 to form an internationally acclaimed choir. Based on Deborah Hopkinson's eponymous book, it arrives at York College in Queens from February 10 to 12 and Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn from February 14 to 18.

The Downtown Arts Center unleashes its Melting Pot Children's Series beginning this month, with such diverse shows as Little Red - Girl from the Hood, Voices on the Town - A Vaudeville Salute, and a bilingual musical based on the life of Puerto Rican poet Julio de Burgas. Sculptures by Brazilian artist Elson de Faria will be on display. A complete schedule of events can be accessed by going to the NY Artists Unlimited website.

Every year on February 2, Americans look toward Pennsylvania to discover whether or not a certain famous groundhog sees its shadow and predicts a long winter. The Groundhog Series, on the other hand, is an annual children's theater festival hosted by Brooklyn Arts Exchange in February. This year, it kicks off on February 6 with a performance piece called Spanish as a Living Language that consists of poetry, scenes, and theater games performed in both languages. Next, on February 13, there is a Winter Puppetry Pageant to showcase the designs of families that have worked for six weeks leading up to the event.

Moving away from puppetry, we have a trio of children's shows in the animal kingdom: Charlotte's Web, Cocus and Doot -- The Belly of the Beast, and Frog and His Friends. The first, of course, is a play based on E.B. White's beloved book by the same name about the friendship between a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilber; it plays at the Auditorium at Equitable from February 12 to 13. Vital Theatre Company's Cocus and Doot (February 19 - March 27) follows a troublemaking duo -- a golden-headed tamarin and arctic penguin -- that wreak havoc on the Central Park Zoo after all of the visitors leave. Finally, there's Frog and His Friends, based on a picture book by Max Velthuigs about a sad amphibian that leaves his friends when his owners move to a new place; it hops across the river to the College of Staten Island on February 19.


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