The Vital Children's Theatre Company offers up the musical Extraordinary (McGinn Cazale Theatre, September 15-October 21), which tells the story of Lester and his imaginary friend Fred, who meet Lester's deaf cousin Hope, and all three go on a voyage to find her hearing.
Plenty of memorable children's stories have involved people with a special ability to talk to the animals. Now add Tina Talkington, the magic heroine of A Dolphin Up a Tree (DR2, beginning September 29), to the list. As the musical begins, she casts a spell on her stuffed animals, and her fox, owl, and beaver spring to life. Trouble brews when she discovers that her incantation had a slight side effect. It made her little brother transform into a giant baby. As she struggles to find out what to do, songs are sung, hi-jinx occur, and drama ensues.
While the weather's still warm, families have the opportunity to see two more theatrical events taking place in tents. The first is a concert by Dan Zanes, the children's musician who has performed with rock legends Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega, and Deborah Harry, at the South Street Seaport's festival Spiegeltent on September 22. The second, Comet in Moominland (September 28-October 14) takes place in a canopy within the Duke on 42nd Street, with the regular seating replaced with carpeting on the floor. In this intimate set, we experience a puppet show in which Moomintroll and Sniff must save their home from a fiery comet. They travel through forest, caves, and seas, and meet new friends who help them in their quests.
The Dramatist Guild's presentation of Jack Dallas NYC Musical Marathon (September 18-27) is an event that will appeal to children, their parents, and fans of folk music everywhere. In it, mountaineer and moonshiner Henry Golightly spars with lowlander and bootlegger Dallin Dolittle in the rough-and-tumble world of 1933 Tennessee. The historical drama features a recording of "Copper Duet," performed by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
For an entirely different kind of local color, Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood (45th Street Theatre, September 25-October 6) spins the famed fairy tale for some New Orleans flavor. Playing as part of the 2007 New York Musical Theatre Festival, the musical's hooded heroine strolls down the bayou en route to Grand-mere's house, when a Big Bad Gator chases the girl all the way through Mardi Gras.
Finally, greet the season goodbye with Suddenly Summer!, another NYMF selection (Julia Miles Theater, September 21-22). The tuner follows elementary school kids on their summer vacation, going to the beach, running the sand, diving into the ocean, and listening to their parents' advice to slab on plenty of sunscreen.