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Family Theater 101

The 101 Dalmatians Musical musical arrives in New York City, with family-friendly highlights also including Wide Awake Jake, Time Step, Elephant, Little is Big, Most Valuable Player, Stanley's Adventures, and 70 Million Tons. logo
Sara Gettelfinger in
The 101 Dalmatians Musical
(© Joan Marcus)
Everybody will be seeing spots over at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden when The 101 Dalmatians Musical comes to town, April 7-25. The show is a live musical version of the familiar Disney tale about London's Dearly family, their beloved Dalmatians Pongo and Mrs. Pongo, and a lot of adorable pups ... who are coveted by the treacherous Cruella de Vil, played by Sara Gettelfinger. The tour is directed by Jerry Zaks and features a score by STYX frontman Dennis DeYoung and a book by B.T. McNicholl.

Restless kids and their insomniac parents alike can relate to TADA! Theater's new show Wide Awake Jake (April 16 - May 23), the story of a boy who just can't seem to fall asleep. Fortunately for us, Jake has all kinds of interesting adventures (he meets lions, dragons, and giants, oh my!) on his journey to dreamland in this musical with a book by Alice Elliott and a score by Robby Merkin and Faye Greenberg, based on the children's book by Helen Young.

The New Victory has two shows this month. First up is Time Step (April 9-18), which evokes the bygone era of classic movie musicals. Then later in the month, the U.K.'s Dodgy Clutch and Johannesburg's Market Theatre present its production of Elephant (April 23-May 2), featuring enormous elephant puppets that are unbelievably lifelike and tender.

Beautiful shadow puppetry combines with music and dance in the Shadow Box Theatre original Little is Big (through May 9) at the Bleecker Street Theatre. Shadow Box performers create an undersea world where little fish Spinny and his buddies encounter a big bully fish and eventually come to learn a lesson about courage and friendship. The show is followed by a "Sing Out for Peace," where the audience gets to sing along with songs about tolerance, diversity, and living peacefully. Go to the Manhattan Children's Theatre to enjoy Stanley's Adventures (April 24 - May 30), a world premiere show for all ages. The Stanley in question is a very good dog who nonetheless has trouble resisting the temptation to explore beyond his boundaries.

The Dallas Children's Theater production of Most Valuable Player (April 10), plays one performance only at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and tells the inspiring true story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to break into professional major league baseball. For ages 9 and older, the play does include the use of some derogatory language in order to keep the show historically accurate, and the theater suggests parents use that as a talking point in a discussion with their children about the issue of racism.

In 70 Million Tons (April 5-28), the Looking Glass Theatre takes a farcical approach to teaching families about the importance of conservation. Featuring an angry God who is threatening to flood the world if we don't get our act together, an ozone layer (named Ozie) who convinces God to give us another chance, and an extravagant Broadway director who is trying to stage an eco-friendly production of the modern farce Not Again, Noah!, the show even invites audience members to bring items such as water bottles and cardboard boxes to be used during performances (and later recycled). Tuesday performances are followed by a talkback about how to "go green" and re-use resources.

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