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Haunted Houses

In the spirit of Halloween, this month's children's musicals tell tales of aliens, bees, creepy crawlers, dentists, et cetera! Plus: Robin Hood in the White House. logo
Kikker at The New Victory Theatre
(Photo © Serge Lightenberg)
Halloween is just around the corner, and what better way to frighten your little angels than with a cautionary tale of an ill-fated trip to the dentist! That's just one of the sagas featured in The Striking Viking Story Pirates' Cookie To All Of Us and Other Stories, which began in September for an open run.

Every year, the Arthur Seelen Theater takes works written by kids and adapts them into sketches and songs for a children's theater festival, and "The Last Tooth" is guaranteed to have young ones covering their mouths. This year's festival also includes "Giant Bugs 2," a musical sci-fi thriller about a swarm of colossal critters and crawlers. Are you afraid of the water? Seafarers young and old will rejoice in the musical "It's Raining Fish!" If your children prefer their Halloweens sweet, they might go for the silly chronicle of "The Day My Head Got Stuck in the Barstool" or a hymn-like ode to a pastry-baking school teacher titled "A Cookie for All of Us."

The Atlantic Theater Company's The Amazing Adventures Of Arthur Mac Gilligutty, or The Boy Who Learned To Shudder hits the trifecta of spookiness with ghosts, trolls, and jesters. A production by ATC's theater for young audiences branch, this musical aims to make children and adults shiver -- but mostly with laughter. It plays from September 25 through October 17 at the theater's West 20th Street home.

Nothing's scarier to many children (and adults!) than the prospect of moving to a new town, and two of this month's musicals delicately approach that topic. The first, Captain Louie, tells the story of a young boy who retreats into his imagination one Halloween night to avoid thinking about making new friends in a different neighborhood. Composer Stephen Schwartz, fresh from his Broadway success with Wicked, premieres this new family-friendly musical for two days as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival 2004; it plays October 1 and 2 at the 47th Street Theatre.

If that doesn't ease your children's worries, you can explain to them that the same thing happens to boys and girls halfway across the world. In Kikker, a new musical from the Netherlands that opens at the New Victory Theater on October 22, Max learns that there's nothing monstrous about moving to a new town. Performed by a company called Theater Terra, the play won the country's highest award -- think of it as the Dutch Tony -- for its catchy songs and inventive use of puppets. (It will be playing three blocks away from the decidedly adult-oriented puppet musical Avenue Q.) Kids can participate in a free puppetry workshop in the lobby before and after each performance.

An acclaimed jazz-puppet musical about a yellow-jacket that strays away from the hive, The Adventures of Maya the Bee (based on a German children's book of the same title) returns to The Culture Project on October 9, and it's likely to make your kids reconsider everything they thought they knew about these insects. It will also leave them with an appreciation for 20th century jazz and the power of a young girl who knows what she wants.

Two children's musicals dealing with supernatural phenomena will open in New York on October 30. Playing for two weeks at the Vital Theatre on 42nd Street, Wishing Time follows the adventures of a rock and roll genie who grants the strangest wishes to a young boy named Bobby and takes him on a voyage that includes run-ins with superheroes, a candy family, and doo-wopping business people. At the Greenwich Street Theatre in SoHo, Welcome to Tourettaville takes place in a boy's dream world, where four extraterrestrials get together to boost his self-esteem. A collaboration between June Rachelson-Ospa and her seven-year-old son, the musical was honored by the Kennedy Center and has been seen by over 10,000 schoolchildren.

As this year's Youth Onstage! Experimental Workshop, the Castillo Theatre's All Star Project offers a political allegory to raise your child's social conscience. Opening on October 29, the show puts a contemporary spin on the tale of Robin Hood with dashes of puppetry, song, and swordplay.

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