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May Plays

Cirque du Soleil returns to New York with Corteo, while elsewhere around town kid-friendly fare includes TADA's They Chose Me!, the New Victory's Brundibar, Manhattan Children's Theatre's Jack and the Beanstalk, and Vital Theatre Company's Cinderella's Mice. logo
Valentyna Pahlevanyan and Mauro Mozzani in Corteo
(Photo © Marie Reine Mattera)
The theater gods showered lots of children's shows upon us in April, and many have blossomed into productions that will carry us through the merry month of May.

The inimitable Cirque du Soleil is back with a new show, Corteo. The title, which is Italian for "cortege," can mean either a festive procession or a funeral! Fittingly, the show follows a clown who imagines his funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere; angels watch over the proceedings, and the line between heaven and earth is crossed. The show is being performed at the Blue and Yellow Grand Chapeau on Randall's Island, April 25-June 4.

Take a dash of dance, add a sprinkle of gymnastics, stir, mold into a circus-like form, and garnish with bungee cords, bay hooks, and other equipment. That's the recipe for what the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics calls "PopAction," a new form of family entertainment. Slam Show 7, playing through May 14 at the company's home in Brooklyn, pays homage to the Wright brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Harry Houdini. Likened to a state fair, it's an interactive show during which audience members munch on popcorn and wander from one event to another.

Adopted kids sing and dance about their good fortune in TADA Youth Theater's production of They Chose Me!, running through May 7. It features music by Ned Paul Ginsburg, and lyrics by Drama Desk-winner Michael Colby, both of whom collaborated on the book. And don't forget about Tony Kushner's foray into children's theater: Brundibar, through May 21 at the New Victory.

The Gotham Comedy Club has always been a home for up-and-coming comedians, including Dave Chapelle, Louis Black, and Jerry Seinfeld, but the pool of talent just got quite a bit younger: The landmark club has launched the Kids 'N Comedy series, giving young people (ages 8 to 17) from around the country the opportunity to sharpen their stand-up chops. With the exception of the grown-up emcee, Darlene Violette, the kids run the show, which plays Sundays at 2pm through May 21. Parents can call the club in advance to inquire about booking birthday parties.

That's not a tree growing in Brooklyn, it's a gigantic vine spiraling into the sky. It leads to a castle in the clouds, where a giant guards hidden treasure. If you haven't already guessed, the classic children's tale of Jack and the Beanstalk has been re-set in the beloved borough; it now depicts Jack as a would-be artist who's looking for a way to avoid working for a living. The show runs at Manhattan Children's Theatre through May 21.

Speaking of re-imagining classic stories, Vital Theatre Company's Cinderella's Mice introduces us to a character we might have missed in the original fairy tale. Spencer is a rodent who wants to attend the royal ball and is frustrated by the fact that Cinderella's fairy godmother turned him into a horse only to pull the heroine's carriage. How will he sneak into the festivities? The show runs through May 14 at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre.

If you prefer Cinderella told the old-fashioned way, there are two productions in Long Island: one at the Stage Theatre in Merrick (May 13-June 24) and the other at the Studio Theater in Lyndhurst (May 6-27). Also playing in that region is The Jungle Book, at BayWay Arts Center in East Islip (May 6 to 27). A familiar fairy tale gets whipped up like hot porridge in Theatre Three's Goldilocks - Is That You? (May 26-June 11), with the heroine as a Girl Scout who happens upon three gracious show-biz bears.

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