One of the best gifts a parent or grandparent can give a child is the gift of live theater.
A youngster who’s been fortunate enough to experience the thrill and excitement of a live performance in a darkened auditorium is likely to remember it for years.
For those in our area an ideal introduction to professional children’s theater is provided each year by the Victoria Theatre Association’s PNC Family Series. The top-notch touring productions are staged by some of the most outstanding children’s theatrical groups in the nation.
The big news this year is that the series is expanding — six shows are being offered with tickets available in four, five or six pack options. The series kicks off Nov. 1 and runs through May 2. Productions range from a retelling of the classic “The Velveteen Rabbit” and “Robin Hood” to “Pinkalicious the Musical” and a live concert.
Some shows are designed for kids as young as age 3, for others the suggested age group is 8 and up. In addition to each presentation, the special afternoons feature a pre-show live organ concert as well as creative family activities.
The new show times — 1 and 4 p.m — are designed to allow more time between shows for the Act-ing and Art-ing Workshops that are offered at 2:30 p.m. PNC Storytime is at 3 p.m.
Workshops are themed to each show
Kids from ages 4 to 10 can learn how to bring characters to life in 45-minute sessions the day of the show that are themed to each production. Art-ing participants create a show-themed craft. The workshops are conduced by VTA teaching artists and registration is required in advance. There’s no charge for parents, it’s $5 each for the children.
The folks at PNC Bank state-wide were honored last year with the prestigious Governor’s Award for the Arts. Locally, the bank’s arts investment in our 13-county region involves sponsorships, educational initiatives, and volunteer commitment.
A great example is the bank’s sponsorship of the Victoria’s Family Series. In addition to underwriting the children’s shows for the past four years, PNC also provides volunteers who host an interactive story time on the day of the shows. Books are selected by librarians at the Dayton Metro Library and always relate to the theme of the play.
For each performance, PNC also gives out 80 free tickets to families who are part of its “Passport to Kindergarten” program.
“We believe that investing in the arts is a long-term strategy to build stronger communities, not just from a cultural aspect, but also from the standpoint of economic development,” explains Michelle Kaye, vice president and director of Client and Community Relations for PNC.
She says each bank employee is given 40 hours of paid time-off to volunteer time to PNC’s ‘Grow Up Great Initiative,’ a bilingual, multi-year initiative that helps prepare young children for success in school and life. Some volunteers choose to read to kids on the days of the shows.
One of them is Nancy Oliver, who works in client community relations for the bank, and has been volunteering for the Victoria’s family series since 2011.
Oliver, who is from Vandalia, feels she is setting a good example for her own children by volunteering for the program.
“I try to choose books that will hold their interest,” she says, explaining that the youngsters gather around her for the half-hour sessions.
“There is no greater satisfaction than bringing a smile to a child’s face,” Oliver says. ” Knowing that I may be able to change the life of a child because I volunteered is the most rewarding feeling.”
Here’s the rundown of shows for 2014-2015:
JOHN TARTAGLIA’S IMAGINOCEAN
Nov. 1, 2014- Victoria Theatre
This black-light puppet show transports audiences to a magical undersea adventure. Tank, Bubbles and Dorsel are three best friends who just happen to be fish – and they’re about to set out on a remarkable journey of discovery! They sing, dance and make new friends.
Grades PreK-2nd, ages 4-7.
THE VELVETEEN RABBIT
Dec. 6, 2014 - Victoria Theatre
This production by Dayton’s own Zoot Theatre Company is a retelling of Margery Williams’ beloved tale that teaches all of us that love makes all things real.
Grades K-6th, ages 5 and up.
JUICE BOX JAMS with BIG BANG BOOM
Jan. 24, 2015 - Victoria Theatre
This creative take on kids’ music is a high-energy live concert with live musicians and lots of audience participation.! Wrote Parenting Magazine: ” If you like U2, then listen to BIG BANG BOOM. These former rocker dads are creating kids music you won’t be embarrassed to blast in the carpool line.”
Grades K-6th, Ages 5 and up.
PINKALICIOUS THE MUSICAL
Feb. 21, 2015 – Victoria Theatre
New York’s multi-award-winning Vital Theatre Company brings a fresh new show to town. Pinkalicious can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. With book and lyrics by the sister duo of authors Elizabeth & Victoria Kann.
Grades PreK to 3rd, ages 3-10.
DINOSAUR TRAIN LIVE! BUDDY’S BIG ADVENTURE
Mar. 28, 2015 -Victoria Theatre
This production brings the stars of the hit PBS series to Dayton for the first time. From giant King to teeny Tiny, this musical uses lush projected backgrounds and vistas, special effects, a full-sized replica of the Dinosaur Train and a live host.
Grades PreK to 1st, ages 3-6
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
May 2, 2015- Victoria Theatre
Scotland’s acclaimed theater company, Visible Fictions, has come up with its own humorous adaptation of the famous folk legend. Two actors take on multiple roles in a madcap production.
Grades 4th-10th, ages 8 and up.
How to Order Tickets for the PNC Family Series:
- Season Tickets for the PNC Family Series are on sale now at Ticket Center Stage, located in the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, by phone at 937-228-3630 or 888-228-3630 and online at www.ticketcenterstage.com
- Season Ticket Holders may choose four, five or six shows: four shows for $40/person, five for $50, or six for $60. Renewal packets for season ticket holders will mail by May 5.
- Tickets to individual shows are $15 each and will be available Aug. 12.