By Adam Gertsacov
NYC Dads Group Arts and Culture Coordinator
Summer is typically a slow time in the NYC theater world. A lot of people are away, kids are at camp, and it’s hard to bank on steady box office.
Two local theater companies buck the trend by premiering a pair of great musicals for kids this summer – Sleepover by Tada! Theatre and Wanda’s Monster by Making Books Sing.
While neither has Broadway-level production budgets, each has plenty of heart and excellent acting and singing. One features kid performers while the other has music written by children’s indie music phenom Laurie Berkner.)
SLEEPOVER by Tada! Theatre
We reviewed a Tada! production in April, and they are back with another great production that’s fun for all who attend, young and old.
Sleepover is a romp about a sleepover party run amok. Kids do all of the performing, and it’s just energizing to see young talented children on the stage singing, acting and having fun.
You can join the NYC Dads and their kids this Saturday, July 27, for the 2 p.m. show at a special discount price. The code “DADSLOVETADA” will get you 10% off your purchase. Tickets are $15 for kids, $25 for adults.
To order tickets, visit www.tadatheater.com or call 212.252.1619 ext. 5. The theater is at 15 West 28th St. between Broadway and Fifth. Reservations are recommended, as the theater seats just 100 people.
If you can’t make Saturday’s show, you can still Sleepover through August 3.
WANDA’S MONSTER by Making Books Sing
Wanda’s Monster, a delightful show based on a book by Eileen Spinelli, is about a young girl who has a monster living in her closet. Slowly, Wanda makes friends with the monster, but then it’s time for the monster to leave so she comes up with a creative solution to keep the monster in her life.
My son and I recently attended a special blogger preview this production by Making Books Sing, an independent nonprofit that brings theater productions into the schools. The acting is uniformly excellent, but kudos go out to James M. Ortiz, who plays the monster. He manages to make him cute, a little scary, and always fun to watch. Not easy in a giant monster suit — I have first hand experience! He is really a standout.
The music is by Laurie Berkner, who shot to fame performing songs like “Victor Vito” in between shows on Nick Jr. a few years back, and the show is directed by Adrienne Kapstein, who was also responsible for the movement and horse choreography on the long-running Broadway hit War Horse.
My son loved this show, and he especially loved meeting Laurie Berkner, one of his favorite musicians, afterward.
Wanda’s Monster has received great reviews, and is playing at the Vineyard’s Dimson Theatre,108 E. 15th St. at Union Square, through August 3. Tickets range from $39-$65 but receive a 25% discount with the code “TTSAVE.” To find out more or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.wandasmonster.com.
DISCLOSURE: I was given free tickets to attend and write about these productions. The free-ness of the tickets does not affect my opinion of the show. Adrienne Kapstein and I performed in the same theater at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival a million years ago. I had no idea she directed the show until I finished watching the show and looked at the program.)
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In addition to blogging at Dadapalooza and Clownlink.com, he and his wife are the founders of the Digital Family Summit, a first-of-its-kind annual conference where teens, tweens and their parents connect to learn how to live as a family in the digital world.