I am very passionate about theatre and creating opportunities for children to experience the arts, and am always looking for ways to introduce the arts to my 2.5 year old, K.  However, I have also learned the hard way that it is important that the performance or event matches my daughter’s attention span and comprehension level.  It is just too easy to try to push K into things that I “think” she is ready for, only to learn that she just quite isn’t there yet.  Because of this, I was very excited to learn about a new theater group called Arts on the Horizon in Alexandria that focuses on theater classes and performances for young children– from 18 months to 6 years old!

The theater before the show- it ended up being a full house!

K and I were invited to come and see their first performance, Drumming with Dishes.  We loved it!  We also brought along a friend with a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old, and even the 18-month-old was entertained.  The length of the show was 30 minutes, and seemed to be the perfect length for the target audience (the show is geared towards children 2 – 5 years old).  

Our friend, G, and the show's actors

The show is about an adventurous toddler as she introduces her imaginary friend to a very special kitchen, where instead of food, they cook up beautiful music.  There is no talking, and the only sounds come from the “music” that the actors make with pots, pans, boxes of beans and noodles, and cooking utensils.  They are accompanied by a guitar player, who added a lot of fun and whimsy to the show.  With his guitar he built up anticipation, created excitement, added to the suspense, and played along to songs that the other actors signed- like Itsy Bitsy Spider.

The girls watching the guitarist, Billy Finn

The show does a great job of activating the audience’s imagination.  Playing in the kitchen is something that most of our kids have done many times, and it allows them a view into one child’s adventure.  It engages them in activities they see around them everyday, and gives them an opportunity to place themselves in the shoes of someone else.  

I also loved that it was non-verbal.  It really helped the children observe the reactions of the actors- from their fears, excitement, joy, and frustration- the children were able to easily see the emotions across the faces of the actors.  They also encouraged audience participation- from a little wave to bring the imaginary friend on stage to clapping or making suggestions, it kept the audience engaged in the show.

Actors Betsy Rosen and Caitlin Shea

Arts on the Horizon also has classes that are very affordable and seem like they would be a lot of fun.  The next classes begin in June and are for ages 18 months to 3 years.   In addition to the classes, there are Summer Camps for ages 3 – 5 and 5 – 7 beginning in July and August.  Contact Caitlin McAndrew CMcAndrews@ArtsOnTheHorizon.org for more information.

Definitely check out this show- it runs until June 5th, and shows are during the week and on weekends.  The performances are at Landmark Mall in Alexandria.  If you get there early, there is a play area for the kids while you wait.  

The Play Area

The Play Area

Tickets are $8 for children and adults, children under 12 months are admitted free of charge.  You can also get a Family 4-pack for $25.  Click here for tickets.  

If you go or have already been, let me know what you think!