Istar is swimming away!

Istar has called the Museum & Theatre home since January, but she’s ready to swim away to make room for our next exhibit, Smart Art. This weekend is the last time Istar will be lowered so you can go inside her and learn about humpback whales. On Saturday, May 1 we’ll be having Whale Time at 10:30am and 2pm. If you’d like to say goodbye to Istar on Sunday, May 2, call the front desk for specific times.

Our visitors couldn’t get enough of Whale Time!

Member families will be the last ones to enjoy What About Whales during Members’ Monday on May 3. The exhibit will be closed starting Tuesday, May 4.

We’ll miss Istar, but we’re really excited about Smart Art—a truly interactive exhibit where you can make robots dance, help a plant to grow and more! You can read more about Smart Art in our latest Kitetails newsletter.

Summer Camps Update

Last call for early bird registration. Register for Summer Camp by May 1st to receive half off a second camp of equal or lesser value. Now’s the time to plan for great summer fun at an amazing price! Here is a sampling of what we are offering this summer. Visit our website for the complete list.

In our July 12-30 The Play’s the Thing! Camp for ages 8-10, children will enjoy a three week theatrical immersion with ourTheatre’s Artistic Director Reba Short, becoming supporting cast members for Pinocchio!

In our July 26-30 Around the World camp for ages 4-5, children will have the opportunity to create a passport to the continents, experiencing cultures across the globe through cooking, crafts, stories, and visits by special guests.

In our August 9-13 Creative Kids camp for ages 4-5, children can express their imaginative side using a variety of techniques with our art educator Louisa Donelson. This crazy art camp was the first to fill last year!

Museum & Theatre campers get to explore and discover!

In our August 23-27 Amazing Animal Journeys camp for ages 4-5, led by Hannah Wilhelm our science educator, children will explore the planet through the eyes of many wild creatures who use migration to journey as a way of life. This camp is for animal lovers!

Our Museum & Theatre educators have many wonderful activities and adventures in the works and are anticipating an incredible summer here! Click here to sign up before the early bird special ends!

Taking it Home: Star Gazing!

For our regular visitors, everyone knows we offer some pretty unparalleled views of the night sky from the inside of our space shuttle. While a few toddlers are still afraid of the dark, most members of the audience emit some serious “oohs” and “aahs” when the “sun” goes down and the stars go up. The great thing about the stars is that you don’t need a planetarium to observe them – just a comfy place to sit and a clear night! Mainers are lucky because even in Portland there is very little light pollution to keep us from seeing those constellations. And since the temperatures are getting warmer, why not instate monthly stargazing night with your family?

Inside "Star Lab," our traveling star show!

Collect some blankets or sleeping bags and a pillow or two. You’ll all be happier if you’re comfy and cozy – particularly on chilly nights. If you can, plan on a night with a new moon (the next one is coming up on May 14th). When the moon is full and bright, it can make it harder to see the stars around it. You can bring a thermos of hot chocolate if you like – binoculars also can be fun to get a closer look at different star clusters.

Some cool things to look for:

The Big Dipper: also known as Ursa Major or “Big Bear,” this is a well-known constellation that’s easy to spot. Once you find the Big Dipper, connect the two stars in the front of the scoop with a straight line: the first star you hit is Polaris, or the North Star. That’s the only star in the night sky that never changes its position!

Orion: another one that’s easier to find because of the trademark three-star “belt.” Orion is easiest to see from October through March, but we can still spot him right now. Once you find the belt, locate the two stars in his shoulders and two stars in his feet. His right shoulder (your left, his right!) is a red star, called “Beteljeuse.” The one in his left foot is called “Rigel” and is blue. Ask your child which one is hotter. The answer is Rigel – even though we think of red as being a “hot” color, the blue star is younger and therefore has more gas to burn. A four-year-old visitor once asked me if “that was like a little kid being younger and having a lot more energy to burn than a grownup?” Yeah, it is kinda like that!

Sirius: to the left of Orion’s feet you’ll see a really bright star. This is part of Canis Major, or the Dog constellation. It’s the brightest star that we can see in the whole night sky!

There are hundreds upon hundreds of constellations you can find with your little one. Recommended reading? Stars of the First People, by Dorcas S. Miller, for some riveting Native American myths and constellations. Happy star searching!

Interview with “Rabbit” Cast Members

I asked some key questions to 3 very interesting young actors in The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings, Bianca Brown, Erica Glidden and Alysha Alling.

Here’s what the girls had to say:
1.  Why do you do theatre at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine?
BIANCA: Because of all the nice people, and the fun shows that we put on.
ERICA: Ever since I saw my sister in shows I thought it would be really fun, and it is!
ALYSHA: I do theatre at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, because I have friends who do it with me, it’s pretty close to my house, and it’s just a BIG BUCKET OF FUN! Haha!

Bianca Brown is 16 years old. Bianca is playing Mrs. Skunk. This is Bianca’s fifth show with us; she’s also a puppeteer for our Kids on the Block puppet show.

2.  Who in the cast do you admire, why?

BIANCA: Caroline (Duck #2), because I have noticed that she has made the most progress throughout the rehearsal process, and she is really nice to everyone.
ERICA: I personally admire Michela (Little Rabbit) because she is a really great actor and makes everything fun. Also she seems like she is always living life to its fullest.
ALYSHA: I’d have to say I admire Bianca the most, because she always comes to rehearsal happy, even if she is sick with a sore throat (like she was this week). Also because when we’re backstage and some people are talking she’s not afraid to go up to them and tell them to stop.

3.  What makes The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings special?

BIANCA: The story, it has a good message for kids.
ERICA: I think The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings is a good way to tell people to love themselves.
ALYSHA: I think what makes The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings a special play is how we all work together. Also how we complement each other while acting, like how me and Michaela (Little Rabbit) make each other’s scenes better with our animal actions/moves.

Erica Glidden is 9 years old. Erica is playing Duck #3. This is Erica’s first show with us.

4.  What was your favorite moment in the rehearsal process?

BIANCA: Being told to talk in a southern accent.
ERICA: I liked all the games like gesture circle and freeze.
ALYSHA: This is a tough one… I guess my favorite moment in the rehearsal process was watching all of our characters develop.

5.  What’s your favorite moment in the play?

BIANCA: Sheena’s song. It’s so cute.
ERICA: My favorite part is when Mama Rabbit doesn’t know who Little Rabbit is because it is a really big part in the story.
ALYSHA: My favorite moment in the play is when me and Bianca have our first scene together and we act like spies! It’s REALLY fun!

Alysha Alling is 12 years old. Alysha is playing Mr. Squirrel. This is Alysha’s seventh show with us.

6.  What do you want the audience to leave the theatre thinking about / take away with them?

BIANCA: That they should be who they are, not any one else. Also, that skunks are nice animals, and don’t always spray people.
ERICA: That you should just be yourself.
ALYSHA: I want the audience to leave thinking… “That was a great play!” or “What a good life lesson for my kids!” Or just thinking they wanna come for the next play.

Come see Bianca, Erica, Alysha, and the rest of the cast perform in the final weekend of The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings! Click here to buy tickets!

Auditions for our next play, Pinocchio, are on June 5 from 10am-12pm. If you want to have fun, make new friends and learn a lot about theatre, visit our website for more information on how to prepare for the audition!

Introducing…Theatre Camps!

Summertime is coming up, and I am really excited that our theatre is going to stay alive and active all summer long!

A lot of theatres go black in the summertime and don’t offer any productions for audiences or opportunities for actors.  Not us!  Summertime is maybe our busiest time at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine and I’m hoping to get a lot of kids involved in the production and see our biggest audiences yet! Fresh air, warm weather – it’s a great time to see a play!

The cast of The Emperor's New Clothes share a hilarious moment on stage. Theatre is a great way to make new friends and memories!

We’re taking on Pinocchio!  This is a play I’ve always wanted to direct.  It’s full of really interesting and magical characters. We have to make a puppet come to life, a nose grow onstage, boys transform into donkeys, and of course, stage a dramatic scene inside the belly of a giant ocean creature!  All that will be easy—I see the real challenge for the director to be involving the audience in each of Pinocchio’s decisions.  I see this as a play about learning right from wrong, and that when we make bad choices we must face the consequences.  Pinocchio has the courage to face his mistakes, which is what makes him human in the end of the story.

If you’re between the ages of 4 and 10 and you’d like to be part of the Pinocchio, no need to audition! Just sign up for a theatre summer camp! All the theatre summer camps we offer in July will have an opportunity to be part of the show.  Four and five year olds can sign up for either the Magical Myths or Under the Deep Blue Sea and be a special guest star in the show!  Six to eight year olds can sign up for Puppets and More, and make a puppet to be part of Stromboli’s Carnival!  Eight to ten year olds in the three week intensive camp The Play’s the Thing will take on the ensemble roles in the show.

On June 5, we’ll hold auditions for Pinocchio for a few older actors to play key parts in the play (ages ten and up).  I love seeing older actors mentor and act as role models for younger actors.  The older actors who audition will be helpers with the summer camps, and will act as mentors to the younger members of the ensemble.  If you’d like to play a principal part in Pinocchio, and you think you’d enjoy being a leader for younger children, you should definitely come in and audition!

Rehearsal for The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings. Rehearsals are fun and exciting opportunities to be creative and explore all aspects of theatre!

Pinocchio will run for two weekends starting July 22 and running through August 1, Thursday through Sunday. All performances are at 4:00pm in the Dress Up Theatre.

But wait – summer’s not over yet! August is for Improvisation! Improvisation is the practice of acting spontaneously, in the moment.  This is a key concept for all young actors as they develop their acting toolkit!  In the That’s Comedy camp for ages eight to ten, we will be learning new games everyday to develop our skills as improvisers, and playing them in front of an audience everyday!

I have a busy summer ahead of me, full of puppets, stage lights and wacky off the cuff scenes… I can’t wait to get started!

Don’t forget! The Buy One, Get One Half Off early bird special ends May 1! This is the last week to take advantage of this great offer. Click here for more information and to register for any of our theatre, science or cultural camps!

Earth Day Fun!

The Earth Day Puppet Parade (with animal puppets and wacky instruments) marched through the whole Museum... Yesterday was a lively day here at the Museum & Theatre, with the premiere performance of The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings AND a major Earth Day celebration! I couldn't resist dropping in on the Ranger Station to join the fun and snap a few photos.Sadly, my camera's rechargeable batteries were on their last legs, so I only got a few photos before they were kaput. But don't worry - in honor of Earth Day (and generally trying to be a responsible recycler) I'll be sure to dispose of the batteries safely! I found this really neat website, www.earth911.org, where you can use their search engine to find a place to recycle anything. Why not celebrate Earth Day all year long and check them out?...and right out the front door! (Don't worry, they came back!)

Play Around Portland!

I’ve never appreciated spring as much as I do now that I’ve moved to Portland from Maryland. It’s great being in Portland because even in the midst of a city, you can find havens of green, beach or outdoor fun! Every time there is a sunny day in Portland (and I’m not at the Museum & Theatre) I love to walk down to the Eastern Promenade and sit by the water. There is an excellent playground and lots of space for your family to explore and play games. It’s the perfect place for a picnic and it’s very pet friendly!

Eastern Promenade Park- complete with seagulls!

If you’re looking for some reading material to bring to the picnic or want to catch up on your reading during April vacation week, check out the newly renovated Portland Public Library! Check out their website to learn how to get a library card, or you can take an afternoon to browse the stacks and find a quiet place to read. The children’s library is pretty awesome and there are a lot of librarians and employees who go out of their way to help you find what you need!

Another fun family idea is to catch a Portland Sea Dogs baseball game! The Sea Dogs are Portland’s own Double-A minor league baseball team. The stadium is right in the heart of Portland (271 Park Avenue) and you can park at the Maine Medical Center lot located at 995 Congress St. (except during noon weekday games). Tickets are under $10 and coming from a family of baseball lovers (go Orioles!) I know that baseball games are always so much fun, especially when hot dogs and popcorn are involved!

Ocean Gateway Visitor's Center

One more tip for travelers. If you are like me and are prone to getting lost (even if you’re 5 minutes from home!), look for the Visitors Center at 14 Ocean Gateway Pier. It’s the giant building with the clock tower! You can find brochures, maps and lots of friendly, helpful faces.

On a sunny or rainy day, the Museum & Theatre is a great place to bring your family! When the weather is nice you can play outside in our Shipyard, pretending to sail the seven seas. Or if it’s an indoor day, there are many things to do including daily programming, exploring our exhibits and seeing our spring play The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings, running April 22 – May 2!

Meet the Kids on the Block!

Renaldo, Brenda and Melody are just three of our Kids on the Block!

Hi everyone! Do you know what Mandy, Renaldo, Mark, Brenda, and Melody all have in common? They are our new Kids on the Block life size puppets and each one has a unique disability that they have come to understand and that they have learned to live with. Each puppet has his or her own story to share and when they get together with their puppeteers and put on a show, they dazzle the crowds with their humor, wit and adorable faces. Since November, we’ve been putting on Kids on the Block shows for our visitors free of charge and the response has been phenomenal. Funded by Unum and Sam L. Cohen Foundation we are delighted to be able to implement this wonderful disability awareness program and educate our audiences with both useful and heartfelt information. Check out our next Kitetails for another round of Kids on the Block performances, here at Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine or out in your community.

Click here for upcoming performances of Kids on the Block!

Sneak Peek at April Vacation Week!

Does Little Rabbit really want those red wings?

April vacation is the best time to visit the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine! Why? First of all, it’s the opening of the play The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings. The actors are geared up, the set is unbelievable, and the tickets are only $7 for members and $8 for non-members! Now that’s an amazing deal for quality children’s theatre.

VACATION TIP: Purchase your ticket in advance to guarantee a chance to see the show. Bring your child to the Museum before the performance for some time to explore and play. Try to find the rabbits hiding in the Museum! Come to the Friday show, and you can spend some time with one of our staff learning the difference between rabbits and hares.

Another reason to visit during April vacation is that the backyard will be open every sunny day! So you can promise your young friends & children a visit to the Sea Pirate Ship where they can play in the sunshine.

VACATION TIP: Pack a lunch, or swing out to one of the restaurants in our neighborhood for a meal to-go. Bring your food to the back yard for a picnic lunch. (Your admission is good all day, so you can leave and return as you please!)

Yet another great reason to visit next week is the amazing roster of programs we will be offering. For our blog-readers only we are providing SNEAK PEEK of next week’s programs. Lucky you! Some of these events may be found on our website calendar at www.kitetails.org, but others are being announced here for the first time (check out the Earth Day Celebration schedule!). So take a look at your calendars, plan out your week, and come join us for a great time!

Monday, April 19 Activities:
10:30-12 Who’s in Rabbit’s House? To register, contact Reba at reba@kitetails.org or at 828-1234 x247.
11:00 Rabbit Ears!
1:00 Kids on the Block Puppet Show!
2:00 Bunny, Bunny, Rabbit!

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Introducing…More Summer Camps!

Here in the Education office, we’re excited about our new camp offerings for this coming season. We’re going to kick off the summer series with a unique educational camp geared toward older kids called “Science Safari”. Using the creatures and critters from our Ranger Station (like our new turtles), our Tidepool Touch Tank, and our animal rehabilitator friend, David Sparks, we’ll be learning all about animal adaptations, environments and lifestyle.

"Science Safari" campers will get to know the turtles in our Ranger Station!

Our second new camp for the season is called “Around the World.” We’ll meet a variety of people from far away places, read stories that will take us there, and create some cultural crafts!

These half day camps are packed with educational activities but there’s still time for free exploration. In addition, this year we’ll provide a healthy snack.

Summer camp registrations have been rolling in and slots are filling fast. Are you on the ball with your summer planning? There are only a few weeks left of our early bird discount-that’s 50% off your 2nd camp! This is a deal siblings can take advantage of, too. Click here for more camps and to register. We hope to see your registration soon!