Save the Date! The 2016 Annual Auction is coming soon!

Join the Museum & Theatre from 6 – 10pm on May 13, 2016 at the Portland Company on Fore Street in Portland for an evening of great company, delicious food and drink, and terrific auction items! We’ll be shaking things up a bit this year and we would love to have you join us as a guest, donor, or sponsor for what we hope will be our best event yet!

This year’s theme is “Every Child is an Artist” and to celebrate, we’ll be featuring children’s art as part of our art auction. Of course we’ll also have all the fabulous live and silent auction items our guests have come to expect.

We’re also thrilled to announce that our honorary chairs for Auction 2016 are Chris and Lori Van Dusen. Chris is a nationally recognized children’s book author and illustrator who lives here in Maine with his wife Lori. His first book, Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, was the inspiration for our outdoor adventure exhibit and his book, Circus Ship, will be adapted for the stage by our own Reba Short and produced here at the Museum & Theatre in April, 2016.

Stay tuned for details on Auction 2016. Tickets ($50 per person/$450 for a block of 10) will be on sale in March, and sponsorships are available now!

For information on sponsorships, or to donate and item to the auction, contact the Development department at development@kitetails.org or (207) 828-1234 ext. 242.

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Coming this Friday to the Museum & Theatre: You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

 

Meet Charlie Brown, a self-proclaimed loser who’s never received a Valentine, never won a Little League Game, and never flown a kite. Today is a typical day in his life; from getting up in the morning and being late for school,  to seeing the cute little red haired girl at lunch but being too terrified to talk to her, and ending the day with finding happiness in the comfort of his friends.

Speaking of friends, this Peanuts Gang is just as complex as our hero! Lucy is unapologetically honest and offers advice for a price. Blanket-toting Linus is savvy and wise. Sally hops from one surprising realization to the next as if she’s jumping rope. Schroeder strives to cultivate the drive and passion of the great composers he admires. Snoopy has the power to transform worlds with his imagination. Together they’ve inspired generations of children from the original ink drawing by Charles Schultz published for the first time in 1955.

With two casts, twenty-two actors, eight songs, three theatre educators and twelve kazoos, we have thrown ourselves completely into this play since the beginning of January. Rehearsals have consisted of singing, dancing, soul searching and team building. I’m always inspired by our actor’s ability to dive into material whether it’s a light-hearted fairy-tale or a Roald Dahl comedy. In this play I was especially impressed by the shared empathy and communal knowledge of the themes. Every single one of us could relate to the ups and downs Charlie Brown experiences throughout the day, it’s what makes us human.

While Charlie Brown and his gang talk about rejection, depression and the question their existence, they also jump rope, fly kites and play baseball. In rehearsal I was constantly reminded there’s no such thing as adult problems or kid problems. We all look at the world in unique ways, we’re all deep thinkers, and we all offer a unique perspective. These songs and vignettes, in all their simplicity, remind us of the resilience inside each of us, no matter how old we are.

-Reba Short, Artistic Director

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown will be hitting the stage this Friday, February 12th and will run through February 21st. Click here to get your tickets now!

 

Introducing the Germ Avengers!

Did you know that a computer keyboard can hold up to 3,295 germs per square inch? Or that a single sneeze can send 100,000 germs into the air? This is a germy world – it’s a good thing we’ve got the Germ Avengers on the scene at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine!

One thing that all of the Germ Avengers (and the staff of the Museum & Theatre) can agree on is that washing your hands is the very best defense against germs. By washing your hands often, you make it harder to spread germs to others and you keep germs that can make you sick away from your own nose, mouth, and face. When you wash with soap, use warm water and make sure to rub your hands together with soap for at least as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”. Following these simple instructions will help to keep the Museum & Theatre germ-free!

The Museum & Theatre is excited to be partnering with Maine Medical Center to teach you and your family about the importance of hand hygiene. Look for the Germ Avengers on signs above the hand sanitizer stations located throughout the Museum & Theatre and in the restrooms. Our team of educators will also be teaching fun lessons that teach hand hygiene – look for them on our daily schedule when you come to play.
More fun facts about germs:

  • A sneeze travels about 100 miles per hour and up to 200 feet.
  • An average kitchen dishcloth can contain billions of germs.
  • Nearly 22 million days of school are lost each year in the U.S. due to the common cold.
  • Iguanas sneeze more often than most other animals.

 

Sponsored by:

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The Enormous Crocodile Puppet Show Tomorrow, Thurs. Jan. 22

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The Enormous Crocodile Puppet Show

Tomorrow, Thurs. Jan. 22 | 11:30am

Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile is a horrid greedy grumptious brute who loves to guzzle up little boys and girls. But the other animals have had enough of his cunning tricks, so they scheme to get the better of this foul fiend, once and for all!

Come see this wild live action theatre show for young audiences featuring our own Theatre Director Reba Short and local actress Allison McCall. Reba and Allison will act out the story of The Enormous Crocodile using puppets, masks, silly costumes and interaction!

This show is best for audiences 2-6 years old.

$3/member, $4/visitor plus admission. For tickets call 828-1234 x231 or stop by the front desk, or click here.

Auditions: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

01/08/2015 | 3-5pm
We’re looking for talented young actors to be part of the cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this winter. No experience required, and newcomers are welcome! Please come anytime between 3-5pm with a one minute monologue prepared. The winter production will run February 13-22. Actors must be available for rehearsal in January and February.

For more information, contact Reba Short at 828-1234 x247. Click here for more info about auditions

New exhibit provides endless possibilities for fun

Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine Director of Exhibits Chris Sullivan offers a look at the planning that has gone in to the launch of our new exhibit, “The Playscape,” opening to the public on March 14th, 2014.

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Playscape graphics package_poster tempPlanning our next exhibit, we decided early on that we wanted to celebrate the philosophy of open ended play as learning. We don’t want to direct any one particular type of play, but provide an environment that supported a variety of activities.

Our exhibit production model requires months of research before we begin design work. Because of our small staff and limited resources, in order to be successful we need to do extensive on-the-floor prototyping and develop close partnerships with local businesses who can volunteer their expertise to the project.

Last August, we started prototyping with large building blocks to see what types of activities our visitors instinctively did. After observing visitors play with the blocks for a while we started staging pre-built structures made from the blocks and found that this impacted how visitors interacted with the exhibit. From there we started testing permanent structures that visitors could build onto and climb on. The process of incorporating more and more structural components into the space led us to a decision to seek out a partner who could help us build a natural play structure. Our first choice was CedarWorks.

CedarWorks has been a consistent supporter of the Museum and Theatre for years. More importantly, they are a Maine based company who (like us) specialize in play. Their involvement has been a huge help. They have been creating play structures for many years and are intimate with all the accessibility and safety issues that come with a project of this sort. I learned a lot about playground design form working with their designer and manufacturing team.

Playscape is a playground like space for imagination and physical activity. The exhibit features both climbing structures for children ages 2-12 and blue blocks made of biodegradable foam. The climbing structures will be whimsical, natural wooden towers for kids to explore and role-play in. The blocks include a variety of sizable shapes and balls that kids can use to build their own towers. The abstract nature of the towers and blocks gives the exhibit the potential to cover an endless amount of educational topics: gross motor, engineering, tactile exploration, physics, dramatic play, and so on. Most importantly, it will be a fun, safe, and comfortable space to be in.

Many thanks to our sponsors:

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Actor-Educator Michela: Teaching and Learning with Theatre and Puppets

Guest Blogger and Veteran Actor Michela Micalizio

GUEST BLOG POSTER: MICHELA

You may recognize Michela as an actress who frequented the Dress Up Theatre stage not too long ago, playing roles like Blitzen in Santa’s Reindeer Revue, the Empress in The Emperor’s New Clothes, and Mama in Wiley and the Hairy Man. During the day, Michela is an 11th grader at Falmouth High School. When she grows up, she’d like to be a theatre educator, so when she had the opportunity to job shadow for her school, she came the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine! Here are her observations and thoughts on the experience.

DAY 1

Hello! My name is Michela Micalizio. I am a 17 year old junior at Falmouth High School and I was permitted to job shadow here at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine with the wonderful Reba Short, who might have the best job ever. She is the head honcho of the theatre, directing the shows and theatre programs in the museum. When I arrived, I sat down with Reba and three little girls to help with the Teensy Weensy acting class for ages 3-5. I knew I was going to have a good day when I saw three tiny girls eagerly and joyfully huddled around a window frame being held by Reba who was kneeling on the floor and operating a chicken puppet.

The girls’ mission was to collect food that was falling from the sky and feed it to the chicken. I was handed the chicken and accepted the mantle that comes with it. The girls would talk to the chicken like it was real; they were bubbly and enthusiastic, imaginative and creative, and silly and fun. They all varied in confidence levels, one girl was tentative and shy while another was a wild child, outgoing and loud. Yet it was clear to me that all of them felt safe enough in that theater to express their opinions and dance like goons. The chicken was a more approachable classmate, always receiving cuddles, being asked to dance, and joining in the activities on the girls’ requests.

I find that with puppets, a whole different door is opened in terms of communicating with kids. They may not actually believe it to be living, but it is something that is fascinating and relatable. Puppets are wonderful to use with children. But soon it was time to say goodbye, and Reba and I went on a floor check with marionettes: two fluffy “birddogs”. The puppets are sometimes scary to younger ones, so we had to be careful.

We only had one incident where an older brother asked to use the puppet and proceeded to chase and corner his baby brother who was reduced to tears. We had to be careful about which kids we could hand the marionettes to. But the next child we handed it to, not only did she respect the puppet and not scare anyone, but she named it, she spoke to it, and she walked with it like a friend. Mr. Red and Mr. Blue, the birddogs, went to the supermarket and another girl bought them lunch: raisins with maple syrup (the favorite food of birddogs) and bread (a LOT of bread). The marionettes Misters Red and Blue were a success.

When Reba made an announcement for a star show and only one kid and her dad showed up, she put on a show just for them. The kid never said a word, and was still as attentive and enchanted as anyone else, for she sat still and listened to the stories behind the Chinese constellations. Well, I am very excited about the next two days I will be here, see you tomorrow!

Michela as Mama in "Wiley and the Hairy Man," 2012

Michela as Mama in “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” 2012

DAY 2

Hey there! Michela Micalizio here again at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine. The second day of my job shadow began with a design meeting, planning out the set and lighting for Rumpelstiltskin. This is going to be a wicked cool show, let me just say. During the planning, kids would wander in and they would not be shooed away by us, we were in the children’s country, they have domain in their museum. Kids are free to explore anywhere and if we intrude, we are in the way of their leaping and spinning. When Reba and I performed her puppet show “What Does the Fox Say?” kids were laughing, interacting, and enjoying themselves. But as soon as we were done, we had to quickly get out of there because the kids were so eager to put on their own puppet show. It is bewildering and encouraging to see all these kids get so excited about the arts, theater and creating things for themselves. Tonight I get to sit in for a rehearsal of Rumpelstiltskin. That’ll be so fun! I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. Take care!

DAY 3

Michela Micalizio reporting from the last day of my job shadow! Here at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, the “and theatre” part of it all is where it’s at. Rehearsal for Rumpelstiltskin last night was amazing! There are some extremely talented kids in this show. It will be performing Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays February 14-23rd, as well as Wednesday and Thursday February 19th and 20th. I cannot disclose anything about the play, because that ruins the fun, but I will say to get very excited, this will be a show you shouldn’t miss.

Theatre is a place for timid children to find their voice; it is a safe haven for the downtrodden and a party for the meek. It really is magical. This morning I got to do a puppet floor check by myself! It was much less eventful than the first, however, and I returned upstairs. Reba then informed me that I was to help her with a performance of her show “The True Story of the Toy Fairy.” All I can say is wow! It was an interactive, imaginative and plain wonderful play where the kids got feathers to fly, magic glitter, and a tea party with the toy fairy! Today I saw a lot more of parents playing and joining in on the creation then I have the past two days.

Reba asked me then to help her prototype an exhibit that will be debuting in the museum in the near future. The Imagination Playground is truly a sight to see, with massive blue blocks to build any old thing you want! Reba had the idea to create an activity for kids where they help a monster rebuild his house. I was to play the monster today, and Reba wanted to watch and create a comprehensive guide for volunteers to do this in the future. Prototyping is like rehearsals for the museum staff, she says. And that went very, very well! I operated a sweet blue monster puppet named Sully, and a wonderfully forward 4-year-old girl marched right up and built him a house. Reba says in the past, she’s noticed that boys tend to build the structure of the house, one with walls and a ceiling, while girls would furnish it. This was true for this girl, too, as she proceeded to make a mailbox, a bed, a slide, and many lamps! This will be a wonderful exhibit, children and parents both getting lost in the possibilities of these blue blocks. This was an informational and downright fun job shadow, and I hope to volunteer in the future! Michela Micalizio, signing off.

Update: Pop-Up Playscapes video is here!

Remember those warm summer days when we could play outside for hours without worrying about frostbite? The warm weather may have left us for a bit, but creativity carries on! No Umbrella Media’s mini-documentary on this summer’s Pop Up Playscapes events is now complete. Get a recap of the events, the inspiration behind them, and even a few tips for how to create your own pop-up playscape – indoors or out!

Cooking Healthy: Frozen Banana Bars

Hi, everyone! Did you catch our Cooking Healthy workshop this morning? Even if you missed it, we’re excited to share today’s recipe with you. Make delicious, nutritious goodies at home, any time!

Today’s recipe:

Frozen Banana Bars!

Cooking Healthy is a monthly cooking program sponsored by Northeast Delta Dental and is free with admission. Hope to see you next month!

 

Inside scoop: tips for rainy day visits

Families on their way into the Museum on a rainy summer day.

Families on their way into the Museum on a rainy summer day.

It’s a summer day. It’s raining. You urgently need some indoor fun. You know a place that has TONS of cool stuff to do indoors. You get everyone into their slickers and galoshes and head over to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. [Thank you for thinking of us!] As you approach those familiar white pillars, you realize that yours isn’t the only family who sought shelter at the Museum today. The line is out the door!

Fear not! There’s really plenty of room for everyone to come in out of the rain and have a great time at the Museum. By planning ahead and keeping these insider tips in mind, it’s easy to enjoy a fun and festive day at the Museum, no matter what the weather.

  • Stay the course. Don’t panic! Even when the line stretches down the block, it will usually take no more than 10 minutes to get through the line and into the Museum. (Remember that many people, especially those from out of town, arrive in large parties, so that big crowd may only require a few transactions at the front desk.)
  • Move on up. Hit the second floor first and work your way down, especially if you arrive right at 10am. Most families start in Our Town and work their way up, so if you’re here first thing, reverse the trend by starting on the second floor.
  • Stop by when the first drops start to fall. The longer it rains (days, weeks!), the busier the Museum becomes. If the forecast calls for three days of rain, come in on the first of those days and you’ll see the lightest crowd.
  • Be fashionably late. On most rainy days, crowds start getting lighter at 3pm and thin out for the rest of the day until we close at 5pm. (This may not be the case on a First Friday, when we are open until 8pm.)
  • Drop in and out. Your admission is good all day. If you arrive early and feel a bit overwhelmed, you can step out and have lunch (ask the front desk for a guide to local family restaurants), then come back to play after 3 when it’s a little quieter. Be sure to get your hand stamped!
  • Call ahead. If you’re particularly sensitive to crowds, try calling us at 828-1234 and asking if there are any large groups that day. We’ll be able to tell you whether there’s a summer camp or rec group visiting, how big they are, and when they’ll be here. Group visits are no more than 2 hours long, so you can plan your visit around them.
  • Enjoy yourself! We spend a lot of time watching the weather here, and when we see a rainy forecast, we plan for it! We add more programs and events to the schedule and bring on extra staff and volunteers to make sure your visit is safe and fun. Get into the spirit of the day and you’ll find you can have a lot of fun with the festive atmosphere! One of the great things about a rainy day is that children share space and make new friends. Kids who don’t know each other – sometimes don’t even speak the same language – end up helping each other milk the cow or ringing each other up at the market. It’s a pleasure to see these connections develop!

Come rain or come shine, we’re always happy to see you. If you have any feedback, questions or concerns on a rainy day, don’t hesitate to visit the front desk. Your input helps us make each day at the Museum & Theatre better than the last!