8 Things to Do With Your Kids in N.Y.C. This Weekend
Our guide to cultural events in New York City for children and teenagers happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
‘ANGELINA BALLERINA: THE VERY MERRY HOLIDAY MUSICAL’ at the McGinn/Cazale Theater (Dec. 28-30, 1 p.m.; through Jan. 6). While the meanspirited Mouse King and his minions have been dancing across stages in various versions of “The Nutcracker,” a much more benevolent rodent has been pirouetting under the spotlight in this Vital Theater Company revival. She is Angelina Ballerina, the talented mouse from the children’s book series by Katharine Holabird. In this adaptation by Ben Morss (score) and Susan DiLallo (book and lyrics), Angelina and her friends are putting together a huge holiday pageant when a mishap interferes with their plans. This mouse, however, isn’t easily defeated.
CELEBRATE KWANZAA! at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (through Dec. 30, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) and KWANZAA 2018 at the American Museum of Natural History (Dec. 29, noon-5 p.m.). The name of this African-American holiday derives from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” At these commemorations, the fruits to enjoy will be largely creative and cultural, though the Brooklyn Children’s Museum will also offer something tasty. On Friday afternoon, it will serve akara, black-eyed-pea fritters, to accompany the telling of the African folk tale “Anansi and the Pot of Beans.” Other program highlights in Brooklyn include a Sunday afternoon workshop, at which the Little Orchestra Society will explore the sounds of Kwanzaa, as well as daily opportunities to build mbiras (thumb pianos) and clay artwork to add to the museum’s communal altar. Animals will be part of each day, too, when young visitors meet live creatures and learn how various species illustrate the Kwanzaa principle of umoja, or unity, by cooperating in the wild. (A full schedule is on the website.) On Saturday at the American Museum of Natural History, the scholar Linda H. Humes will host a program with performances by the master drummers Sanga of the Valley and Andoche Jean Loubaki, and the Afro-Cuban dance troupe Oyu Oro. Children should be especially interested in a live drawing demonstration by artists from the Black Comics Collective, who will create illustrations and strips representing all seven of Kwanzaa’s principles.
MAKING MAGIC at the New-York Historical Society (through Dec. 30 and on Jan. 1, 2-4 p.m.). Attend school during winter vacation? If that institution happened to be Hogwarts, many children would be eager to enroll. And that’s exactly the kind of curriculum they can expect at the society, which is celebrating its exhibition “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” with wizarding workshops at its DiMenna Children’s History Museum. Although the activities don’t include admission to the show, they do present opportunities to make wands, brew potions, unravel ciphers (hidden codes) and make badges representing the Hogwarts houses. The museum will rotate the crafts throughout the recess, so it encourages repeat visits.
‘THE MENDELSSOHN ELECTRIC’ at the Park Avenue Armory (Dec. 28-29, 2 and 5:30 p.m.). This isn’t the Mendelssohn music you’re familiar with, and not just because it’s electric. Commissioned by the armory and created by Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, this interactive production for audiences 10 and older illuminates the life of Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-47), a gifted composer and performer who largely labored in the shadow of her more famous younger brother, Felix. The show gives Fanny the spotlight while also exploring her relationship with Felix and with Wilhelm Hensel, the painter she eventually married. Featuring an original score that draws on 1980s musical influences, “The Mendelssohn Electric” reimagines all three as teenage pop strivers in 19th-century Berlin, where Felix becomes — here, literally — a rock star. Part of “The Electric Doyenne” trilogy, which Drew Petersen conceived as a tribute to women in music history, the production also includes two of Fanny Mendelssohn’s real compositions: an excerpt from her own wedding march and her “Easter” Sonata, once attributed to Felix but now acknowledged as hers alone.
REMAKE THE HOLIDAYS at the New York Hall of Science (Dec. 27-30, noon-4 p.m.). The season that brings joy to the world also brings junk to the world. This Queens museum helps solve that problem at this annual event, which turns discards into inspired designs. Every day will feature a fabric arts scrap shop, where children can transform old cloth into inventions like stuffed toys and weavings; a winter wonderland gallery, which invites them to fashion castoff cardboard, textiles and other materials into art; and a workshop at which they’ll make gift tags from recycled paper. Other activities will include creating wreaths from old catalogs and Christmas wrap and learning how to cultivate mushrooms, which can remove environmental toxins from soil.
‘SCROOGE & GILBERT & SULLIVAN’ at the Riverside Theater (Dec. 27 and 29, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 28 and 30, 2:30 p.m.). The unredeemed Ebenezer Scrooge would probably think that Gilbert and Sullivan tunes were pretty much humbug. Here, however, he must perform them, along with Jacob Marley, the Cratchits and sundry other characters from Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” Nathan Hull, artistic director of Amore Opera, has performed this unusual marriage, writing new lyrics for songs from 11 Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, including “The Pirates of Penzance,” “The Mikado” and “H.M.S. Pinafore.” He has used them in his own adaptation of Dickens’s work, which can introduce children to both this classic Victorian holiday tale and to the art of opera.
‘THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR SHOW’ at the Town Hall (Dec. 28, 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Dec. 29, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.). The ravenous star of this 50-minute production still has an appetite for New York — and New York for him. Created by Jonathan Rockefeller and based on the work of the children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show,” which first played in a somewhat different form in Manhattan in 2016, is back for a brief fourth run. Using huge, imaginative puppets and much of Mr. Carle’s own text, it adapts not only the adventures of the titular character, but also those of the creatures in three more of his books: “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” “10 Little Rubber Ducks” and “The Very Lonely Firefly.” Expect children to be very delighted.
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