Children's Theater Grows Up
It seems that when I wrote on this blog last week about the changing face of family theater, I really struck a nerve. It's a genre that's been disrespected for a long time, but seems to have come into its own in recent years.
Director Whit MacLaughlin, who is becoming such a regular presence here I ought to start bugging him for advertising fees, traces the change to Disney's hiring of Julie Taymor, "a downtown artist," to design The Lion King. (Taymor's upcoming projects include Spider-Man The Musical and a film version of The Tempest.) Suddenly quality theater for children paid off, and as usual, that payoff trickled out into the regions where it settled in and allowed a fertile yet neglected aspect of professional theater to really blossom.
As a critic and parent, it's particularly gratifying to attend performances with my children that challenge and inspire us. All of us. Considering that some of Philly's major players and fringe fest regulars are working both on and offstage on several shows (sometimes all at once), the holiday theatergoing season is really starting to feel like something worth celebrating.
Here's my feature for today's Philadelphia Inquirer, which discusses those Philadelphia theaters whose family projects are in either in full bloom or just starting to bud, and what they do that makes their approach unique.