Reading to our children is an early delight that lasts throughout childhood. Performing arts bring that delight to life. Oregon Children’s Theatre knows this well, reaching over 120,000 children and families every year through its dynamic line-up of theatre productions. Its 2019-2020 season is no different—delivering on the power of storytelling to transport us, teach us and alight our imagination, all while creating a fun family experience. Read on for what not to miss on S.T.A.G.E. as well as ways for little dramatists to participate.

S is for Story
Whenever the lights dim, the crowd hums to a collective silence and the costumed actors take their places, we embark on a journey, be it to a fantasy world, another time or the recognizable magic of our own backyards. That’s the power of story. And Oregon Children’s Theatre (OCT) knows that good ones come in all shapes and sizes—this season promises diverse voices and ideas, emotional journeys and literary favorites, all capped off with a feel-good musical and lasting memories.

T is for Teaching Tool
Presenting the lives of others invites audiences of all ages to journey through someone else’s experience—a lesson especially vital for children as they learn empathy and understanding. Along with family entertainment, performances can serve as important conversation starters too. Take The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 and what life is like for a 12-year-old boy in a U.S. internment camp during WWII. By transporting us, the theater teaches us all.

A is for Acting Academy
In addition to performances, OCT’s Acting Academy has taught year-round educational programs about the craft of theater since 1988. Young drama students (starting at age 3!) can develop life skills like confidence, collaboration and compassion while experiencing the rewards of practice and preparation. The academy offers inspiring classes, workshops as well as residencies in schools and the community. (And FYI: OCT subscribers receive 20% off classes.)

G is for a Goodall, Jane Goodall—and Much More
OCT’s 2019-2020 season offers five family-friendly performances, swinging into action with Me… Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall, starring a 10-year-old Jane and recommended for the 5-and-up camp. Others appeal to all ages, like Eric Carle classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, brought to life (along with other Carle titles) by a cast of puppets, and popular book Dragons Love Tacos. Kennedy Center commission The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 is recommended for an older crowd of 10 and up. The season culminates with Last Stop on Market Street, a musical that blends hip-hop, Motown, gospel and rap for 5-and-up theatergoers.

E is for Empowering Entertainment
We all need a little escape, one that can have us dancing in our seat or going on an emotional journey with a character. Whether honing communication skills in acting class or watching a show, theatre can also empower us, with access to a new part of ourselves or the start of a life-long appreciation for an art form. Best of all, the experience is meant to be shared, with weekday performances for school groups and weekend performances for families. Whenever you buy a ticket to a show, you can also add on a donation to help OCT ensure every child experiences the gifts of live theatre.

…And Encore
This season, young audiences can also check out OCT’s Young Professionals Company’s improv group, Impulse. Your little one will be sure to laugh along with the audience, and may be inspired to participate in the teen mentoring program when they’re a little older.

Learn more about Oregon Children’s Theatre at octc.org.

— Jennifer Massoni Pardini

all photos courtesy of photo: Owen Carey Photography via Oregon Children’s Theatre