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A CurtainUp Feature
The Berkshires Offer Opportunities Galore to Turn Today's Kids into Tomorrow's Performing and Visual Arts Audiences
by Elyse SommerPredictions that tourism is well on the way to being this area's number one industry will surprise no one who has visited the Berkshires. CurtainUp's Berkshire coverage is at best a glimpse of what's available in all categories of entertainment. It would take more than our limited human resources to keep track of the many terrific opportunities, particularly during the summer season, to introduce the youngsters in your life to the performing and visual arts -- in a child-friendly atmosphere and at affordable prices.
To give you an idea of the wealth of possibilities, here are a few events currently on the Berkshire calendar of cultural events:
At Tanglewood's beautiful Ozawa Hall, the second of the season's free family concerts (Sunday at 6 p.m.) with the Tanglewood Center Fellows performing works by Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Copland, Rimsky Korsakov, Messien, Respighi and Crumb.(413/ 637-5165)
At Jacob's Pillow, one of the country's premier homes for dance, the free early evening (6:30) outdoor performance events known as "Inside/Out/" (413/243-0745 )
At the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Wiley and the Hairy Man in conjunction with the Berkshire Theatre Festival and performed by their summer training interns. (413/298-5536)
At the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, Singing In the Rain (also for very young kids The Emperor's New Clothes). This charming theater in the round dedicated to the musical theater has been a training ground for performers that include Nathan Lane and a fun introduction to musicals that attract kids from age five to ninety. (518/398-9292).
As part of Barrington Stage's Youth Theatre Program the musical Guys and Dolls is being performed by young local talent in Pittsfield and Sheffield (413/528-8888).
Chesterwood, the wonderful woodsy sculpture museum that was once the home and studio of the man who created some of our most famous national monuments, has some special hands-on tours for children. (413/298-3879). At the Norman Rockwell Museum children are admitted free at all times (413/298-4100).
The above is just a sampling, with details about these organizations full seasonal events available on their web sites -- most on the grey strip of our Berkshire Main Page. Of course, as any adult who was fortunate enough to be exposed regularly to cultural events at an early age knows, with a little parental homework and willingness to risk a less than 100% perfect experience you don't have to limit yourself to shows tagged "for children" or "for families".
A 7-year-old who loves In Synch is just as likely to enjoy an evening with a big symphonic orchestra. This past Wednesday (7/18), I sat in front of two brothers, aged five and seven who sat quietly and attentively through the entire Mahler 5th Symphony performed by the TMC orchestra. The older boy actually poked his grandfather when he recognized the "riff" from Fantasia. On the other hand, it's the wise parent or grandparent who's prepared not to stay the full course, at least for the first few classical music experiences. My own favorite 7-year-old, Jack Sommer, is one case in point. He has been to three Broadway shows which he liked sufficiently to declare "I want to see it again" (ha! not at today's Broadway prices, with only occasional special prices for kids accompanied by adults). During a 4th of July visit to Tanglewood, he enjoyed the chance to watch the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra perform under the direction of Seiji Ozawa. He was, however, ready to leave at the intermission -- which is why the modestly priced concerts by the TMC and Boston Institute's younger players are ideal introductions.
Enough"enjoy." If you enjoy, they'll enjoy.