Madison has an abundance of excellent theater, including grownup shows you can take the little ones to. But some of the best productions all season are geared toward the 18-and-younger set. From giant peaches to dancing frogs and lively holiday fare, these productions should be stellar choices for your littlest theater fans this fall.
Overture Center's Playhouse, Oct. 11-26
James and the Giant Peach is the lovable Roald Dahl story about a boy named James, who is forced to live with his ornery aunts after his parents are tragically consumed by a runaway rhinoceros. Lucky for James, a large, magical peach saves the day. Hilarity, adventure and enchantment ensue in this whimsical production by Children's Theater of Madison.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, Oct. 23
Make it up to your son for sitting through his sister's dance recitals. Part X Games and part You Got Served, 360 Allstars is a circus-like exhibition of urban street acts like breakdancing, BMX bike tricks and even basketball. It's not theater per se, but its dramatic, one-of-a-kind look at airborne rotation will have you spinning.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, Oct. 26
The Imago Theatre production of Frogz features acrobatic amphibians, life-size puppets, music, lights and stagecraft sure to dazzle even the most videogame-addicted child. This eye-catching show, which played on Broadway in 2000 and 2002, is a reason to put down the iPad and pay attention.
The Snow Queen
Waisman Center Auditorium, Nov. 9
Playtime Productions probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think of children's theater in Madison, but it's definitely the one with the most children in the cast. The organization casts 25 to 30 kids, from third grade through high school, in all shows. This November, the troupe presents the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen, which served as source material for Disney's Frozen.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, Nov. 16
What could be more Wisconsin than playing in the snow? Nova Scotia's Mermaid Theatre, in collaboration with children's book author Marie-Louise Gay, created this play about the joys and wonders of a day spent in the fluffy cold stuff. With snow angels, snowballs and snow suits, winter fun for your family starts here.
The Nutcracker Fantasy
Wisconsin Union Theater's Shannon Hall, Dec. 20-21
Each year, Dance Wisconsin launches its own take on the seasonal classic that combines music, theater and dance. The Nutcracker Fantasy features more carolers, singers and waltzing couples. Artistic director JoJean Retrum describes it as a "more family friendly" version of the show than what you might find elsewhere. Presented in the beautifully redone Wisconsin Union Theater, it's the perfect stocking stuffer.
Young Shakespeare Players Playhouse, Dec. 4-7 & 11-14
This season Madison's Young Shakespeare Players tackle that foremost story of power, democracy and political betrayal, Julius Caesar. All of the troupe's productions are done with a young cast, ages 7 to 18. This is a great opportunity to show your children that Shakespeare is not only enjoyable but understandable to kids. Performances are free and open to the public.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, Dec. 13-23
Don't miss this holiday favorite, produced by Children's Theater of Madison. Ebenezer is a miserly humbug. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come are filled with haunting advice. And Tiny Tim warms nearly every heart in the house when he proclaims, "God bless us, every one!"