Hand-Clapping and Bug Spray: Summer Children’s Performances at Wolf Trap



Since you can only entertain your kids indoors for so long in the summer to avoid the endless cycle of sunscreen, bug spray and sweatiness, make it count – get to Wolf Trap for its Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods season for a bargain show and great outdoor arts experience.

Here in Vienna, we’re home to the nation’s only national park for the performing arts – Wolf Trap. It’s an incredible place for all ages, and the summertime outdoor theatre is a real treat. I took Bug to a Theatre-in-the-Woods performance when she was just a little over a year old, and she was too young. I ended up leaving in tears. Me, not her. But now that she’s closer to four, the youngest target audience, she really enjoyed it. (Check out this older post for tips on how to best enjoy your Wolf Trap performance).

Last weekend we saw DinoRock , who offered a dinosaur-themed puppet show set to music. Entertaining. But, I’d enjoy some of the more arts-focused performances, such as Illstyle & Peace Productions on July 23 (a dance collective that infuses elements of tap, ballet, and beatboxing into hip-hop choreography) and Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance and the Bog Band on August 8 and 9.

Bari Koral - how pretty!

Bari Koral – how pretty!

In all, this season includes 34 shows from 20 artists, with 10 acts debuting at this wooded venue nestled by a creek.

Be sure to check out the children’s pop-music artist Bari Koral Family Rock Band on July 5 and 6. Bari has been dubbed the “Sheryl Crow for kids” by the NY Post, and her songs are a huge hit with children and adults. Her debut album, Rock and Roll Garden, won several awards. On her new album, Anna and the Cupcakes, Bari and band deliver 10 songs of infectious melodies that range stylistically from roots pop-rockers to blues to country-tinged kickers. On Anna, Koral serves up a tasty selection of songs and music and movement, including the title track about disappearing cupcakes, a scampering gingerbread man, (“Gingerbread Man”), a zooming rocket ship (“Rocket Ship”), and the poppy/happy cover of the folk-rock band the Avett Brothers’ “Kick Drum Heart,” among others.

Recess Monkey - Barenaked Ladies for kids?

Recess Monkey – Barenaked Ladies for kids?

And, don’t miss kindie rock band Recess Monkey, July 17 and 18. Surfing on in with its ninth studio CD, Deep See Diver, Recess Monkey comes ashore for two high-energy, all-age shows. They’ll present their specialty of “insanely catchy, up-tempo songs for the whole family”. At Wolf Trap, they’ll travel deep beneath the sea as Deep Sea Divers, exploring the lesser-known creatures that live beneath the waves. The album is really clever, and well-focused on its theme. The song, “Beach Ball”, sounds like an old Beach Boys song and includes a reference to Phish, which is nice hat tip to parents. The song, “Shrimp”, is a funky tune with kind of a rap flavor – check out the video! And in case you need another reason to convince your kid to eat frozen fish sticks, here’s a video for that, too.

The schedule also includes country-rock tunes by Alastair Moock, July 24 and 25, who we saw at Jammin’ Java and really enjoyed. We still chuckle at his song, “Three Like Me” when the kid throws his parents wallet and jewelry in the toilet. (Hasn’t happened to us … yet).

I love how many children’s musicians today are realizing that parents want to hear quality music too. It’s super cool that they’re also recognizing the resurgence of folk music, a-la Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. These tunes are so much better than Baby Einstein.

But Laurie Berkner, when will you come to Wolf Trap? You are sorely missed here. Bug is currently obsessed with her “Victor Vito” song, and I could only imagine her delight at hearing live the silly song about polar bears who venture across America to find new cuisine for their Alaskan cafe. (You can help get her here by “demanding” her in our community at this link).

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