SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Li Liu came onto the stage at the Old Barn Theater, dancing and twirling with spinning plates on poles she held as young children’s eyes remained fixed on the acrobatic show.
Soon, “oos” and “ahhhs” and “Mom, look” were heard from the rafter seats as Liu stood on her head holding the plates, jumped onto a table and slid across the stage without falling during the performance that also involved children in the audience.
“I really enjoyed being on stage and seeing the spinning plate and the ribbon dancing,” said Hailey Fogel, 9, of North Attleboro, who came for the launch of Theater By the Children’s Festival lineup. Sea.
Thom Warren, Associate Theater Producer, simply explained the reasons for offering the program.
“You have to introduce children to theatre, let them see it, let them get involved, let them see and learn. You start off incrementally and work your way up to full production,” he said of the effort, which produces benefits for the theater but has an overall mission to cultivate new audiences at a young age. .
In this show, Liu, a freelance artist based in the United States – and her own boss – presents a solo acrobatic show for children and families. Her routine includes hand balancing, plate spinning, artistic cycling, ribbon dancing, and foot juggling.
She did much of this for the kids who came to see performances last week at the 89-year-old Matunuck Theater.
Liu was born in Shenyang in northeast China. At age six, she began her acrobatic training and the following year she attended the Chinese National Circus School.
After winning a gold medal at the prestigious Festival Mondial du Cirque Demain in Paris, France, Liu traveled extensively across Europe, Africa and Asia with the Liaoning Acrobatic Arts Troupe.
She came to the United States in 2000 with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and toured across the country. She is a regular on the NBA and WNBA halftime circuits and also a featured performer on Princess Cruise Line. In 2010, she appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Her background is why Claudia Hodderson came with her daughter, Catherine, who loves acrobatics and wants to see someone do it.
“It’s a small theatre. It’s just lovely and the right place for it,” she said, just before Liu, in her red tights that have sequins reflecting yellow and green, did rushes onto the stage with white plates on small sticks.
It only took a few minutes before she had children do the same to her. None dropped the plates, designed in a way to prevent this from happening with untrained performers, and their acts drew applause from those who failed under the bright lights.
Warren said this show stars in the carefully considered acts that Theater By The Sea brings to children’s shows. They should have a strong visual element, lots of movement, mystery, and an appealing color range.
“Magicians and acrobats particularly fall into this category. There is something going on and their eyes are constantly fixed on it,” he said, noting that shows are usually around 45 minutes long.
The rest of the summer program, he said, also promises to attract children and their parents who may be looking for something different to do during the scorching days of summer in an air-conditioned theatre.
July 15 – Magician Scott Jameson
Magician and juggler Scott Jameson comes in for a performance that had the audience laughing out loud and perched on the edge of their seats. Umbrellas will be pulled out of nowhere, a drawing will come to life, basketballs will be spun and juggled, and the audience will travel through time.
The show has two performances: 10 a.m. and noon.
July 29 – Disney’s Frozen Jr. presented by the students of Camp Theater By The Sea.
Based on the 2018 Broadway musical, Frozen Jr. brings Elsa, Anna and the magical land of Arendelle to life on stage. The show features all of the memorable songs from the animated film, with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, plus five new songs written for the Broadway production.
A story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Frozen Jr. expands on the emotional relationship and journey between Princesses Anna and Elsa. Facing danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of brotherhood.
With a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magic, adventure, and humor, Frozen Jr. is sure to thaw even the coldest heart!
Frozen Jr. will be presented at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
August 5 – Robert Clarke: magician/juggler
Audience favorite Robert Clarke comes to capture young and old alike with his fun family show. Clarke, with great energy and a fast pace, takes the audience on a roller coaster of laughter and cheers.
Each show is interactive with the audience with children and adults. It will be presented at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
August 12 – Go Home Tiny Monster presented by The Gottabees.
After a sudden storm, Sylvie and her loving family of crafty creatures need a new home. Luckily, they have an audience full of people who can help them!
Go Home Tiny Monster is a wildly creative theatrical ode to the generosity of a community. The show, told entirely without words, features The Gottabees’ signature blend of puppetry, live music, physical theater and silliness.
The show will be presented at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
As part of their sponsorship, The Original Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Stand, located at nearby 757 Matunuck Beach Road, will be offering a free child cone with the purchase of an adult cone and showing their retained show tickets at the door.
The Children’s Festival performances will take place at the Theater By The Sea located at 364 Cards Pond Road, Wakefield, RI. Single tickets are $13 each, with a discount available for those who purchase a three-show package (not available online).
Discounted rates are available for groups of 20 or more by calling (401) 782-3800 x112. Tickets are on sale at the box office. Visit theatrebythesea.com or call (401) 782-8587 for more information.