Children’s Showcase returns for 30th season in Penticton

The longest running children’s entertainment series in B.C. returns for their 30th anniversary to continue feeding the imagination of youth.

The longest running children’s entertainment series in B.C. returns for their 30th anniversary to continue feeding the imagination of youth.

Children’s Showcase is a non-profit organization, founded in 1983, dedicated to bringing professional quality performing arts to the South Okanagan. Prema Harris, committee member, has been volunteering with Children’s Showcase for almost all of those 30 years.

“I like what they were doing, bringing the performing arts to Penticton that weren’t so commercial and they were good quality performing arts that are affordable for families,” she said of her reasons for stepping on board.

The goal of the Children’s Showcase is to enrich the lives of children and their families by exposing them to a wide variety of performances including dance, music, storytelling, theatre, juggling, mime, comedy and magic. Harris said the comments she hears from families and smiles she finds on children’s faces at the shows keeps her coming back every year.

“One time we had some Cuban or South American drummers up on stage and this little boy went up all on his own and nobody stopped him. He went behind one of the djembe’s and all you could see from the audience was his little hands trying to drum,” said Harris. “That is always gratifying when you see how a child has been impacted by a performance.”

Their target audience ranges in age from three to 12 years old, although their shows generally appeal to a much wider age range. In keeping with the short attention span of the younger members of the audience the shows are approximately one hour in duration. The acts are chosen by the committee who travel to two performance arts trade shows with a specific mandate in mind.

“We want the performers we chose to be good at their craft and show a great deal of respect to the audience so they aren’t demeaning to the little kids. We also want the performers to be empowering for the kids,” said Harris.

Kicking off the Children’s Showcase is the North Shore Celtic Ensemble on Nov. 3. The group has performed at the showcase before and are led by Claude Giguére and Jay Knutson. What began as Celtic is now a spirited no-boundaries repertoire that reflects a wide range of musical influences including celtic, jazz, classical folk and more. Knutson is a founding member of Spirit of the West and recorded several albums with the group.

Penticton musician Bobby Bovenzi will be featured for the second show on Jan. 12, 2014 with The Real Cooligans. Organizers are hoping to feature cameo’s by other local performers during this show.

“We are hoping to get artists who grew up in this area and maybe even grew up watching the Children’s Showcase,” said Harris.

In February Peter and the Wolf will be told by Figuera Theatre. This company is based in Iceland and their acclaimed production of marionette, puppet and mask creations have been premiered on stages, films, television and museums around the globe.

“His shows are pure magic,” said Harris. “He takes children’s imagination away with him.”

Finishing off the Children’s Showcase season is Robin Hood by Dufflebag Theatre on April 27, 2014. They perform over 600 shows a year around the world. DuffleBag actors begin retelling original adaptations of select fairy tales and classics and just when the audience becomes enthralled a twist is created.

“They are quite funny. They narrate the story and then ask participants from the audience to come up and play the main characters,” said Harris.

See all four shows for only $30 (series tickets) at the Cleland Theatre in the Penticton Community Centre. All shows are on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. Robin Hood will be at Centre Stage Theatre located at the Summerland Secondary School. Tickets are available at Tumbleweed Gallery, Penticton & Wine Country Visitor Centre and The Beanery Coffee Co. in Summerland. Children’s Showcase also has a Theatre Angels program where etickets can be purchased anonymously and will be handed out through organizations like the Boys and Girls Club to individuals who would otherwise not be able to attend.

Tickets for individual performances are sold at the door of the theatre on the day of the performance, 10 to 15 minutes before the curtain goes up.

Individual door tickets are $12 per person. Some shows do sell out and organizers suggest to get a series package so you won’t be disappointed.

For more information about Children’s Showcase or the Theatre Angels program visit www.childrensshowcase.org or call 250-493-0475.