Our guide to cultural events in New York City for children and teenagers happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
CHILDREN’S DAY at the Center for Jewish History (March 17, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.). While some religious holidays are serious and somber, Purim isn’t. Commemorating the foiling of a plot against the Jews in ancient Persia, this 24-hour observance (starting this year at sundown on Wednesday) calls for dramatic skits, happy feasting and boisterous celebration — all of which young visitors can look forward to in some form at this free Purim-themed event. Presented by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the fun will include a singalong of Yiddish folk tunes (lyrics will be provided), a magic show by Shane Baker, festive treats and a performance of “Lyzer the Miser,” a puppet adaptation from Great Small Works of a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. In the tale, a clever man outwits a stingy one, a plot very much in keeping with the spirit of the holiday.
JUST KIDDING: ‘JEDI ACADEMY’ at Symphony Space (March 16, 11 a.m.). Although Obi-Wan Kenobi is no longer around to teach aspiring Jedi masters, David Engel has taken up the sword — or, rather, the lightsaber. Appearing as Panniken Moonjumper, Engel offers a show that combines broad comedy, lots of movement (for young audience members as well as himself), “Star Wars” lore and, of course, lessons in lightsaber technique and in using the Force. He encourages all aspiring Jedi knights to come to the performance dressed as a favorite character from one of the films. (Tickets are limited.)
‘OLIVE & PEARL’ at BAM Fisher (March 15 and 18, 10:30 and 11:45 a.m.; March 16-17, 11 a.m.). Grandmothers don’t get much spryer than Pearl. She twirls about the stage, does the jig, builds fires and embarks on an imaginary trip to the moon with her granddaughter, Olive, in this presentation from Treehouse Shakers, a company specializing in dance theater for the young. Written and directed by Mara McEwin and choreographed by Emily Bunning, the show welcomes its intended audience — those ages 2 to 5 — into an intimate, homey environment that’s also populated by puppets, among them a mouse, a fish and fairies. (The company will offer an hourlong family puppetry workshop, which requires a separate admission fee, at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday.) Incorporating Anthony Rizzo’s live Irish fiddle and bluegrass tunes, the production offers relaxed performances (Friday and Monday at 11:45 a.m.) for children on the autism spectrum or with other disabilities.
‘SHENANIGANS! IRISH CELEBRATION’ at the Actors Temple Theater (March 16, 3:30 p.m.; March 17, 11 a.m.). These are the kind of shenanigans in which children 10 and younger can safely participate. Combining shamrocks, superheroes, spying and a smidgen of feminism — March is Women’s History Month — this production from Funikijam World Music features the company’s first female lead, Ashton Parrack. She portrays Captain Jam, head of an espionage team on a St. Patrick’s Day mission. Written by Brian Barrentine, the creator of Funikijam, which offers world-music classes and programs for children, the hourlong show promises Celtic lore and song, as well as fancy footwork from the Aherne Sheehan School of Irish Dance.
[Read about the events that our other critics have chosen for the week ahead.]
TAP EXPLORATIONS: ‘REMEMBERING MABLE LEE’ at the American Tap Dance Center (March 16, 5 p.m.). Children don’t have to know who Mable Lee was to get a kick — or probably many kicks — out of this program. Part of Tap Explorations, a new family series from the American Tap Dance Foundation, this event will celebrate Lee, an extraordinary performer who died last month at 97 — and was happily hoofing as recently as July. The series, which incorporates film clips, discussions and demonstrations by artists like the Tap City Youth Ensemble, also includes audience participation, so wear your dancing shoes. (An R.S.V.P. is requested.)
TILT KIDS FESTIVAL at various locations (through March 31). If this monthlong event hasn’t already given your children new angles from which to view the world, they still have time to dive in. Presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Française, the festival this year focuses on inclusion and tolerance. Witness “Adaku’s Revolt,” at the Abrons Arts Center, which plays on Fridays at 6:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 6:30 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m., through March 24. Commissioned by the French Institute from the Nigerian-American MacArthur fellow Okwui Okpokwasili, who also stars in it, this drama chronicles a black girl’s rebellion against Western concepts of beauty. Adaku, whose name means “one who brings wealth to the family” in the Igbo language, views her unstraightened hair as a form of cultural richness. Designed and directed by Peter Born, the show celebrates her individuality without minimizing the struggle it entails. The Tilt agenda also includes more theater (March 23-31) and a free program that is offered in English but seems quintessentially French: Philosophy for Kids (March 24).
‘THE UGLY DUCKLING’ at the Borough of Manhattan Community College Tribeca Performing Arts Center (March 16, 11 a.m.). The titular character of this Hans Christian Andersen adaptation positively glows — and not just because he eventually discovers that he’s really a beautiful swan. Lightwire Theater, the show’s production company, builds puppets from recycled materials like aluminum rods, skateboard wheels, fishing rod and fabric, and defines these sculptures’ outlines and features with electroluminescent wire. Dancers manipulate the battery-powered creations in total darkness to music that ranges from classical to pop. The result is a kind of neon ballet.
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