Our guide to cultural events in New York City for children and teenagers happening this weekend and in the week ahead.
CITY OF WATER DAY at the South Street Seaport, on Piers 16 and 17, and other locations (July 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.). This free annual experience may immerse you so thoroughly in the joys and challenges of the local rivers and the harbor that you’ll forget all about the streets and the skyscrapers. Presented by the Waterfront Alliance, which this year is emphasizing ways to help the New York shoreline resist climate change, the day will offer activities from the silly (the Con Edison Cardboard Kayak Race in Brooklyn, which deliberately involves less-than-seaworthy craft) to the serious (science experiments and marine education). Children will especially enjoy the Lower Manhattan alternatives, which will include seaport harbor sails on historical and contemporary vessels and the Waterfront Festival, with exhibits, crafts, children’s book readings, a performance by Arm-of-the-Sea Theater and Disney-sponsored entertainment. And just as water is all around the city, so is this celebration: Satellite events will take place in all five boroughs, Westchester County and New Jersey.
FAMILY DAY AT SUMMERSTAGE at Rumsey Playfield (July 14, 3:30-7 p.m.). Don’t be surprised if bluegrass seems to be sprouting from this Central Park lawn on Sunday. SummerStage, the City Parks Foundation’s free concert series, has focused its annual Family Day on two bands with Southern influences. Railroad Earth, from Stillwater, N.J., draws on bluegrass, rock and jazz traditions to produce a sound that one member calls “country and Eastern.” Ranky Tanky, based in Charleston, S.C., specializes in contemporary versions of the Gullah music developed by enslaved Africans and their descendants on the islands off the southeastern coast of the United States. In addition to all the tunes, the programming will include a Disney activity station and a Puppetmobile production of “Bessie’s Big Shot,” a marionette show about a cow that longs to join the circus.
‘GAME CHANGERS’ at TADA! Youth Theater (July 13, 2 and 4 p.m.; July 16-18, noon and 2 p.m.; through Aug. 1). Aside from the “Jeopardy!” Teen Tournament, few game shows today have contestants 18 or younger. One such exciting competition, however, is going on right now, onstage rather than on television. With a book by Christina Franklin and a score and lyrics by Matthew Gregory, the new musical “Game Changers” is closing the season at TADA! Youth Theater. Performed by the Resident Youth Ensemble, the production takes place at a fictional 1990s TV contest whose six young participants have to grapple with trivia, mystery food challenges and a final round that will test them in an unaccustomed way. And just what is that? Tune in for the answer.
212-252-1619, ext. 5; tadatheater.com
[Read about the events that our other critics have chosen for the week ahead.]
I WAN JAN: PUPPETRY FROM TAIWAN at Flushing Town Hall (July 14, 3:30 p.m.). You don’t need to understand a single Chinese phrase to appreciate this venerable company’s visit to Queens. Its members specialize in body language, artfully conveyed by hand puppets that exemplify the folk art known as bu dai xi, or “cloth bag drama.” Accompanied by live traditional music, the troupe will perform the mostly wordless “Cave of Fire and Cloud,” a story recommended for children 7 and older and adapted from the great Chinese epic “Journey to the West.” Expect Peking Opera influences and lots of cool martial arts. After the show, at 4:30 p.m., the ensemble will also offer a workshop (tickets are limited and an R.S.V.P. is required) that is geared toward theatergoers 10 and older, who can handle some of the puppets and try the manipulators’ techniques.
718-463-7700, ext. 222; flushingtownhall.org
‘READING ZOO’ at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (through Oct. 6). In most museums for the young, the only wild things are the boisterous little visitors. But this institution is a rare example that has its own collection of animals — live and taxidermied. The stuffed specimens play starring roles in this new exhibition, which juxtaposes examples of more than a dozen species, like a white-tailed deer, a harp seal, striped skunks and a red-tailed hawk, with reading nooks filled with related fiction and nonfiction books. Murals evoke the creatures’ natural habitats, and in addition to the opportunity to enjoy a story with, say, a snowy owl looking over your shoulder, the show offers a research station and other activities. The options include playing with animal puppets and trying to match tracks and scat with the relevant species. Children can also meet and touch some wild friends this Saturday at 4:15 p.m., when the program Live Animal Adventure will bring them face-to-face with an Eastern box turtle and a corn snake.
‘RENT PARTY’ at the Tank (July 12, 7 p.m.; July 13, 3 and 7 p.m.; July 14, noon and 3 p.m.; through July 21). This type of social gathering used to be a New York tradition. A fixture in Harlem during the years of the Great Migration, rent parties offered live music and cheap refreshments in exchange for a modest admission charge; the hosts used the proceeds to help pay their landlords. Written by Amina Henry and produced by Drama of Works, this hourlong show uses a toy theater, saxophone tunes, cutout photos, puppetry, shadow play and a cast of actors to recreate a neighborhood block in the 1920s. There, three friends — Rose, Jenny and Ricky — are trying to help their mothers put together a rent party. The Tank invites everyone to join the festivities, but especially children 10 and older.
WEBOP FAMILY JAZZ PARTY: NEW ORLEANS JAZZ JAM at the Ertegun Atrium, Frederick P. Rose Hall (July 13, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.). Small children tend to dislike sitting still, and at this event, they won’t have to. Affiliated with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s WeBop education program for ages 8 months to 5 years, this 45-minute celebration promises to get everyone marching in a traditional New Orleans second line, a kind of joyous musical parade. Little revelers can also dance to the beats of Buddy Bolden, one of jazz’s earliest pioneers; scat like Louis Armstrong; and strut to the tunes of Jelly Roll Morton. Tim Sullivan, a.k.a. Mr. Tim, will preside, leading the WeBop Family Band.
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