- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 26, 2004

Nestled in a grove at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna is a hidden gem. The 800-seat Theatre-in-the-Woods is an underpublicized yet well-loved summer venue for children’s theater.

This is the 30th summer for Theatre-in-the-Woods. The performances usually reflect or are related to whatever is playing at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. Tickets — which were free until the late 1990s — are reasonable at $5 each.

“We have been bringing in the highest-quality performances,” says Stacia Wood, Wolf Trap’s assistant director of education and outreach. “This year, our top-notch performances will continue.”

Ms. Wood says this year’s schedule will feature both old favorites and new acts. Dinorock, the local trio that performs dinosaur-themed musical comedy, kicked off the season June 22.

Bob Brown Puppets, a popular Virginia-based puppet troupe, will present “The Reluctant Dragon” the week of July 13.

Performances run Tuesdays through Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Two acts perform each day, and patrons can get $8 tickets good for both shows.

The shows are recommended for children in kindergarten through sixth grade, Ms. Wood says. Most acts also have downloadable and printable study guides that go along with the performance. The guides can be found at www.wolf-trap.org/performances/woods.html.

Families can make an educational morning out of their visit on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Performers from the 10 a.m. shows conduct interactive workshops at 11:15 a.m. in the meadow pavilion just outside the theater. The workshops are free, but advance registration is recommended, Ms. Wood says.

Theatre-in-the-Woods is also a great place to picnic. Visitors can bring picnic supplies, which must remain in the picnic grove during the performance. After the shows, the lawn and grove are filled with coolers and blankets. Many children also bring swimsuits and water shoes to go wading in the adjacent creek.

The schedule for the remainder of the season is as follows:

• Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m., Barefoot Puppets’ “Little Bread Hen” — Journey with this puppet company to a small European bakery to answer some questions from the original tale.

• Tuesday through Saturday, 11:15 a.m., Robbie Schaefer, “Songs for Kids Like Us” — Sing along with Robbie Schaefer, the guitarist for Eddie From Ohio, as he belts out tunes about everything from dirty diapers to salamander thighs.

• July 6 through 10, 10 a.m., National Symphony Orchestra’s Kinderkonzerts, “Fiddling Around” • NSO violinist Glenn Donnellan and bassist Rick Barber will perform a concert to introduce children to classical music. The program also will include fiddling and blues.

• July 6 through 10, 11:15 a.m., Classika Theatre, “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Golden Fish” • Classika Theatre will present its own adaptation of a Russian fairy tale. The story is about a kind fisherman, his greedy wife and the golden fish that teaches the woman an unforgettable lesson. Beautiful music is part of the show.

• July 13 through 17, 10 a.m., Bob Brown Puppets’ “The Reluctant Dragon” — When a dragon takes up residence in a cave, the townspeople send in George the Dragon Slayer. A young boy, however, discovers the dragon is more interested in writing poetry than breathing fire. The two devise a plan to let George keep his reputation while the gentle dragon lives in peace.

• July 13 through 17, 11:15 a.m., Nada Brahma, “The World of Music” — This high-energy performance introduces children to music and dance from many cultures.

• July 20 through 24, 10 a.m., Tappers With Attitude — This youth ensemble will perform an all-tap show, a cappella, to a wide variety of music, including Latin and jazz.

• July 20 through 24, 11:15 a.m., Imagination Stage’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” — This is a classic tale of a lazy apprentice who uses his master’s power to do chores but finds more power than he can handle.

• July 27 through 31, 10 a.m., Diane Macklin, “Magnificent Folks, Animals and Other Such Tales” • Storyteller Diane Macklin incorporates stories, songs, music and dance in this performance about truths found in the animal kingdom.

• July 27 through 31, 11:15 a.m., Dance Institute of Washington’s “Petrouchka” — This story of a young puppet who wishes to become human will be interpreted by a talented young dance company.

• Aug. 3 through 7, 10 a.m., Maryland Youth Ballet’s “Caroline Goes to the Ballet” — This is the tale of a girl’s first trip to the ballet, when she and her friends get a little closer to the action then they had planned.

• Aug. 3 through 7, 11:15 a.m., Mark Jaster, silent performer — Mr. Jaster portrays Piccolo, a gentle, wordless character. He will engage the audience with a variety of comedy and musical surprises.

WHEN YOU GO:

LOCATION: Wolf Trap’s Theatre-in-the-Woods is at 1645 Trap Road, Vienna.

Directions: From the Beltway, take Interstate 66 to the Dulles Toll Road. Follow signs for Wolf Trap exits. Pay the 50-cent toll and exit at the Wolf Trap ramp.

Parking: On-site parking is free and plentiful.

Admission: $5 for one show or $8 for two shows on the same day. Children younger than 3 are admitted free. Many performances sell out, so buying tickets in advance is recommended. Call 703/218-6500 or visit www.tickets.com to order.

Hours: Performances are at 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays through Aug. 7. Two troupes perform each week.

Note: It is a long walk uphill from the parking lot to the theater, so bring a stroller for very young children. The theater is in a shaded area, but bring insect repellant. No food or drink (other than water) can be brought into the theater. The area immediately adjacent to the theater has picnic tables. Many patrons bring coolers and leave them in the picnic area during the show. The picnic area also is next to a shallow creek, and many children bring bathing suits and water shoes to go wading after the performance.

More information: Call 703/255-1900 or visit www.wolf-trap.org.

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