The world comes to Philly (children’s version)


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Italian actor Oreste Catagna brings Oscar Wilde’s children’s classic “The Happy Prince” to life in one of this year’s featured performances at the Philadelphia International Children’s Festival.

It really is a small world after all. At least it is while the Philadelphia International Children’s Festival is under way.

This year’s 17th edition of the arts and crafts festival for kids, which continues through Sunday, May 6, showcases the world’s diversity in an entertaining and educational fashion, with feature performances from eight groups representing seven countries — Belgium, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, Uganda and the United States.

A complete listing of the main stage shows follows. Tickets are $10 each for the first show and $6 each for additional shows (up to the number purchased for the first show). For tickets or information, visit www.pennpresents.org or call 215-898-3900.

SHANGRI-LA CHINESE ACROBATS: This 18-member troupe, formerly known as the Chinese Magic Revue, has dazzled audiences around the world with acrobatic performances featuring feats of balance, kung fu, brilliant costumes and a touch of comedy. Today at 10 a.m., Friday at noon, Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at noon and 4 p.m. in Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St.

“THE HAPPY PRINCE”: The Fondazione Aida children’s theater of Verona, Italy, presents Oreste Catagna’s original interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s classic children’s tale, set to a jazz score by Claudio Angeleri. Today at 10 a.m., Friday at noon, Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Harold Prince Theatre, Annenberg Center.

KUNIKO YAMAMOTO: A frequent performer at Disney’s Epcot Center, this Japanese storyteller comes to Philly with a feast of folk tales, including “The Little Funny Woman” and a Japanese favorite, “The Stonecutter.” Today at 10 a.m., Friday at noon, Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. and Sunday at noon and 2 p.m. in Studio Theatre, Annenberg Center.

ROBERT MINDEN DUO: Canadian musician/storytellers Robert Minden and Carla Hallet explore the musical possibilities of all sorts of unusual instruments and objects in “The Lost Sound.” Today at 10 a.m., Friday at noon, Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Iron Gate Theatre, 3700 Chestnut St.

NDERE TROUPE: This ensemble seeks to conserve and promote the rich musical, dance and poetic traditions of the many cultures that make up modern Uganda in the wake of that country’s years of chaos. Today at noon, Friday at 10 a.m., Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center.

JIM JACKSON: The fruits of 20 years of research on the topic, “The clown is a poet who is also an orangutan,” are displayed every time this accomplished funnyman takes the stage. In this production, he takes on fine art via the character of Mr. Art Guffaw, a house painter who is afraid of color and cannot draw a straight line. Today at noon, Friday at 10 a.m., Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at noon and 4 p.m. in Harold Prince Theatre, Annenberg Center.

TOM PAXTON: He’s been around since the ’60s Greenwich Village folk scene, but his songs continue to entertain, delight and comment on the state of the world today and influence a new generation of folksingers. Today at noon, Friday at 10 a.m., Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Iron Gate Theatre.

“ANTON”: Het Muziek Lod of Belgium presents this new play based on Fernand Auwera’s fairy tale about a young boy who’s had enough of fairy tales but gets caught up in one as he takes a walk through the woods. Today at noon, Friday at 10 a.m., Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at noon and 4 p.m. at International House, 3701 Chestnut St.

KIDS’ CORNER LIVE: Folk singer Tom Paxton joins host Kathy O’Connell for a special live edition of WXPN’s “Kids’ Corner” from the Zellerbach Theatre stage. Friday at 7 p.m. in Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center; also simulcast on WXPN (88.5 FM).

Wait, there’s more!

Along with the shows on the festival’s main stages, the free “StageWorks” performance area features jugglers, clowns, musicians and storytellers, and the “PlayWorks” area, free to those with a show ticket, features craft workshops in painting, basketmaking, puppetry, musical instruments and more. This year’s “StageWorks” stage is located at Sansom Common, on 36th St. between Sansom and Walnut; “PlayWorks” takes place on the Annenberg Center plaza off Locust Walk between 34th and 36th streets.

“StageWorks” performances run from 11 a.m. to noon today and tomorrow, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. “PlayWorks” takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and tomorrow, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Originally published on May 3, 2001