Let the fun times begin


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Before there was Pokémon, there was Kitaro. Japan's premier puppet theater brings the popular animated character, his comrades and his adversaries to life in Ge Ge Ge No Kitaro at this years Philadelphia International Childrens Festival. (That eyeball in the middle is Kitaros father, by the way.)

Pity the poor grownups. They have to wait three more weeks before their summer fun begins. The kids, on the other hand, get to start theirs right now.

Thats because the 16th annual Philadelphia International Childrens Festival is now under way at the Annenberg Center. The festival, the oldest and largest of its kind in the United States, showcases childrens theater, music and dance from all around the world at family-friendly prices.

In addition to the featured performances listed below, there will be plenty of free, fun activities for kids of all ages in the festivals outdoor spaces.

This years StageWorks features the Give and Take Jugglers, storyteller Cynthia Joba and the female a cappella group, Voices of Africa, performing from 11 a.m. to noon today and Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

In the PlayWorks area, professional craftspeople help kids create paintings, baskets, musical instruments, puppets, quilts, murals and more. The PlayWorks area, which is free with a ticket from any performance, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

And a special exhibit this year in the Annenberg Center lobby, Children at Play, features winning photographs from UNESCOs 19th Photo Contest in Asia and the Pacific.

This years feature presentations are:

square.gifAFRICAN AMERICAN DANCE ENSEMBLE: Peace, love and respect for everyone is the message founder/director Chuck Davis delivers as his troupe engages the audience in a celebration of community, culture and African traditions. Thursday, May 4 at 10 a.m., Friday, May 5 at noon, Saturday, May 6 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 2 and 4 p.m. in Zellerbach Theatre.

square.gifCATHY & MARCY: The country/ folk duo of Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer have developed a huge following among the under-10 set and their parents, with music that entertains and educates. Thursday, May 4 and Friday, May 5 at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 6 at 10 a.m. and noon, and Sunday, May 7 at 2 p.m. at the Iron Gate Theatre, 3700 Chestnut St. Cathy & Marcy will also appear on a special live broadcast of WXPNs Kids Corner with host Kathy OConnell Friday, May 5 at 7 p.m. in Zellerbach Theatre.

square.gifTHE MAN, CHOPIN AND THE LONG WINTER: An obnoxious mouse, a cupboard come to life and the music of Chopin bring a lonesome recluse out of his shell in this play from Quebecs Théatre du Gros Mécano. Thursday, May 4 at 10 a.m., Friday, May 5 at noon, Saturday, May 6 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 2 p.m. in Harold Prince Theatre.

square.gifTHE BEAUTY MACHINE: A miraculous invention transforms the residents of a quiet village into models of perfection, with disastrous results, in this play presented by Vancouvers Green Thumb Theatre for Young People. Thursday, May 4 at noon, Friday, May 5 at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 at noon and 4 p.m. in Harold Prince Theatre.

square.gifCIRCO COMEDIA: The Vancouver duo of Smythe and Saucier serve up fast-paced physical comedy in a circus-style show that combines equal parts of magic and absurdity. Thursday, May 4 at noon, Friday, May 5 at 10 a.m. and noon, Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 at noon and 2 p.m. in Studio Theatre.

square.gifGE GE GE NO KITARO: Japans Puppet Theatre Hitomi-Za brings a popular Japanese cartoon character, the phantom boy Kitaro, to the stage in an entertaining morality play that pits him against the evil creations of a mad scientist and a Japanese prime minister. Thursday, May 4 at noon, Friday, May 5 at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 6 at noon and 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at noon in Zellerbach Theatre.

square.gifSAIGON WATER PUPPET THEATRE: The 21-member ensemble brings a 1000-year-old Vietnamese art form to Western audiences with a fantastic tale featuring jumping fish, fabulous peacocks and real fire-breathing dragons. Thursday, May 4 and Friday, May 5 at noon, Saturday, May 6 at 2 and 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 4 p.m. at the Iron Gate Theatre.

As always, tickets to the first show are $9 each, and tickets for additional shows are $5 each up to the number purchased for the first show. For tickets and information, visit www.annenbergcenter.org or call 215-898-3900.

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Originally published on May 4, 2000