Kids can take a little convincing that people in costume aren’t scary, but fun — and Portland’s rich collection of children’s theater companies offer just the introduction they need. And kids already under the spell of the stage will delight in fantastical productions featuring acrobats, puppets and more.
Northwest Children’s Theater offers vibrant, accessible productions, often based on classic books, that can be enjoyed by kids as young as four. Oregon Children’s Theatre aims a bit older, dabbling in rock opera and exploring world affairs. Shaking the Tree, a small space with minimal production values, favors wistful and thought-provoking shows for mature-thinking children. All three of these companies also offer summer camps for blossoming performers.
The beloved kids’ shows at Imago Theatre feature acrobatic actors dressed as frogs, cats and a menagerie of other creatures who dance, mime, delight and surprise. These wordless performances are equally appropriate for viewers who don’t speak English. And don’t underestimate puppets; Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre productions are well outside the box, with large, articulated marionettes that often overtake the whole stage and act alongside people.