Introducing Your Child to the Theatre at the Shaw Festival
I love attending plays and this was a huge part of my childhood. My parents took us to Beauty and the Beast, ballet, Phantom of the Opera and so many more fantastic live shows. I love the architecture of the theatres, the thrill in the audience and the raw emotions from the actors. Sometimes I feel as though children are not encouraged to attend because they have shorter attention spans or they may act out. While this can be true at times, you should always encourage them to attend with you. These are social experiences that will last with them for a long time. One of the best places to experience live theatre is at the Shaw Festival!
Here are some helpful tips for your child’s first visit to a live play:
Arrive early and walk around the city. Niagara on the Lake is stunning in the summer months with the flowers and scenery, so take advantage of this with your child. Pack a lunch to enjoy in one of the parks or try out one of the fabulous restaurants that line Queen Street. This walk really helped our youngest burn a lot of energy while allowing us to see lots of beautiful architecture in the city as well as the lake.
Visit the local shops along Queen Street. We found so many unique shops and this one particular shop really caught the attention of both of our boys with the wind chimes. They fell in love! We spent twenty minutes in this store alone and they came home with a special chime just for them to remember the day.
Niagara on the Lake is rich in history and everywhere you turn there is a sign or flag to display that heritage. Why not really make it a day and visit Fort George for an hour or two? During the War of 1812, Fort George served as the headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army. This was an important part of our trip as well as we were able to blend some education value into this stop as well as having fun walking around the site (and pretending to shoot cannons!).
The doors to the Royal George open an hour early, so make sure you get in there and take some time to relax in the downstairs lobby. Use this time to make sure your children go to the bathroom, get a small snack and maybe something to drink. The boys loved the mini stage and tables that were set around it. We enjoyed some cool, quiet time before the show started.
The play will make your trip so research what you will see and talk about it with your children. We attended Peter and the Starcatcher, which was fantastic and was a perfect fit for our family! It was full of humour, action and adventure. At one point our youngest was so involved in the action scenes with the Black Stache that he called out no when he was attacking Peter. It was adorable to watch how involved they were in the play and to me this is what theatre is all about, drawing you in to the raw emotions and feelings of the play. The actors in Peter and the Starcatcher did an amazing job drawing you and keeping you entertained throughout the whole two hours. We did not want the show to end!
End your day with ice cream! We stopped in at the Il Gelato di Carlotta, which serves the most divine gelato! I had the Dolce Vita and was in love at first bite. This was the perfect way for us to celebrate the wonderful day we had. Not only is their gelato delicious, they also source all of their fresh fruit from local farms (a win win in my mind!).
The Shaw Festival is the perfect opportunity for you to introduce your child to live theatre, which will be an experience they will not forget!
What other tips can you offer to parents taking their child to live theatre for the first time?
Disclosure: I received tickets to Peter and the Starcatcher. All opinions expressed are my own.