Children’s shows at center

Published 10:15 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Uncle Wiggily: Two Children’s Theatre of Hampton Roads actors perform a scene from the Uncle Wiggily show. The theater troupe performs at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts every first and third Saturday of each month.

A bucket of monkeys has spilled over in Suffolk recently, but Animal Control officers haven’t had much work to do chasing down the escapees.

The Bucket of Monkeys is the Children’s Theatre of Hampton Roads’ improvisational troupe, which has been performing every month at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

The Children’s Theatre has been conducting two performances at the cultural arts center every month. Upcoming performances include “Uncle Wiggily,” a scripted show that will be performed April 2, and the Bucket of Monkeys show on April 16.

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“It’s a wonderful, wonderful environment,” said Jessica Pinsky, managing director of the Children’s Theatre of Hampton Roads. “We have started what I hope will be a long-time partnership.”

The children’s theater was founded in 2005 at the 40th Street Stage in Norfolk, a venue that closed its doors in 2009. The theater is composed entirely of adult actors that perform plays for children.

But that doesn’t mean that children don’t participate in the plays. Young attendees get to dance at their seats and even volunteer to go on stage during the performances.

“It’s all very interactive with the kids and families,” Pinsky said.

Since the close of its Norfolk home, performances have been hosted by numerous venues throughout the area. The Suffolk Center has been included in the troupe’s regular schedule since last fall.

“We started out with a modest audience, but since then the word has been getting out, and we’ve been having a wonderful response from Suffolk,” Pinsky said.

The best response so far in Suffolk was for a play named “She Called Moses,” based on the life of Harriet Tubman.

“It is educational, but it’s also a lot of fun for the kids,” Pinsky said. “We had a wonderful response in Suffolk with that show. We’re really pleased with how far we’ve come in just a year.”

The Bucket of Monkeys improv shows are special favorites, she said.

“It’s very high-energy,” she said. “Everyone gets involved.”

The improv shows center around the theme of literary classics. Recent shows have featured Sinbad the Sailor and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

“It’s a way we can slip an educational slant into the show without the kids realizing what’s happening,” Pinsky said.

To help fit into children’s attention spans, none of the shows is more than an hour long. Every show is only $5 per ticket, which helps parents on a tight budget, Pinsky said.

Upcoming show “Uncle Wiggily,” about a kind old rabbit and his neighbor’s journey through the forest, will be shown at 11 a.m. on April 2. The next Bucket of Monkeys show will be held at 11 a.m. on April 16. Tickets can be purchased at the door. The center is located at 110 W. Finney Ave. For more information, call 923-2900.