Acrobatic frogs, Robin Hood, and a glow-in-the-dark ballet troupe astonishing children and parents alike, the Englert Family Series strives to both dazzle and educate. The series was launched in Fall 2013 to provide low-cost, high-quality entertainment that would appeal to audience members age 4 to 104.
Katie Roche, Englert Development Director and a parent of two, said she knows children’s programming isn’t always as pleasant for the parents as it is for their children. The Family Series is instead meant to be accessible, exciting, and appropriate for kids, while also enjoyable for parents.
“If multiple generations can enjoy a cultural event together, that shared experience moves from our stage into a conversation at bedtime or around the dinner table, inspires them to see more quality family programming, and sets children up for a lifetime of appreciation for the arts,” said Roche.
After the series pilot, Visible Fiction’s Jason and the Argonauts, the 2014 spring series launched with Imago Theater’s dance-circus hybrid FROGZ!, followed by an electroluminescent light show by “America’s Got Talent” semi-finalist Lightwire Theatre, and Terrapin Puppet Theatre’s heartwarming multimedia theatrical presentation of Love.
The series was well attended, both Lightwire Theatre and FROGZ! filling over 60 percent of the theater’s capacity. An important aspect of the series is accessibility, especially for families whose contact with the arts may be hindered by admission fees. FROGZ! offered discounted $10 tickets and admission to Love was only $5 per person. The Englert gave away 800 free tickets to the underserved over the course of the series.
Roche said she hopes to continue to find support for The Family Series from ticket buyers as well as donors and businesses who understand that through their financial support, every child in the community can enjoy the best family programming.
“We are a community that works hard to create the best possible outcomes for our children, but cuts to arts education and other arts programs have created less opportunities for our kids to engage with quality programming,” she said. “The Englert Family Series will continue to fill that gap and raise the bar for what great family programming should look like.”
According to Englert Executive Director Andre Perry, the series strives to find a balance between family and education, and pushing the boundaries of what children and families have seen before.
“We’re looking for shows that are dazzling as well as educational and relevant to the state of the community,” Perry said. “La Maleta, for example, is relevant in a growing Spanish-speaking landscape.”
The recently-announced 2015 Englert Family Series includes the Peking Acrobats on February 4; La Maleta, a co-production with Hancher Auditorium on February 27 incorporating Spanish and English, giving voice to young people struggling to learn a new language and culture; and the timeless story of Robin Hood on April 28-29 by Visible Fictions, the same international theater group that produced Jason and the Argonauts.