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Today's Family Magazine

International Children’s Theater Festival returns to Playhouse Square

Apr 04, 2017 03:19PM ● By Today's Family
Each May, Playhouse Square brings the world to Cleveland through the International Children’s Theater Festival presented by University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.  The Festival offers children and families the opportunity to explore other cultures and enjoy the excitement of a visit to downtown Cleveland in a fun, welcoming environment.

This year’s International Children’s Theater Festival, which runs May 6-7, features four unique theater performances representing Australia, Canada and the United States. (See below for a list and detailed descriptions.)

In addition to the ticketed theater performances, Playhouse Square offers crafts and additional festival experiences free of charge.  Families can gather on U.S. Bank Plaza to watch an ordinary box truck evolve from the utilitarian into a reimagined space as Bridgman|Packer Dance performs Truck and dance along with Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players.

There also will be balloon and caricature artists, face painters and magicians waiting to delight and entertain.

Tickets for International Children’s Theater Festival performances are on sale now at the Playhouse Square ticket office (1510 Euclid Ave.), online at or by phone at 216-241-6000.  Tickets for each performance are $10-15.  Tickets for free activities are not required.

2017 International Children’s Theater Festival Performances
Grug and the Rainbow
Windmill Theatre

Grug began his life as the top of a Burrawang tree that fell to the ground. Resembling a small, striped haystack with feet and a nose, Grug is fascinated by the world around him and solves everyday problems creatively and without fuss. When dancing instructions are too difficult to understand, he invents his own dance and calls it “The Grug.” When snails eat his cabbages, Grug plants more cabbages so there will be enough for both him and the snails. Ted Prior’s hugely popular character is brought to life for this magical stage production for our very young theater lovers.

The Moon’s a Balloon
Patch Theatre Company

A balloon can be a friend to play with or a maker of friendships. It can hold its breath for days and disappear in an instant. It can make your hair stand on end and fill you with laughter. A balloon can be something loved or something lost; something shared or something broken. A balloon can be anything you need it to be. Inspired by a poem by e.e. cummings, The Moon’s a Balloon suggests that all sorts of possibilities reside in the simplest of things. Exploration, play and invention are at the heart of the way children make friends. The Moon’s a Balloon is a visual-theater production that celebrates the possibilities of play, the making of friendships, and the wonder of creation. Simple white balloons, two performers, and a musician can, through exploration, play and search for meaning, give rise to a rich variety of composition, beauty, laughter, wonder, joy, and story, and delight and inspire the hearts and minds of the audience.

Morgan’s Journey
Robert Morgan

Morgan’s Journey is a captivating exploration of joyous yet challenging childhood experiences and offers audiences a unique opportunity for active participation. From the moment of his birth, audiences follow Morgan the Clown on a journey of discovery, delighting in the presents he receives, especially his last one, a wise sock puppet who becomes his companion. Encountering inevitable growing pains, Morgan learns a valuable and moving lesson about love and the true meaning of friendship. This production, with a creative drama post-play experience, is the perfect show to transition your child into the world of theater. Morgan’s Journey, originally created by Robert Morgan and director David Craig in 1980, is now the longest-running touring play in Canadian history. It won the prestigious Chalmer’s Canadian Play Award for Outstanding Play and has rightly earned the description given to it, “a true Canadian classic.”

Pedal Punk
Cirque Mechanics

Enter the world of Pedal Punk, a Steampunk-inspired place where cycling is the way to escape the technology-obsessed society. In this production, featuring a 20-foot-high, pedal-powered mechanical masterpiece, the performers amaze with a heart-pounding pole drop, awesome aerial acts and high-flying tricks (on a trampoline!). In Pedal Punk we experience the excitement, artistry and thrill that occurs when a wacky bike shop mechanic interacts with cyclists and bikes; he repairs more than broken pieces. He creates wondrous machines and inspires the cyclist in all of us to become a “Pedal Punk.” With every spin of a sprocket and rattle of a wrench, the quirky cast of characters transforms a bevy of bikes into an astounding assortment or acrobatic apparatus in this adrenaline-fueled circus for the whole family.

Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players

Two-time GRAMMY Nominated Justin Roberts is truly one of the "all-stars" of the indie family music scene. For nearly 20 years, Roberts has been creating the soundtrack to families' lives, helping kids navigate the joys and sorrows of growing up and parents remember their own childhoods. Along with his band, The Not Ready for Naptime Players, they have travelled the globe, from Hong Kong to New York, and Miami to Seattle.

Bridgman|Packer Dance

Truck is designed to be performed inside a 17-foot U-Haul truck, bringing performance to nontraditional and unexpected locations. Through Bridgman|Packer’s signature integration of live performance and video technology, an ordinary box truck evolves from the utilitarian into a reimagined space, a micro-world of visions and transformation. Exploring how context changes perception, the work ranges from evocative to humorous, to sensuous, to wacky. Parts of Truck were created through a Fellowship with Experimental Film Virginia 2014.