Debut Performances Set Stage For International Children's Fest

PITTSBURGH | Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The North Side is set to welcome children of all ages and the puppet masters, acrobats, storytellers, singers and other performers who entertain them during the Pittsburgh International Children's Festival, which runs tomorrow through Sunday.

David Cooper The Axis Theatre Company of Canada will perform "The Number 14" at the Pittsburgh International Children's Festival, which opens tomorrow. Click photo for larger image.

The festival features seven first-time performances by professional groups from across the globe, and the activities double to 60 this year when the festival celebrates its 21st season at West Park and the surrounding areas.

"Kids are going to find some hilarious and exciting roving performers besides hands-on activities. ... All the programs are totally new in Pittsburgh and so exciting," said Andie Markijohn, marketing and outreach manager of Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, who expects at least 20,000 people to attend the festival.

The five straight days of entertainment also feature free admission to the National Aviary, a free outdoor KidStage that offers performances by amateur and professional acts, and more than 30 free hands-on educational and cultural activities, including activities for Girl Scouts to complete toward an official badge and three on-site workshops, including puppetry with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and acting with John Robert Powers. There's also a free shuttle to and from the Venture Outdoors Festival.

Ameritsa Theatre will be the first-ever Israeli group at the festival, performing the happy-go-lucky show, "Itamar Walks on Walls," about Itamar, a popular character in Israeli children's literature. When everyone is asleep at night, Itamar walks up the walls and into the pictures that decorate his room.

Groups from Denmark, Kenya and Canada join performers from the United States in the festival, one of only four international theater festivals for kids in the United States, according to festival officials.

"My Lunch Table," a new Pittsburgh production by Sunny Disney Fitchett of Little Lake Theatre, which tells the story of four students who become mismatched lunch mates, has its world premiere during the festival. Also, "'Goodbye Mr. Muffin' will be a very interesting show. It will have a live cellist on stage," Ms. Markijohn said about the Denmark production that gently touches on the sensitive subject of saying goodbye to a beloved pet.

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