I’m the first to admit that I’ve only recently developed an appreciation for the performing arts. Probably because I am tone deaf and have no rhythm, I never sought out performances other than a holiday show her or there. In fact, my sister would argue that I was the worst spectator in the audience at all her high school concerts and plays. Which is why it may be surprising that now that I’m a parent, my family are regular attendees at local shows.
My oldest son, Eli, was just 2 when he attended his first show, a Youtheatre performance of Winnie the Pooh, at First Presbyterian Church in Findlay. One of the best things about Youtheatre performances is that not only are they performed by children, but they are also designed to entertain them. Even at 2 our son sat and watched the entire show. Sure, there was lap hopping and popcorn bribery, but he watched the entire show. And he spent the next few days playing with his Pooh toys, exclaiming when we drove by the church, and babbling about “the kids”. And our toddler wasn’t the only one impressed with the Youtheatre performers. I remember going to Youtheatre’s website after the show to confirm the young performers age – some of them were as young as third grade!
Youtheatre performances are a great introduction to live shows, even more so now that Youtheatre is held at Marathon Center for the Performing Arts (MCPA) on the big stage. That first Youtheatre show gave all of us the theatre bug – and we haven’t stopped attending shows as a family since then.
When MCPA opened their doors in 2015 I knew it would become a favorite spot for our family, especially when the family series was introduced. The Family Series are shows that are specifically designed for the kids in your life. Colorful and fun, these shows are about a hour long and meant to be entertaining to both kids and adults. While at a normal show you may be expected to sit quietly and watch, these shows know their audience so it is okay to get the wiggles out, laugh and sing along, and even dance in the aisles.
I’m not saying anything new when I say the pandemic has stolen so many moments from us. My heart broke a little when my sons and I drove by MCPA during the peak of the pandemic and my youngest, Grant, asked what the building was for. While his brother remembers many of the shows we’ve attended, he had no recollection. But, if you’re wondering the impact of the arts, Eli quickly told him of the magic of MCPA and the shows they’ve seen, even if his little brother might not remember them.
Grant attended his first family series show (that he remembers!) last month and now he’s been bitten by the bug like we were 6 years ago. After settling in with his popcorn and juice box (even the concessions are family-friendly!) he settled in for the show. He can be shy, so when he moved from my side to the front to dance with the band it was a big deal. On our way home we jammed to the music we just listened to live and he spent the rest of the night telling his dad and brother about the concert.
When I was looking at photos from the shows we’ve attended at MCPA I can visually see our kids growing up, each age and stage marked at a performance. I know we are giving them a foundation for an appreciation of the arts I hope they carry with them their entire lives. My husband and I make attending shows with our kids a priority because we can see the long-term benefits, as well as short-term. Short-term, these shows give us entertainment and a topic to talk about together. Long-term, we know we are exposing them to people, stories, language, and perspective that they may not discover otherwise.
I’m not sure if they will be on stage like the Youtheatre kids that started our family’s Findlay Arts journey, but I know they will at least be in the audience cheering them on. You can see the upcoming Family Series shows at MCPA here, and learn more about Youtheatre here. View all of MCPA’s upcoming shows (whether you take the kids or not!) here.
This blog post is written by Visit Findlay Community Relations and Development Manager Danielle Wilkin. Danielle is a reality TV aficionado, frequent Downtown diner, and a busy mom! That isn’t much, is it? See more about Danielle and read more from her here!