Arts on the Horizon, an educational non-profit organization founded in 2011, aims to engage, respect and cultivate the younger set with professional theater productions. We were eager to see their latest performance, Adventures with Mr. Bear, geared toward children ages 2 to 5.
If you arrive before the show time, families are first set up in a room next to the theater with a variety of free play options. Wiggly, excited children have the opportunity to start their theater experience off with hands-on fun and social interactions in this playroom. It’s a fantastic way to set the stage. My daughter, age 3, especially loved that she was asked to bring her favorite stuffed animal to this production. Before the show she enjoyed having a tea party with her bunny and other children.
As the show time nears, audience members are guided into the low-lit theater room next door. The theater is not intimidating and very intimate as the seating is on the floor, very close to the stage. Jacy Barber (Set/Props/Costume Designer) presents a set that is powerful, but not overwhelming with just the right amount of details to spark imagination. The set is colorful, intriguing, and yet simple enough for the younger set to grab a hold of during the 30-minute production.
Written and directed by Ryan Sellers, Adventures with Mr. Bear is an imaginative masterpiece about a young girl, Jayden (played by Amanda Forstrom) who takes the audience on an adventure with Mr. Bear (played by Jacob Yeh). The level of creative play and joy that Jayden finds on her journey with Mr. Bear is uncanny. Using only sound effects and simple props to enhance the story, Mr. Bear and Jayden captivate the audience as they overcome boredom, fear and bumps along the way. Paige Rammelkamp (musician) was remarkable and spot-on as she provided sound effects and the musical depth of the show. After the show, families are given take-home craft project ideas related to the concepts in the performance. Performers are also available for meet and greet in the hallway.
Adventures with Mr. Bear reminded me of the power of simplicity – umbrellas used as a dragon, fabric draped for mountains, a foam mat turned into a boat. As my 3 year old sat watching with bright eyes and a smile on her face, I couldn’t help but think about how powerful the beauty of creative play is to a child. With technology being at the forefront of all we do, Adventures with Mr. Bear reminds us that it is OK, if not necessary, to plug into our imaginations, to find joy and comfort through the eyes of our children. Tickets are selling out fast so be sure to secure your show time before it’s too late.
Many performances are sold out, but tickets are available as of today for the following performances at The Lab at Convergence:
- Friday, December 9 at 10:30 a.m.
- Tuesday, December 13 at 10:30 a.m.
- Wednesday, December 14 at 10:30 a.m.
- Thursday, December 15 at 10:30 a.m.
- Saturday, December 17 at 11:30 a.m.
If you can’t make those dates, fret not, as Adventures with Mr. Bear heads over to the Atlas Performing Arts Center December 18 to 30, 2016 for 10 shows.
- Tickets are $9 for children and adults and can be purchased online or at the door on the day of performance. Children under 12 months old are admitted free of charge. Military Rate: $6 per ticket in Virginia.
- This production is best suited for ages 2 to 6.
- Running time: 30 minutes
- Bathrooms are easily accessible from the theater area.
- Photographs and videos are not permitted during the performance.
- Parking is available in the surrounding lots.