The very first stage production I can recall involved a dragon belching smoke and a lot of mosquitoes. It was the 1970’s and I was about four. My mother and a few other culturally-minded parents had taken a group of us to the Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theatre and while I don’t remember much beyond the green dragon and a lot of shouting, I do remember wiggling with anticipation for the show to start and dropping my mouth wide open when the characters appeared on the wooden stage under a grove of cedar trees.
I was transfixed.
That’s what the Anchorage Concert Association calls “ins-pir-tain.” That’s a verb that means to simultaneously inspire and entertain through the performing arts, and it can be done anywhere, even on vacation.
Alaska is fortunate to have quite a list of local theatre companies and concert associations providing a healthy dose of inspirtain, much to the benefit of residents. Over the years we’ve taken AK Kid to everything from community shows in tiny towns to Broadway productions, and as the little boy grows into a teenager, we’ve noticed a maturity of his appreciation for theatre, too.
I’ve watched the preschooler drop his own jaw when costumed creatures from the Lion King appeared in the aisles of the Alaska Center For the Performing Arts, staring with awe at characters he previously knew only from film come to life.
Last winter he accompanied us to a showing of Billy Elliot the Musical and came away thoughtfully pondering what it means to be yourself at 12. It was a fitting segue for last week’s production of Cinderella during which a completely novel approach to an old fairy tale carried the now-teenager into a discussion about finding one’s place in this world.
Here’s what you can do: No matter where you travel, seek out local theatres, youth companies and concerts to enrich your vacation from the inside out. Be entertained. Be present with your children.
It is an opportunity, and not just for you.
A few other theatre resources in Alaska: