2012 Children’s Performing Arts Series

For MOM magazine

For thousands of Albany school children and their parents each year, quality time includes five Saturday mornings of live entertainment at Linn-Benton Community College. The Children's Performing Arts Series, presented by Albany Parks & Recreation Department, opens its 26th season on January 21.

CPAS has reached an average of 5,000 children each year for the last four years. Performers - musicians, puppeteers, theater troupes, animals, magicians, acrobats - take their acts to two Albany elementary schools on a Friday, then perform for the public in the Forum at LBCC on Saturday. Seventeen local sponsors this year help ensure that the performances remain free of charge, though donations are always welcome.

Janel Bennett started attending when her oldest daughter was three; she now brings two daughters, ages 5 and 8.

"I feel it is important for them to be exposed to performing arts," Bennett said. 
 Shane and Paige Wooton have been attending CPAS programs since their kids were little; they're now 9, 11 and 13. "We believe a child is better off if they have a diverse appreciation of the arts," Shane Wooton said. "It is great family entertainment and the price is right."

Bennett said she asks other moms and their kids to attend the performances with her and her daughters; husband Matt works during the day, though he's made time to see a couple performances by the Chinese Acrobats, a crowd favorite and a highlight for the Wootons as well.

Jane Long also likes the acrobats. She and her husband have been attending CPAS with their grandchildren for four years. She believes children may gain an awareness of different cultures through the series. "Children learn through exposure," Long said.

 "It's great for kids if they see something that might be a little bit scary for them in a performance," Bennett said. "They observe how the situation is handled by the characters and find ways to solve their problems and overcome their fears. They learn about decisions that have consequences and how they can make other people feel. They learn about conflict resolution from what they see onstage."

 Bennett and her girls have lunch after the Saturday morning shows and talk about what they have seen. "I love listening to them talk about how something made them feel or their favorite part of the show," she said.

Bennett especially enjoys performances by Tears of Joy Theater, frequently a part of the series. Their performance of "Stellaluna" has been her best series experience so far, she said.

"After we saw 'Stellaluna,' the girls wanted to read the book and then talk about how the book was different from the play," she said. "After we watched 'Rumpelstiltskin,' we talked about the choices the characters made and how they would have made different choices. It is great for dialog with your kids about good and bad decisions and how they affect others."

 "Kids love action and drama," Long said. "I enjoy the performers who include the audience."

Wooton said he takes his whole family to CPAS shows. "Most of the acts are great for all ages. We generally enjoy the programs just as much as the kids," he said.

Bennett sees broad benefit to the community from the annual series.

 "It gives children from lower-income families the chance to have a seat in a performance that they may not have had the opportunity to see without the generosity of donors," Bennett said. "Our schools are struggling as well and are no longer offering art and music. This may be the only chance some of these kids get to see a play or hear live music.

 "I don't know of a lot of other towns that have children's performances of this quality and since it is free, anyone can attend. You even get crayons and a coloring page as an added bonus."

 For more information about the Children's Performing Arts Series, call 541-917-7777 or visit http://www.cityofalbany.net/parks/cpas/ 

2012 Children's Performing Arts Series

All performances at 10 a.m. in the Forum at LBCC, 6500 Pacific Boulevard SW, Albany.

  • January 21: Valentine's Performing Pigs - as seen on Animal Planet, National Geographic, The Late Show with David Letterman and other venues.
  • February 4: Angel Ocasio - comedy, juggling, and magic in English and Spanish
  • February 18: The Alphabeticians - fun, upbeat, original kids music for the whole family.
  • March 3: Red Yarn Puppet Band - folk music, puppetry, and storytelling
  • March 17: Henrick Bothe - juggling, magic, laughter and "Neon Man."

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