The Friendliest Way to Introduce Your Kids to Live Theatre: Lightning Banjo Productions

This past March break Lightning Banjo Productions, a husband and wife team based out of The Registry Theatre, put on Cinderella: CEO. Uproarious laughter from parents, and kids begging to go back and see it again made the show, in the eyes of this eyeGO blogger, a resounding success. But this post isn’t so much a review of the show, as an endorsement of Lightning Banjo’s kid-friendly strategy. If you’re thinking about introducing your young children to the world of live theatre, but aren’t sure where to start in the Waterloo region, this post is for you.

As a disclaimer, I have seen, or worked on, almost every Lightning Banjo show. So this post comes from a place of direct involvement and raging fan.

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Lightning Banjo is becoming known for engaging young audiences with activities that go beyond sitting and watching. Occasional pantomime style interactions with the audience, and invitations for little ones to dash up onto the stage give them opportunities to move and make noise which really help in severe cases of the wriggles. Each performance is carefully paced to capture and keep attention. From the ground up, from sourcing or writing the play, to the music, costumes, and direction Lightning Banjo focuses on creating an experience full of excitement and teachable moments. They are getting very good at keeping bums in seats for the hour running time.

With jokes for parents, original music, and for the last few shows, a live violinist on stage with the actors, everyone in the family can find something to love about a Lightning Banjo show. Amy Neufeld, half of the team, writes some of the shows herself including Cinderella CEO. She likes to take classic fairy tales and put a twist on them that presents alternatives to princesses and damsels in distress. The women in Lightning Banjo plays are heroes, villains, and sometimes CEOs, who are ultimately in command of their own fate.

If you want to check out what Amy has to say, we did an interview with her right on this blog!

Sam Varteniuk, the other half of the team, directed Cinderella CEO and loves to help get the audience in the mood with his humorous introductions.

From the moment you walk in the door, Lightning Banjo finds ways to engage and welcome you. If you want an experience that will keep your family coming back over and over again, I highly recommend checking out Lightning Banjo and keeping an eye out for their next show, a reprise of their well received Charlotte’s Web. Their annual shows include March Break and Christmas, so keep checking back during holiday seasons.

Posted in: Tidbits and Musings

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