Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol

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Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol

  • playing at Adventure Theatre MTC (Glen Echo, MD)
  • dates: now through January 1, 2015
  • directed by Jerry Whiddon
  • Roar Score: 5/5

Christmas is coming. This invariably means performances of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol are (or soon will be) everywhere. Children’s theater is no exception. I’ll admit that we went into Adventure Theatre’s production of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol expecting it to be a scaled-down, “family-friendly” version of Dickens’s classic story.

Thankfully, we were wrong.

This show is funny—refreshingly, surprisingly funny. It’s not something you really expect out of A Christmas Carol, but the sharp script and fantastic acting combine to present the funniest version of the story you’re likely to see outside of Bill Murray’s Scrooged.

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5 Questions with Abby Cadabby

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with the one and only Abby Cadabby, Sesame Street’s resident fairy-in-training. Be sure to also check out Zoey’s chat with the woman behind the voice, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph!

Believe it or not, Sesame Street has been on the air for 45 incredible years. It’s one of the few pieces of popular culture that has truly stood the test of time and become a touchstone for several generations. I grew up with it, and my children are growing up with it.

When you think about it, that’s amazing.

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5 Questions with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, the amazing Muppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby. Be sure to also check out Zoey’s chat with Abby!

Yes, Leslie is the voice and talent behind (under?) everyone’s favorite fairy-in-training, Abby Cadabby. Both Leslie and Abby debuted on Sesame Street in 2006 (Season 37), and Leslie has since gone on to voice several other characters.

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Avengers STATION

AvengersSTATION

The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N exhibit in Times Square is something I’ve been looking forward to seeing since it opened. However, first things first. That acronym? Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network. Of course.

Officially, the exhibit is “a completely immersive experience that brings visitors into the world of The Avengers. Visitors of all ages are granted S.H.I.E.L.D. access to the official S.T.A.T.I.O.N. headquarters and taken deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here visitors will have open access to a vast array of intelligence files, classified studies and experiments that explores the history and scientific origins of Marvel’s The Avengers.”

It’s important to note that this exhibit is almost exclusively based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’ve seen (and enjoy) the movies, then you’ll enjoy this exhibit. No comic book knowledge is required.

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5 Questions with Peter Beagle

PeterBeagle

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Peter Beagle, author of the classic The Last Unicorn.

Originally published in 1968, The Last Unicorn is a fantasy novel about a unicorn who thinks she is the last of her kind and sets out on a quest to discover what happened to the other unicorns. Along the way, she teams up with the magician Schmendrick, gets attacked by the demon Red Bull, becomes human, falls in love, attacks the villainous King Haggard, and saves the kingdom.

Not only is it a classic work of fantasy literature, but the 1982 Rankin-Bass animated film solidified its place in popular culture and became a classic for the 80s generation. Despite the fact that the novel has been in print for more than 45 years, for many people my age, the movie is the only version of the story they know.

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Sesame Place: The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular

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OK, so Halloween is technically behind us, and Sesame Place is already gearing up for A Very Furry Christmas. But I still wanted to post about The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular.

  • Reason #1: It was simply awesome.
  • Reason #2: It’ll be back next year. And the Internet is forever.
  • Reason #3: Did I mention that it was awesome?

We’ve been to Sesame Place several times this year. The kids (3 and 5) are the prime age for the park, and they just love it. We’re actually Busch Gardens Platinum Pass holders, which means we basically have season passes to all 11 of their parks (including Sesame Place, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and the water parks). We live about halfway between Sesame Place and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, so it’s a great deal.

This was our first time attending one of the special holiday events, though. Sesame Place is located just outside of Philadelphia, and as such, it gets cold weather. At the end of the summer, the park closes down and only reopens on the weekends through October and December for the Halloween and Christmas events.

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5 Questions with LEGO Master Builder Chris Steininger

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with LEGO Master Builder Chris Steininger.

“Master Builder” is one of those terms that you hear associated with LEGO bricks if you spend any time with them or reading about them. Especially now, after The LEGO Movie made the term so popular.

But few people really know what it means. Are they really like Emmet, Wildstyle, Vitruvius, and Batman? Do they have superpowers? Are they really able to stop Lord Business, destroy the Kragle, and save the universe?

Not quite. But they’re still incredibly cool. Case in point: Chris Steininger.

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The Princess in Black

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  • The Princess in Black
  • written by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale
  • illustrated by LeUyen Pham
  • published by Candlewick Press (2014)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when….wait a minute, wait a minute. Duchess Wigtower? How awesome a name is that? And it doesn’t end there.

How can you not love a book with a passage like this:

 In the courtyard, Frimplepants was nibbling an apple. He swished his sparkly tail. He pranced on his golden hooves. He gave the horn upon his brow a little toss.
 Clearly, Frimplepants was a unicorn.
 Or was he?

Stupendous! Isn’t the suspense killing you? Was he or wasn’t he a unicorn??

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5 Questions with G. Willow Wilson

G Willow Wilson

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with G. Willow Wilson: author of the ongoing Ms. Marvel series with Marvel Comics.

I should probably preface this with a brief history of how and why Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) found her way home with us. Luckily, I’ve already written about that. So please go read about it here. Go on. I’ll wait for you.

It should therefore go without saying that when Zoey found out the woman responsible for writing and bringing Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel to life was going to be at New York Comic-Con, she was right up there at the top of the list of people she wanted to meet.

If Zoey’s costume hadn’t given it away, she’s still very much a huge fan of the series, 9 issues (and 9 months) in. As am I.

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The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty

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  • The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty
  • by Karla Strambini
  • published by Candlewick Press (2014)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Books about the imagination are almost a surefire win in my house. Kids usually don’t need much encouragement to use and get lost in their imaginations, but I’m still a sucker for books that embrace the imagination as the wondrous playground it is.

The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty runs with this idea but presents a conundrum for the reader: What if you were embarrassed by your imagination?

What if you had exceedingly “strange” ideas? What if they were so strange that you thought other people would laugh at you for even thinking them in the first place? Would people then think that you, too, were strange?

Would you, like Mr. Qwerty, end up feeling alone?

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5 Questions with Kazu Kibuishi

KazuKibuishi

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Kazu Kibuishi: artist, author, and creator of the Amulet series of graphic novels.

Not since Bone was Zoey so immediately taken with a book and its world. Almost instantly, she attached to 12-year-old Emily and her adventure. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you’ve read any of the Amulet books, you already know that it’s a gripping story that’s superbly written and breathtakingly illustrated.

It’s not often I hear audible gasps and genuine surprise and concern when reading comics and graphic novels to her. Amulet, however, leaves her breathless. We read through the first book in a single sitting, and there was no looking back.

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Cirque du Soleil: Dralion

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(Dralion is currently playing at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA, through Sunday, October 26. Buy tickets here.)

Let me begin by saying that I thought we had never seen Dralion before. Halfway through the show, we realized that we had. (The clown act gave it away for us.) That’s how many different Cirque du Soleil shows we’ve seen. We’re in the double digits now.

To say we’re fans is putting it mildly.

For the purposes of this site, please feel free to check out our visit to International Headquarters in Montreal and our review of the touring show Varekai.

Dralion is one of the longest-running Cirque du Soleil shows (if not the longest-running). It premiered in 1999 and has been touring the world for the past 15 years. Sadly, though, the show will come to an end next year, ending this impressive run.

Therefore, if you want to see this one and it’s coming near you soon, I’d highly recommend you catch it before it’s gone forever.

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Upcoming: Cirque du Soleil: Dralion

show_dralionCirque du Soleil’s touring show Dralion is coming to Charlottesville, VA—and just in time for homecoming at the University of Virginia!

If you’ve read The Roarbots for any length of time, you know that we’re fans of Cirque du Soleil. Check out the recap of our tour through International Headquarters in Montreal and our review of another touring show—Varekai.

Dralion premiered in 1999 and has been going strong (in front of some 11 million people) ever since. Similar to Varekai, the show began its life under the big top but is now performed in arenas. If our experience with Varekai is any judge, they haven’t sacrificed quality at all to make this transition.

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LEGO KidsFest

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I’ve been to a lot of different conventions in my life: comic book conventions, book expos, Star Trek conventions. Until recently, I’d never been to a LEGO convention.

It was awesome.

Well, calling it a “convention” is sort of a misnomer. There’s only one exhibitor—LEGO—and it’s far more fun than your typical convention. It’s more like a huge LEGO playground. Their official marketing copy actually calls it “a hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza.” And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

LEGO KidsFest is a traveling show that’s been on tour since 2009, but it only makes seven North American stops each year. It also has a history of selling out well in advance. Therefore, if it comes anywhere near you, I highly suggest you make every effort to go.

We attended the event in Richmond, VA, which is a solid 3-hour drive for us from DC. I regret nothing.

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Ticket Giveaway – Disney On Ice: Frozen

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Yeah, I’m gonna do it: Frozen is still hot.

The newest Disney on Ice show from Feld Entertainment is themed entirely around the gang from Arendelle. The Academy Award winning tale will be told live for the first time in this production, and it will of course include Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf.

And yes, all the songs are also included, so you can go home humming “Let It Go” all over again.

The show isn’t a straight-up retelling of the movie, though. It’s hosted by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by some of the Disney Princesses and characters from Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King.

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New York Comic-Con 2014 Cosplay Roundup

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This past weekend was New York Comic-Con. To say there were a lot of people there is an understatement. There were an estimated 150,000+ people, which officially makes it bigger than San Diego Comic-Con—the granddaddy of all cons.

With that many people, there was undoubtedly a lot of great cosplay. I didn’t get pictures of nearly as many costumes as I would have liked. But I did manage to round up some of the great ones.

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Hansel and Gretel

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  • Hansel & Gretel
  • written/adapted by Neil Gaiman
  • illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti
  • published by Toon Books (Candlewick Press) (2014)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

They reached a river, and their father showed them where to ford it, where the river was shallow and the rocks stuck up from the water. They shook off their shoes, and they carried them until they reached the far bank, where the trees were thick, and old, and gnarled into shapes that looked like angry giants, frozen in time.

“Hansel and Gretel” is one of those stories that seems older than time. It is one of the most recognized of the Grimms’ fairy tales, yet it still remains unfamiliar. Elusive. Intangible.

Perhaps that’s because there have been so many different versions over the years. Tamer versions that smooth over some of the “unpleasant” aspects of the original. Children’s versions that soften the witch into someone more likable or change the parents’ roles entirely. Modern Hollywood versions that imagine the title characters as badass monster hunters.

Ask most kids nowadays, and their impression of the story more than likely centers on the witch’s candy house. “Hansel and Gretel” has, through the years, become known as a lighthearted romp through the woods to a Willy Wonka-style candy house.

Leave it to master storyteller Neil Gaiman, then, to bring us back to the story’s dark, gruesome, and haunting roots.

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5 Questions with Ben Hatke

Hatke

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Ben Hatke: artist, author, and creator of the Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels.

From page 1 of Zita the Spacegirl, Zoey was hooked. It’s got all the makings of a classic in this house: strong and spunky female protagonist, funky-looking aliens and creatures, amazing art, and an engaging adventure story. It’s basically everything Zoey loves all packaged together into one book.

Two subsequent books–Legends of Zita the Spacegirl and The Return of Zita the Spacegirl–round out the trilogy, and all three are published by the simply stellar First Second Books.

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5 Questions with Andy Runton

AndyRunton

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Andy Runton, creator of the Owly comics.

If you’re not familiar with the Owly books….first of all, shame on you! Second of all, you’re in for a real treat. They’re a blast of adorable.

They’re (mostly) wordless graphic novels that focus on a little owl with huge eyes and the adventures he has with his friends–mostly his friend Wormy. The stories rely on expressions and symbols for the narrative, which make them absolutely perfect for the youngest readers.

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The Night Fairy

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The Night Fairy

  • playing at Imagination Stage (Bethesda, MD)
  • dates: now through October 26, 2014
  • directed by Jeremy Skidmore
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Flory is a Night Fairy who is attacked by a bat. When her wings are damaged in the struggle, she is forced to learn how to survive in the daylight among the other birds and animals in a typical backyard. During her adventures, Flory makes new friends and eventually reconciles with her foe. By the time her wings begin to sprout back, Flory has discovered a renewed sense of creativity, diplomacy, and resilience that she never knew she had.

It’s no secret that we love Imagination Stage. We’ve been to nearly every show since Zoey was old enough to sit still, and her favorite play ever was an Imagination Stage production (Anime Momotaro–which also happens to be the best children’s theater performance I’ve ever seen).

Upon first seeing The Night Fairy poster at a performance of The BFG, Zoey was hooked. She had to see it.

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