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10 Reasons to Attend the International Children’s Theater Festival!

Published May 1st, 2017 by | Comments Off on 10 Reasons to Attend the International Children’s Theater Festival!

We have a million reasons why you should attend the International Children’s Theater Festival on May 6-7, and we were able to narrow it down to 10 to get you started. Enjoy!

1. It is first and foremost family friendly

This festival is a place for BOTH you and your children to dance, play and have fun, so stop by and unleash your inner child! What better way to introduce your children to the world of theater than through the International Children’s Theater Festival at Playhouse Square?

2. Pedal Punk

This show is featuring a 20-foot-high, pedal-powered mechanical masterpiece, where the performers will leave you amazed with a heart-pounding pole drop, awesome aerial acts and high-flying tricks (on a trampoline!).

3. The Moon’s a Balloon

A balloon can be a friend to play with or a maker of friendships. The Moon’s a Balloon visual theater production is inspired by a poem by e.e. cummings which suggests all sorts of possibilities reside in the simplest of things.

4. Balloons, face painting & magicians

Need we say more? These free actives and stations will be taking place throughout the weekend. Click here to see our complete schedule of shows and activities.

5. Grug and the Rainbow

Meet Grug, as he begins his life on the top of a Burrawang tree that fell to the ground. Resembling a small, striped haystack with feet and a nose, Grug is fascinated by the world around him and solves everyday problems creatively and without fuss.

6. Morgan’s Journey

You will embark on a journey of discovery, in Morgan’s Journey, when Morgan the clown, delighted in the presents he receives, finds a wise sock puppet who becomes his companion.

7. Visit the passport stations and get a taco! 

There will be passport stations, sponsored by Talespinner Children’s Theatre, containing incredible masks, beautiful costumes & more. And upon finishing your journey at each station your little ones can enjoy a FREE taco at Puente Viejo, located at 1220 Huron Rd! (*Tacos will be only be awarded to children with completed passports.)

8. The Junkyard & Truck

Enter an immersive experience in a world of re-imagined recyclables, where travelers will create and personalize crafts to be used as they travel through The Junkyard. Then, through Bridgman Packer’s signature integration of live performance and video technology, an ordinary 17- foot U-Haul box truck will evolve from the utilitarian into a re-imagined space, a micro-world of visions and transformation in Truck.

9. Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players

The two-time Grammy nominee, Justin Roberts is truly one of the “all-stars” of the indie family music scene. See his free performances on the U.S. Bank Plaza!

10 .Your favorite downtown destination

Enjoy your time in our historic theaters, delicious restaurants and don’t forget to take your photo underneath the GE chandelier!


For more information about the International Children’s Theater Festival, click here.

Until then we’ll see you May 6-7!

Get to Know: Grug and The Rainbow

Published March 29th, 2017 by | Comments Off on Get to Know: Grug and The Rainbow

Experience a world of live performance as Playhouse Square presents its 8th Annual International Children’s Theater Festival, May 6-7, 2017. The festival will give your children and grandchildren an unique enriching live theater experience with performances from around the world, free fun activities and so much more. Click here to learn more about the International Children’s Theater Festival!

One of these amazing shows featured at this year’s festival is, Grug and the Rainbow. Based on the much loved picture book character created by Ted Prior, and brought to you by the Windmill Theatre company from Australia, Grug is perfect for ages 3-6, and fun for the whole family!

Ted Prior’s hugely popular character, Grug, is brought to life for our very young theatre lovers as he begins his life on the top of a Burrawang tree that fell to the ground. Resembling a small, striped haystack with feet and a nose, Grug is fascinated by the world around him and solves everyday problems creatively and without fuss.

When dancing instructions are too difficult to understand, he invents his own dance and calls it ‘The Grug’, and when snails eat his cabbages, Grug plants more cabbages so there will be enough for both him and the snails. This beloved production is a must see!

Grug and the Rainbow will be featured in the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre on Saturday, May 6 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and on Sunday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m. 

Ticket are only $15 and can be purchased here.

10 Things Children Gain from Theater

Published March 19th, 2014 by | Comments Off on 10 Things Children Gain from Theater

Theater is a thrilling, creative, mind-opening experience for all of us, but what exactly can theater contribute to the lives of our children? In honor of “World Theatre for Children and Young People Day”, here are 10 solid reasons to involve your child in theater:

 1. Imagination

Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Theater fosters your child’s imagination by transporting them to another space and time. They begin to realize anything they can imagine can come to life through art.

 2. Laughter

Humor makes everything better. Theater brings learning to life by making it engaging and exciting!

 3. Curiosity

Children are naturally curious. Theater causes children to question even more, which helps them form their own decisions and opinions.

 4. Improved Academic Performance

There are many studies demonstrating a significant link between arts education and educational success. Test scores are just one aspect:

  • Students involved in drama performance coursework or experience outscored non-arts students on the 2005 SAT by an average of 65 points in the verbal component and 34 points in the math component
  • Students involved in drama performance scored an average of 65.5 points higher on the verbal component and 35.5 points higher in the math component of the SAT

 SAT Scores(The College Entrance Examination Board)

 5. Emotional Intelligence / Empathy

Empathy needs to be practiced, especially in today’s world. By sympathizing with characters in theater performances, children can begin to understand what it means to empathize. They also gain a better understanding of non-verbal communication and learn how to interact effectively with others.

 6. Exposure to Different Cultures and Perspectives

Theater allows children to put themselves in the shoes of another person, perhaps with a different viewpoint than their own. This fosters understanding and acceptance, while expanding their worldview.

 7. Confidence

Performing in front of an audience for the first time is nerve-wracking to say the least, but eventually, overcoming this fear makes children feel an overwhelming sense of pride. They realize they can accomplish anything with practice. This confidence is transferred to all aspects of their lives, including academics.

 8. Creative Outlet for Expression

One of the biggest benefits of the arts is that they provide an outlet for expression and are a productive use of energy. The creativity developed through theater will set children apart and allow them to excel in their future careers.

 9. Problem Solving Skills

Theater helps children learn without them even realizing it! While watching a production, children witness a conflict and solution process. While working on a production, they will be faced with script, actor, or staging problems that require a quick, creative solution. These experiences help children form critical problem-solving skills.

 10. Friends / Team-building

Theater isn’t mean to be experienced alone. By participating in theater, children can bond with current friends while making new ones. They learn about teamwork and compromising with others, both essential to their careers and to their lives.

Looking for ways to bring theater into your child’s life? Make sure to stop by PlayhouseSquare’s International Children’s Festival from May 6 – 14!

Children's Fest

International Children’s Festival – Celebrating the World We Share

Published May 8th, 2013 by | Comments Off on International Children’s Festival – Celebrating the World We Share

Experience theater performances from around the world and celebrate the performing arts, global culture, and FUN at our International Children’s Festival May 9-11. The festival features four children’s shows from around the globe: Grug, The Girl who Forgot To Sing Badly, ZooZoo, and The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer by Tim Watts.

GrugGrug is visiting from Australia, and is a story based on a book series. The idea for it all came from a father using his imagination to create bed time stories for his children. Grug began his life as the top of a Burrawang tree that fell to the ground. Resembling a small, striped haystack with feet and a nose, Grug is fascinated by the world around him and solves everyday problems creatively and without fuss.

Recommended Grade Level: Pre-K-2

Girl who Forgot to Sing BadlyThe Girl who Forgot to Sing Badly comes from Ireland and is written by Finegan Kruckmeyer, who is regarded as the world’s best current children’s theater playwright. The story follows Peggy O’Hegarty and her parents, who are both packers. They squeeze fruit into tins, foxes into boxes, and even bikes into brown paper bags. All the while Peggy sings with the voice of an angel – a grossly unfortunate angel who can’t sing at all. But one day work stops working, and the jobs stop coming, and Peggy steps outside to find that everyone in her city has gone!

Recommended Grade Level: 2-6

ZooZooZooZoo is representing the United States in the Festival and is a Cirque Du Soleil style acrobatic experience featuring actors dressed in zoo animal costumes. The show feature penguins playing musical chairs, a cat trapped in a giant paper bag, hippos with insomnia, anteaters as waiters, and a madcap revue of illusion, comedy and fun that has inspired audiences nationwide.

Recommended Grade Level: K-6

 Alvin Sputnik The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer is visiting from Australia, and was created by puppeteer Tim Watts. While at a workshop, he was told to create a puppet out of found objects, and created Alvin Sputnik out of a Styrofoam ball and a glove. The show features his puppet, and uses a heavy amount of technology – including a Wii remote!

Recommended Grade Level: Ages 8+


We have found that most families prefer to attend one or two shows – or one show and Exxopolis, along with some of the other free activities we offer. Free activities include crafts, an Art Walk, short films, roaming artists and more! Join us in for our global celebration this weekend!

Step into a World of Light – Exxopolis Luminarium

Published May 6th, 2013 by | Comments Off on Step into a World of Light – Exxopolis Luminarium

Outside View

For more than twenty years, the Architects of Air have created 20 traveling art pieces known as “luminaria.” Their creations have traveled all across the world – visiting 38 countries and providing extraordinary experiences for more than 2 million visitors.

Designed by Alan Parkinson and made completely out of 9,000 hand stitched PVC pieces, Exxopolis is like a castle of color and light. The design was inspired by geometric shapes in nature, Islamic architecture, and Gothic cathedrals. The thin plastic shapes that create Exxopolis have been pieced together to create a work of art that playfully displays colors and architecture by just using the light that enters this inflatable building.

As you enter the structure be prepared to encounter a labyrinth of vivid reflections of liquid color. Winding paths connect to high-ceilinged domes and quiet alcoves as natural sunlight streams through the colored plastic. With all of the natural beauty and colored light, it’s easy to forget the world outside. Guests freely walk through the luminarium online casino and sit down and relax inside.

No two visits to Exxopolis are exactly alike; the light changes with the weather and with the sunlight. Even the way people are spaced throughout the structure can change the experience.

There are just a few simple rules for visiting Exxopolis– no shoes, no running, no sliding down the inflatable walls, and of course, have fun! Here are a few pictures from inside the luminarium that give a quick snapshot of what guests experience inside Exxopolis.

Exxopolis is visiting as part of our International Children’s Festival and will be open Thursday, May 9 through Saturday, May 11 in the parking lot on the corner of Euclid Avenue and E 17th Street next to the Hanna Building. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by and adult and Exxopolis is wheelchair accessible. It will be open rain or shine, and for more details click here.


*Funding for this installation of Exxopolis provided by Kathy & Jim Pender and the Michael Pender Memorial Fund.


ZooZoo’s Animals Come to Life

Published April 29th, 2013 by | Comments Off on ZooZoo’s Animals Come to Life


Imago Theatre’s ZooZoo, the last show of the 2012-2013 Children’s Theater Series and part of the 2013 International Children’s Festival, presents a series of short vignettes of animals in relatable situations, using only music and the actions of fully costumed and masked performers to tell the stories. For ZooZoo, the costumes actually come first in the creative process—the show’s co-creators Jerry Mouawad and Carol Triffle continually dream up and build new animal costumes and then bring them to the performers so that a plot can potentially build around the masks.

The pair has many costumes and masks that have never made it into the show. To earn a spot in ZooZoo, the vignettes must have a “telling moment” that makes them relatable to the audience. The pair can tell in rehearsals if the costume and premise has what it takes to be a successful addition to ZooZoo or other Imago productions.

LavabaticImago’s blog featured a post explaining this process, citing the acrobatic larva vignette as an example. While there are fantastic, massive costumes created at Imago all the time—even a 25-foot-long caterpillar—it can happen that a costume much simpler in comparison becomes the best choice. The staff knew within three hours of beginning rehearsals with the larva costume that the larvabatic vignette had great potential and would be added to the show. In other cases, defining how a costume and its character could potentially join the show can take up to a year.

No matter how simple the costume may appear, developing the look is a time-consuming process. The larva costume took Imago Theatre six months to create. Cats joined the existing cast of anteaters, frogs and other creatures in ZooZoo at the end of last year, and the cat costumes also required a considerable amount of time to perfect. The show’s creators explained to The Oregonian that the cat’s features proved to be especially difficult to recreate in sculpted form, and the mask required several tries with different image sources, including Triffle posing her cats as models.

Because we see animals like cats and dogs so frequently and have such strong mental images of them, Mouawad said they are much more difficult to recreate as a costume than animals that we see less frequently. Luckily for viewers, Triffle’s efforts eventually yielded a product she was happy with, and she said the initial public response to the costumes suggested audiences were happy with them, too.

To create the most authentic interpretations of the animals’ motions with the masks and costumes, the actors must makefrogs some unusual adjustments while performing. Take the frogs for example: The actors’ faces are actually facing down when the frog masks are on. What appear to be the eyes would actually be the top of the actor’s head, which helps the actors’ shoulders and posture appear more frog-like as they move on stage. Because the actors cannot see with these masks, they rely on floor markings and sounds to move about the stage and must genuinely imagine that they can see to bring the mask to life.

This engagement is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest, which is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from the Ohio Arts Council.

Art Walk inspired by children

Published April 26th, 2012 by | Comments Off on Art Walk inspired by children

Imagine walking into work one morning and the office building directly across from where you work was suddenly covered in a huge black and white photo of children’s faces.

You’d notice it, right?

That’s exactly the effect our Community Engagement & Education Department was going for in designing the 2012 Art Walk for this year’s PNC International Children’s Festival presented by Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

The 2012 Art Walk was largely inspired by an artist who goes by the moniker JR. JR, a Parisian photographer who started his work as a young man simply wanting to put his mark on the streets, began his craft as a graffiti artist. Now 29, JR’s work has taken stage in many cities and countries across the world, including Paris, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Kenya, Switzerland, China and Italy.

JR's piece: Women Are Heroes in Kibera Slum - Kenya. January 2009

Since his start in Paris, JR has become famous for doing large graffiti style photography installations in public spaces. His main focus has been to bring art to people by bringing it to the street saying, “In the street, we reach people who never go to museums.” You can see some of his art installations on his website here.

Using JR’s style of art as inspiration, this year we decided to shift the focus off of the artwork that children have created, and focus on the children themselves. To make the biggest impact possible, we took over the Hanna Building by putting up a 20’ x 140’ banner, featuring images of children.

Several artists worked on the Art Walk project, including Toni Starinsky, Eric Mull, and Gabriel Gonzalez. Toni, who is Chairman of Visual Arts and Director of Video and The Photographic Arts at The Cleveland School of the Arts and Gabriel, a recipient of the Scholastics Art and Writing National Gold Award, worked with student photographers from the STAMP organization (Students Teaching and Mentoring Photography).

STAMP, a program based out of The Cleveland School of the Arts, photographed children who had attended Children’s Theater Series shows. Their work can be seen on several flags in Star Plaza and surrounding area.

Eric Mull, a panoramic photographer and graduate of Bowling Green State University in Visual Communications Technology and author of The American Skyscraper, worked to create the banner hanging from the Hanna Building.

So why feature children’s faces, instead of children’s art?

According to Glynis Brault, Education Program Coordinator at PlayhouseSquare, the theme of the International Children’s Festival “celebrating the world we share” really inspired the Art Walk. “Every year thousands of children come to PlayhouseSquare to attend our Children’s Theater Series shows” said Brault. “These children come from different schools, live in different cities, and have different backgrounds, but when they come to PlayhouseSquare they are brought together and share in the same experience of watching live theater.  With that in mind we thought it would be fitting to take pictures of children who attended the Children’s Theater Series

this year and those would be the faces we displayed for the Art Walk.”

Come downtown and check out the Art Walk for yourself! The Art Walk, which wraps around the Hanna Building, will be up now through the International Children’s Festival, May 4-5. In addition to many shows, there are several free activities to take part in at the festival, including workshops, children’s films, crafts and of course, the Art Walk. Hope to see you there!

About Us

A not-for-profit performing arts center that presents and produces a wide variety of performing arts, advances arts education and creates a destination that is a superior location for entertainment business and residential living, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.