Wearing a multi-colored cape with a geometric pattern and an assortment of colorful pom-poms crowning her head, performer Elska whisks children in the audience away to an enchanted island. Combining song and theater, Elska weaves together a narrative about an island filled with imaginary friends. Elska, whose real name is Shelley Wollert, creates a sound she describes as “quirky, Icelandic-influenced pop. (It’s) very dreamy and atmospheric.”
Wollert is one of many performers who will be performing as a part of Colonial Theatre’s Children’s Summer Series. The Colonial Theatre, located in Phoenixville, started the Children’s Summer Series about five years ago. It consists of primarily live shows and will run on Tusdays at 10:30 a.m. from July 9 to Aug. 20. The shows are intended for 2- to 8-year-olds.
“(The Summer Series) gives moms and dads (who) are at home all summer with kids a fun way to entertain their kids and themselves. It gets everyone involved in theatre and the arts,” Kirsten Van Vlandren, assistant director of the Colonial Theatre, said.
Apart from entertaining children and adults, Van Vlandren believes exposing children to theater early on does so much more. Whenever she is asked why the arts are so important in children’s lives, a bumper sticker that reads, The less art kids get, the more it shows, comes to her mind.
“We want to get kids used to live shows. It gives them an opportunity to learn how to be arts patrons and value the performing arts,” Van Vlandren said. She is looking forward to each of the performances, but is particularly excited for the two new performances they are offering this year, Rolie Polie Guacamole and Elska.
In choosing performances to feature during the Children’s Summer Series, Van Vlandren said they go with shows that are entertaining for both children and adults and that they try to focus on local performers as much as they can.
Live performances are $8.50 a person and films are $5 a person. Children under 2 years of age are admitted free of charge.
Van Vlandren encourages people to buy tickets in advance, particularly for Balloon Freak John Cassidy, on Tuesday, Aug. 6, because he sells out quickly every year. Online is the easiest and cheapest way to buy tickets. Those interested can buy tickets online on The Colonial Theatre’s website.
Wollert agrees with Van Vlandren that introducing children to the arts early on is important. “It changed me as a little girl, going through theater,” she said. “It was such an engaging experience for me. It encourages conversation between parents and kids and cultivates their curiosity.”
The performances are as follows:
July 9: Short Films for Kids is a selection of live action and animated film shorts for kids ages 4 and up.
July 16: Rolie Polie Guacamole is a Brooklyn-based band that combines funk, rock and folk music about natural living, eating healthy and staying active. It is suitable for kids ages 4 and up.
July 23,: Craig Collis is a fast-paced comedy show that features music, magic, and audience participation. Appropriate for kids ages 4 and up.
July 30: The Plants is a four-piece Philadelphia-based band for kids that features an eclectic selection of musical styles including funk, Motown, doo-wop, rock, folk, and more. Appropriate for ages 4 and up.
Aug. 6: Balloon Freak John Cassidy is the Colonial’s most popular kids performer. His eccentric comedy routine has led to numerous television appearances including shows such as Live with Regis and Kelly and NBC’s Today Show. Suitable for ages four and up.
Aug. 13: Elska is a musical performer who combines an eclectic blend of musical sound to create the backdrop for her home, the imaginary Island of Elska, where many of her imaginary friends live. She has an award-winning debut album “Middle of Nowhere.” Suitable for ages 4 and up.
Aug. 20: Segal Puppet Threatre Presents Ropenose is a 40-minute interactive puppet show. It is most suitable for ages 2 to 5.
Tickets can be bought online at thecolonialtheatre.com. For purchases of 10 or more tickets for a single show, contact Kirsten Van Vlandren at 610-917-1228. The Colonial Theatre is located at 227 Bridge St. in Phoenixville.