Sunday, July 23, 2006

An Honored Vow

Saturday was kind of a cloudy, muggy day and I found myself in sole charge of the two young Master Tlines for a few hours. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit the Science Museum, allowing me to honor my vow to see the “Hansel and Gretel” skit they’re doing there much earlier than I expected.

Well, we had a swell time and the show was the highlight. We caught the early show (1pm) and both of the kids got into being trees (waving arms, going “woooooo…”) in the forest where Hansel and Gretel were lost. They particularly enjoyed yelling back at Beau Marie whenever he asked for it (which was quite often). Judging from a somewhat objective point of view, the show was just, ya know, sort of OK for your standard mid-day distraction for the kids. But the experience as a whole was pretty magical, thanks totally to the talents of Beau Marie and Shania Taylor, the dedicated thespians putting it on. When the show started, you could tell the crowd was in a sort of sleepy, bored, post-lunch funk. The standard “are you having a great day at the museum?” kind of questions were getting dreary, groaning responses. Any pep seemed to have popped off for Poughkeepsie hours ago.

But Mr. Marie and Ms. Taylor were persistent, clever and over-the-top in terms of silliness. By the time they were done, 8 year olds who had been slumped in their seats only 20 minutes before were laughing, yelling, and enthusiastically playing along. Things occasionally seemed on the verge of spiraling out of control but they always reigned it in and actually were able to get the story across reasonably well. My hats off to Shania and Beau for a couple of very entertaining performances.

The rest of the Science Museum experience was a comparative disappointment. For one thing, my guys are probably a little too young to get the most out of all the science stuff. But my older son, who is nearly 6, was trying his darndest to get some actual information out of the displays but it was too LOUD for me to explain things to him. His inability to read was certainly a factor but even if he had been looking for clarification of some of the more complicated concepts, I couldn't have given them to him over the general commotion.

It seems like the museum is trying for fun as well as informative, a tough balance to achieve. But if the fun could be a little less noisy, the informative might come across more clearly. I'll certainly try again with these guys again down the road. But my expectations will be aligned a little differently. Given the results of this past weekend, maybe we'll plan to see BOTH showings of the play next time...

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