News and reviews of local family dance, theater and movies in Los Angeles.

Stage & Screen

ford theatres

Travel the Globe at the Ford through Music and Dance

What are your summer travel plans? Korea? West Africa? How about some imaginary land? You can take your family to all those places through song and dance by visiting the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. Big World Fun takes up residence there with a quartet of big Saturday morning shows this summer.   Le Ballet Dembaya takes families on a lively trek to the West African nation of Guinea June 30 with...

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Can you tell me how to get to “The Jim Henson Exhibition?”

Starting June 1, the Skirball Cultural Center ( will be home to “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited,” which explores the life and career of this master puppeteer. From TV programs such as “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show” and “Fraggle Rock” to movies including “Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal,” Henson changed how puppets looked and what they did on screens large and small. On view are “Sesame Street” puppets Grover,...

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These Kids will Take You to School

There are a dozen reasons to go see the production of “School of Rock” that opened May 3 at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre: the kids in the band. In this tale of a wannabe rock god who masquerades as a substitute teacher at an elite private elementary school, it isn’t that the adults don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Rob Colletti turns in a solid performance as self-absorbed...

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Tween Time: Baseball, Immigration and a Talking Taco Truck

Bring your teens and tweens to The 24th Street Theatre, known for its thought-provoking, community-focused productions, for the world premiere of “ICE,” the story of two baseball-loving men who arrive in L.A. from Mexico with big dreams but no documentation. Armed with their aunt’s super salsa recipe, they are determined to find success with their taco truck (which “talks” from its marquee). The play’s title holds a double meaning. The...

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Night! Camera! Action! Los Angeles Summer Film Series Begin

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, but one of the joys of Southern California summers begins this month: outdoor movies. More series will kick off in June, but two of the most established and expansive are setting up their big screens now. Street Food Cinema hosts a 30th anniversary screening of “The Land Before Time” at Griffith Park May 19, and features “Raiders of the Lost Ark” May 29...

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john august

L.A. Parent Chat Room: Meet Screenwriter and Author John August

You may know L.A. local John August from his screenwriting credits, which include “Big Fish,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” But, now he’s notched up a new credit: middle-grade novelist. “Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire,” an engaging and exciting blend of magic, mayhem and mystery, introduces readers to 12-year-old Arlo, a newcomer to Pine Mountain, Col. Arlo soon makes friends and is invited to join...

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for tweens in LA

Tween Time: Shadow Magic

Technology has dramatically changed the way entertainment is created and consumed for tweens in LA. All of the high-tech wizardry, however, can make old-fashioned techniques seem unusual and even avant-garde. Shadow puppetry, for example, is a centuries-old art form that can still be used to create a magical experience for audiences. You might have seen the Catapult Shadow Dance Company when they were finalists on “America’s Got Talent.” This innovative...

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County Library Users Get Free Film Access

The County of Los Angeles Public Library is now offering library card holders free access to Kanopy, a film streaming service with more than 30,000 titles. The Los Angeles Public library system acquired Kanopy early last year, making it possible for nearly every Angeleno to now have access to this service. Kanopy is an on-demand video platform that allows users to experience a curated collection of more than 30,000 films...

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cirque du soleil's luzia

Slipping into a Waking Dream of Mexico with Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia in SoCal

Our little entourage was tired from a day of school, work and after-school activities, but with tickets to see the premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico,” we dug deep to find our second wind and rushed to the grand chapiteau.   One of the parking lots at Dodger Stadium, where “Luzia” runs through Feb. 11, has been transformed into a garden of sorts – from Blue...

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this is us

Mackenzie Hancsicsak of ‘This is Us’: Tackling Big Issues With Her TV Family

On a recent morning, sandwiched between a hair appointment, a Golden Globes gifting suite and a wardrobe fitting at Paramount Studios is Mackenzie Hancsicsak’s interview with me at the L.A. Parent office in Woodland Hills.   The 10-year-old has grown used to the schedule that her role as young Kate Pearson on the Screen Actors Guild Award-winning NBC series “This is Us” demands – and to navigating a range of emotional...

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Los Angeles for Teens

Tween Time: Humor and Humanity Around Los Angeles for Teens

Arriving in Southern California this month are several thought-provoking theater productions just perfect for teens and tweens.  “Candide” comes to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion courtesy of the L.A. Opera ( Leonard Bernstein composed the music for this colorful comic opera, and this production stars Kelsey Grammer (“Cheers” and “Frasier”) and two-time Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole. Based on the novella by Voltaire, “Candide” (recommended for ages 10 and older) is...

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center theatre group

Center Theatre Group Chooses August Wilson Monologue Finalists

Center Theatre Group has selected 12 local high school students to participate in the regional finals for the 2018 August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) to be held March 5 at the Mark Taper Forum.  This is the seventh year Center Theatre Group is hosting the Southern California component of the national monologue competition. The program is designed to inspire and educate Los Angeles youth using monologues from August Wilson’s “American...

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Aladdin at the Pantages: A Magical Visit to Agrabah

As I waited for the curtain to go up on opening night of “Aladdin” at the Pantages Theater, I couldn’t help but wonder how the story would fare without the magic of Gilbert Gottfried, the late Robin Williams and Disney animation. I didn’t even have to wait until intermission for my answer: Delightfully. I’ve never seen a standing ovation before the end of a performance, but Michael James Scott’s Genie...

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kids movies

Bears, Rabbits and Neanderthals are Coming to SoCal Cinemas

The holiday-movie season is over, but that doesn’t mean you have to hibernate and wait for fresh family movies to come out in the spring. There are several kid-friendly movies scheduled for release before then.  The first arrival of the New Year will be “Paddington 2” Jan. 12. The PG-rated sequel to the “beary” popular 2014 live-action/CGI animated comedy picks up where the first film left off, with Paddington bear living with the Brown family. The story finds the cute...

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family fun in los angeles

A Trifecta of Disney Fun

There is a triple of dose of Disney excitement to be enjoyed this January. Arriving in town Jan. 10 will be “Aladdin,” which materializes at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater (6233 Hollywood Blvd.) through March 31. Created by award-winning talent, including Alan Menken (“Newsies”), Howard Ashman (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Tim Rice (“The Lion King”), this Broadway smash features songs from the beloved Disney movie as well as new tunes written...

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Lauren Potter Stars in Short Film About Acting and Disabilities

Actors face many challenges, including seemingly endless strings of auditions that may or may not pay off. A new short film starring Lauren Potter, the scrappy cheerleader from “Glee,” spotlights what that can look like for actors with disabilities. Called “Headshot,” the 5-minute film was produced in partnership with AbilityFirst, a nonprofit dedicated to looking beyond disabilities and expanding possibilities. The film was directed by Eva Ye and in the...

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NYE Parties for Kids in Los Angeles

A Countdown of New Year’s Countdowns

We will start our New Year’s countdown at five with this list – which is chronological, not a ranking.  5. The Santa Monica Playhouse (1211 4th St., Santa Monica; is presenting its annual (but new each year) New Year’s Eve Musical Revue at 7 p.m. Dec. 30 and 6 p.m. Dec. 31. For $39.50-$59.50 adults, $19.50-$39.50 children, guests can enjoy a buffet dinner, a light-hearted musical production, noisemakers, streamers and...

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theater in los angeles

The Many Spirits of Holiday Theater

When the winter holiday season makes its annual visit, you can expect to find Sugar Plum Fairies and Scrooge on many Los Angeles stages. This year brings more than a dozen productions of “The Nutcracker” and a handful of “A Christmas Carols.” However, there is also a nice variety of theatrical options if you are looking for something beyond Tiny Tim and Tchaikovsky.   Beauties and Beasts  Two of this season’s most popular characters, in fact, are Beauty and the Beast, with three different incarnations of this favorite fairy tale...

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new kids movies

Coming Attractions: Four and a Half Films for Families

The holidays are always a prime time for family films, and this year is no exception. The first to reach cinemas will be “Coco,” which arrives Nov. 22. Full of music, humor and magical adventure, this new Pixar animated movie tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel, who wants to be a musician despite his family’s ban on music. Finding himself in The Land of the Dead, Miguel meets his deceased...

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dance in los angeles

Visit Many Worlds of Dance This Month

November kicks off “Nutcracker” season, but the month also offers some interesting dance performances that are free of Sugar Plum Fairies. Dance in Los Angeles revs up and gives fans of artistic movement a plethora of choices to experience in different areas in Southern California. One comes from Momix, one of America’s preeminent modern dance companies. Known for nontraditional choreography, Momix performances include props, projections, acrobatics, costumes and mime. They...

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hamilton in los angeles

Tween Time: Hamilton vs. ‘Spamilton’

“Hamilton’s” time at the Pantages comes to an end Dec. 30, so if you haven’t yet seen it (or seen it multiple times), don’t procrastinate. “Hamilton,” recommended for ages 12 and older, has become a cultural phenomenon, and most people now know about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterful musical depiction of Alexander Hamilton’s life story via rap, pop, hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway music. The Pantages holds a lottery for $10 tickets...

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theatrical performances in LA

Classic Children’s Stories Reimagined for the Stage

Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Willy Wonka, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz – these well-known characters from childhood will find their stories re-imagined in intriguing ways this month.   Imago Theatre stages its highly original version of “Beauty and the Beast,” offering “La Belle, Lost in the World of the Automaton” at 3 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Valley Performing Arts Center (18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Filled...

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animation in los angeles

It’s Toon Time: Celebrations of Animation in Los Angeles

Some unique fun is on tap for families this month. Animation in Los Angeles is a thriving sector of the entertainment industry and you can celebrate it with your kids. Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills ( unveils an exhibition saluting Cartoon Network’s first quarter century on Oct. 14. Called “Cartoon Network: 25 Years of Drawing on Creativity,” it offers visitors an in-depth sketch-to-screen look at the creative process...

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we are savvy

Teens Showcase Their Savvy in New YouTube Red Series

When I was 11, there were few opportunities to peer into the lives of tweens outside of my immediate community. Today, tweens  have many chances to see how their peers around the world are living. These include a YouTube Red Original series called “We Are Savvy,” which aims to give tweens and teens a refreshing spin on girl culture. The cheeky magazine-style show set in three of the hosts’ bedrooms...

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Family Movie Review: Take the Leap!

Jumping into theaters Aug. 25 is “Leap!” This Weinstein Company animated film doesn’t feature talking animals or cars, and it doesn’t seem to have been created to spawn a series of sequels or a line of merchandise. This film was made just to be a movie, and there is a something greatly refreshing about that. A coming-of-age tale filled with comedy, adventure, music and dance, “Leap!” tells the story of...

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The Late-Summer Family Movie Scene

By the time August rolls around, Hollywood typically has sent all of its blockbusters out to theaters. If you’ve seen “Despicable Me 3” and “Cars 3” three times each and are looking for new options, you’ll be happy to know that a few fresh family films are on deck. Those who went nuts over the 2014 animated comedy “The Nut Job” will be excited to find “The Nut Job 2:...

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lost in oz

Amazon Prime Video’s “Lost in Oz” Debuts as Animated Series

Orbs, portals and ozonium exist in Amazon Prime Video’s newest release, an adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.” Based on the “Oz” books by L. Frank Baum, “Lost in Oz,” is an animated series that expands on the Emmy-award winning Amazon Original special, “Lost in Oz: Extended Adventure.” The series features 13 half-hour episodes and gives little viewers a confident, STEM-loving, independent and quick-witted 12-year-old Dorothy Gale with dog Toto,...

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Los Angeles Events: Marvel Universe Life! Age of Heroes

It might be hard to imagine a time when you could only find Iron Man, Captain America and other Marvel superheroes in the pages of comic books. Today they can be found in movies, TV shows, computer games, merchandise of all types and Disneyland’s new “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!” attraction. But this month, fans should get ready to encounter these superheroes in a whole new way. “Marvel...

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despicable me 3

Kids Movie Review: Despicable Me 3, the Goat and the Boat

“Is that the movie ‘fee-uh-ter’?” 3-year-old Dax asks as we approach the Tuck Room Tavern on Wilshire where iPic Theaters Westwood  is tucked right upstairs. “It’s a building, it’s not a movie place,” says Mirae. The sibling banter ended soon after as we approached the "Despicable Me 3" screening and Minion-themed breakfast party. There was a minion milling about, a photo booth with bananas, as well as actual breakfast. Kellogg’s Cereal,...

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Bob Baker Marionettes Revisit a History of Family Fun

The Bob Baker Marionettes have been entertaining audiences for more than half a century at shows around Southern California and downtown in the Bob Baker Marionette Theater at 1345 W. 1st St. This year, the black clouds that have hung over the troupe’s future since the theater property was bought up several years ago seem to be lifting. Construction will soon begin on what is described as a “rejuvenated theater...

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L2M Brings STEM to Life in YouTube Red’s Hyperlinked

Getting kids interested in STEM is going beyond the classroom. Instead of talking about careers in science, technology, engineering and math through parents and teachers, YouTube Red Originals is showing tweens how it’s done. The new show "Hyperlinked" launched in May and features tween music group L2M. The series follows five girls as they come together to create their own website by girls for girls. The mission of the website is to...

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Catch An Outdoor Film for Family Fun in L.A. This Summer

Feel like catching a summer film and a little family fun by a pool? In a cemetery? At a college? In a Bowl? You can do it at all four, and more! L.A. is blessed with multiple outdoor summer movie series – a few particularly worth knowing about. CSUN’s Summer Movie Fest happens Thursday nights on the university’s Oviatt Library Lawn (18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; June’s free films include...

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Tween Time: A Memorable Memory Play

“Memory 5D+” might sound like an app (with more appeal for the middle-aged than for tweens), but it couldn’t be more human. The production is a multimillion-dollar, multisensory theatrical experience featuring more than 35 Chinese musicians, dancers, acrobats and singers that will appeal to teens and tweens. The “Memory” in the show’s name refers to the traditional Chinese music and dance that form the core of this production. Musicians will...

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monster trucks movie

Making Play Hands-On with Monster Trucks Movie’s Special FX Coordinator Jim Schwalm

Monster trucks jump over highway railings in playrooms all too often, but seeing it on the big screen is a spectacle that piques a child's imagination. This and more mechanical feats can be seen in Paramount Pictures' "Monster Trucks" movie, which just released on BluRay and DVD this month. We recently sat down with Jim Schwalm, Special FX Coordinator for the film, and talked about how to make play more hands-on...

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Autism’s First Film Fest Comes to L.A.

What would you do if someone offered you the use of a movie theater for a couple of days? If you’re Matt Asner, vice president of development for Autism Society of America, you put on a film festival. AutFest, the first film festival solely dedicated to the portrayal of autism in film and filmmakers on the spectrum, takes place April 22-23 at the AMC 30 in Orange. “I’ve always thought...

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Why This Dad Is On Pokemon Go

Last year, Los Angeles TV producer Brant Pinvidic found himself equally baffled by two things. One was the exploding popularity of the smartphone game Pokemon Go, which in the summer of 2016 was played by millions of people, including his whole family. The other was how to find common ground with his 13-year-old daughter, who had become obsessed with catching its virtual characters to the point where he caught her...

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february family friendly movies

February Film Feast for Families

Arriving this month are two non-Hollywood movies that should interest cinemaphiles young and old. One is a small Swiss animated film and the other is a big IMAX movie, but both celebrate the human condition in their own unique ways. “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” the IMAX movie, will debut at the California Science Center (700 Exposition Park, L.A.; Feb. 17. Created by MacGillivray Freeman Films, a studio that...

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youtube red

YouTube Red Gets Original for Kids with 4 New Series

YouTube's subscription service YouTube Red is expanding its content offerings for kids in 2017. The $9.99-a-month service currently offers a music service, access to original series and movies and an uninterrupted experience across YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Kids. Just announced are four new original series for kids and teens this year. These new series will feature top creators: DanTDM , Joe and Cody of TheAtlanticCraft, popular tween music act L2M, and Fruit Ninja. This marks the first...

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move the world

Taking the Stage to Move the World

They learn to dance and they dance to create change. The L.A.-based participants in the nonprofit Move the World, most ages 9 to 21, create and perform original dance works that spotlight causes from the health of our oceans to homelessness among our youth. “I wanted to teach the kids not only to love performing, but for there to be a purpose behind it,” says Move the World Executive Director...

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