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Little Rock Family Blog

Events, activities, news, insight and opinion from the trenches of parenthood by Little Rock Family Magazine Editor Heather Bennett and her editorial staff. Share tips, news and feedback with Heather here.
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Children's Theatre Presents Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat Musical March 6-29

Schools, libraries and families have been celebrating the life and work of Dr. Seuss all week--his birthday is March 2--and the rhyming, madcap fun will continue all month long at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre! The newest production to hit the stage is "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat," adapted by Katie Mitchell and presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

"Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat" will open March 6 and performances will continue through March 29. The musical features one of the most iconic and beloved picture book characters, the Cat in the Hat, a clever feline who rescues a brother and sister from rainy day boredom.

Special performances will be held for school groups from March 5-19; find more info here. And, families can attend during spring break week, when matinee performances are held at 2 p.m. March 24-27.

The regular performance schedule is 7 p.m. Fri., and 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Tickets are $12.50. For more info, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org.

Mindbender Mansion Puzzle Exhibit Opens at Museum of Discovery March 7

Image by Museum of Discovery

In the Spelling Fever game, players are given a clue (actual example: a vegetable popularly mashed) and must jump on the letters to spell the answer.

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A puzzling new exhibit will open at the Museum of Discovery this weekend! Mindbender Mansion, which opens March 7, is full of puzzles, brainteasers and interactive challenges that build problem-solving skills and exercise young minds.

Throughout the exhibit, Mr. E (the wacky curator of the Mindbender Society) will explain how visitors can gather hidden clues and secret passwords by solving certain puzzles in the mansion. Kids can work on brainteasers on their own, and take part in group challenges, including:

  • Feeding Frenzy: Beat the clock by filling T.V. dinner trays with five kinds of food on a fast-moving conveyer belt.
  • Spelling Fever: Hopscotch meets Scrabble as you race to spell correct words by hopping on letter squares that light up.
  • Amazing Maze: In this version of the classic steel ball labyrinth game, visitors must work together to tilt a table in different directions by guiding a ball into six holes.

The traveling exhibit will remain at the Museum of Discovery through Sept. 7, and then will spend six months at five additional Arkansas Discovery Network museums in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Smackover, Jonesboro and Bentonville.

Museum of Discovery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat., and 1-5 p.m. Sun. Admission is $10, children ages 1-12 $8, children under 1 free. For info: (501) 396-7050, MuseumOfDiscovery.org.

10 Events for Weekend Fun: Mary Poppins, Cat in the Hat and Lanterns Festival

Image by Tyler Rosenthal

It is a family fun-packed weekend! The Lanterns festival will light up Wildwood Park for the Arts. Two fantastic family musicals open: "Mary Poppins" and "Cat in the Hat." Plus, the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs reopens after an incredible renovation (pictured above), and the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock unveils a new exhibit, too. Read on for more exciting events this weekend, March 6-8!

Little Rock Family Day with "Mary Poppins" at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre: Celebrate the opening of "Mary Poppins" at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre this weekend. Before the Saturday matinee performance, families will enjoy a variety of fun Mary Poppins-themed activities: Take a free photo, make a kite craft and enter to win giveaways, including gift cards to Mexico Chiquito. One lucky attendee will even win a meet-and-greet with Mary Poppins after the show! You can also purchase Chim-Chim-Cher-Rep, the special Mary Poppins-themed ice cream flavor from Loblolly Creamery. Free pre-show activities begin at 1 p.m.; matinee begins at 2 p.m. March 7. Ticket prices vary; tickets to the show are available through The Rep's box office. Info: (501) 378-0405, TheRep.org.

Grand Reopening of the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs: Be one of the first to experience the amazing $7.8 million renovation of this Hot Springs museum! The entire museum has been overhauled with brand-new exhibits and activities, the new Digital Dome Theater, two-story, interactive water feature, an outdoor Science Skywalk and much more. See photos of the renovations and learn more in our sneak peek here. The museum opens at 9 a.m. March 7. Admission is $10, children ages 3-12 $8, ages 2 and under free. Info: MidAmericaMuseum.org.

Opening of Cat in the Hat at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre: One of the most familiar and beloved picture books of the last half century erupts with fun on the Children's Theatre stage. It's a rainy day with nothing to do. Sally and her brother are miserable. Bored. Simply dying for fun. Then bump! Something quite unexpected. You guessed it. It's a cat. In a hat. In fact, it's the Cat in the Hat, and he's just in time to show the kids a Thing or two about fun. Dr. Suess' The Cat in the Hat is adapted by Katie Mitchell. The musical will play March 6-29; performances are 7 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Tickets: $12.50. Info: ArkansasArtsCenter.org.

Lanterns! Festival at Wildwood Park for the Arts: Wildwood Park's annual deep-winter festival celebrates the first full moon of the lunar new year. Lanterns! is held over three magical evenings; guests are transported to far away lands and times as they stroll through the beautifully lit pathways of Wildwood Park's gardens. 6-10 p.m. March 6 & 7, 6-9 p.m. March 8. Adult tickets are $8 in advance; regular admission is $10, children $5, children 5 and under are free. Info: (501) 821-7275, WildwoodPark.org.

Arkansas Rock City Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Barton Coliseum: More than 60 Arkansas and regional high schools will bring 3,000 students, teachers, mentors, sponsors and family members to showcase their creativity, determination and enthusiasm. This high-tech sporting event produces excitement and energy for participants and spectators alike, as teams compete for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, sportsmanship, teamwork and more. Free car and bus parking. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. March 6, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. March 7. Info: (501) 230-3997, ArkansasStateFair.com. FREE!

Bolly Holi Day at Ron Robinson Theater: Celebrate the festival of Holi with three Bollywood films in Hindi with English subtitles and Bollywood dance performances. The first film, "Qurbani" (NR) begins at noon, followed by "Zokkomon" (PG) at 3:15 p.m., and "English Vinglish" (NR) at 5:30 p.m. Special dance performances begin at 5:15 p.m. Noon-8 p.m. March 7. Info: CALS.org. FREE!

Arkansas Children's Hospital Health Fair at Park Plaza Mall: Children learn fun nutrition facts, play fitness games, get pictures taken dressed like a surgeon, and make finger casts! 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 7. Info: (501) 664-4956, ParkPlazaMall.com. FREE!

Dr. Seuss on the Loose Party at Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library & Learning Center: It's a wild and crazy time enjoying Dr. Seuss's rhymes! Celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday at this fun event, or click here to find more Dr. Seuss events to attend with your family! 10 a.m. March 7. Info: (501) 978-3870, CALS.org. FREE!

Mindbender Mansion Opening at Museum of Discovery: Explore the Museum of Discovery's new exhibit, a quirky place full of puzzles, brainteasers, and interactive challenges. The exhibit will be on view March 7-Sept. 7. Museum hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.; 1-5 p.m. Sun. Admission is $10, children 1-12 & seniors are $8, members and kids under 1 are free. Info: (501) 396-7050, MuseumOfDiscovery.org.

Twilight Hayride at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Take a hayride through fields and woods followed by a cozy campfire. Blankets recommended. 5:30-7:30 p.m. March 8. Advance payment and registration required; $12, children ages 6-12 $6. Info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain.

For more weekend events, browse our full online calendar here.

Sneak Peek: Photos of Renovated Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs

Gallery by Tyler Rosenthal

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The wait is over! Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs celebrates its grand re-opening this Saturday, March 7 after closing last fall for a $7.8 million renovation. We gave you a first look back in February, and now we have even more photos to share!

Take a peek below, and be sure to visit the museum for its grand re-opening this weekend! For more info and updates, visit their Facebook page and their website MidAmericaMuseum.org.

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Kids can get moving as soon as they walk through the front door: A spacious new entryway contains the Marvelous Motion exhibit full of hands-on interactives.

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Downstairs, two major pieces are sure to be kiddie hotspots: the modern jungle gym called the Gyroid Climber and the two-story water tower.

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Kids can splash around in the water feature, tossing colorful balls into streams that jet them high into the air--up to the second story, in fact. Cannons on the upper level allow kids to propel the balls even higher and into a funnel that drops them back down into the fountain’s central feature--a water vortex.

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Families will find the museum’s popular cave maze, along with an expanded exhibit all about the Natural State’s underground. The Arkansas Underfoot exhibit explores 13 types of rocks and minerals and where to find them in our state.

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Kids can also sort microfossils under a microscope, spend time inside the giant tree reading nook, and discover “yucky” science like bacteria and decomposition.

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Then, step into the Digital Dome Theater for a telescopic journey through space and the simulated universe.

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Plus, you’ll find The Workshops and tons of interactive fun: Make a stop-motion animated film; keep a beat on the electronic drums; power a hairdryer by turning a wheel and more.

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The museum’s upgrades extend to the outdoors, as well.

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Highlighting the serene wooded location, the Science Skywalk juts into the forest canopy 30 feet above the ground.

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Visitors safely view the trees from a bird’s-eye-view and explore small exhibits in the tree house.

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Adventurous youngsters can even climb around a cargo net suspended in the center of the walkway!

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The museum will also offer all-new summer camps and field trips for all ages. For more info, visit MidAmericaMuseum.org.

Take the Pledge and Spread the Word to End the Word Today

Image by Special Olympics Arkansas

Today, March 4, is the National Spread the Word to End the Word Day! The campaign, supported by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and over 200 more organizations, raises awareness about the derogatory use of the term retard or retarded--also known as "The R-Word."

What started as a clinical description is now often used as hurtful, disrespectful language. Today, students and schools around the country will take the pledge to think about their language, embrace differences in all people and respect everyone.

Families and individuals can also get involved by learning more about the campaign, sharing your pledge on social media, and even getting involved with Special Olympics Project UNIFY. Project UNIFY is a new effort to engage whole school communities in promoting the values of dignity and acceptance through service learning. Through a series of Project UNIFY activities, the projects aims to support educational leaders in their efforts to reduce bullying, fear and misunderstanding while promoting respect, high expectations, and the joy of sport for all students and their families.

A first step in this effort is taking the pledge! Together with a coalition of disability organizations around the country, young people can lead an effort to ensure that all children with intellectual disabilities feel welcomed and accepted in school. Get started at R-Word.org.

Tickets on Sale for Disney On Ice Worlds of Fantasy at Verizon Arena

Image by Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy

Tinker Bell, Ariel, Lightning McQueen, Buzz Lightyear and more of your favorite Disney characters will be gliding into Verizon Arena this May! Tickets go on sale today, March 3, for Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy, coming to North Little Rock May 6-10.

The crew of Disney Pixar's "Cars" will race across the ice. Families can dive into the enchanting undersea kingdom of "The Little Mermaid" and enter the mystical world of Pixie Hollow with Tinker Bell and the Disney Fairies. Plus, the toys are back in town when Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and the "Toy Story" gang escape from the rambunctious tots of Sunnyside Daycare.

Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy will come to Verizon Arena for seven performances: 7 p.m. May 6-8; 11 a.m., 3 & 7 p.m. May 9; and 2 p.m. May 10.

Ticket prices range from $16-$61; kids ages 2-12 are $13 in select seating areas. And, families can take advantage of the opening night discount: $13 for select seats.

For tickets and info, visit VerizonArena.com.

Enjoy Free Activities at Mary Poppins Little Rock Family Day This Saturday

Image by John David Pittman

The big day is almost here! Everyone's favorite nanny is flying into Little Rock (umbrella in hand, of course) this weekend. Opening Night of "Mary Poppins" at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is March 6 and performances will run through April 12. Plus, Little Rock Family will host a matinee performance with special pre-show activities on March 7!

At Little Rock Family Day this Saturday (March 7), families will enjoy a variety of free Mary Poppins-themed activities from 1-2 p.m. Pose for a photo, make a kite craft, and purchase Chim-Chim-Cher-Rep, the special Mary Poppins ice cream flavor from Loblolly Creamery.

During the pre-show event, families can also enter to win multiple giveaways, including a chance to meet Mary Poppins after the show! All of the free activities will take place in the lobby of the theater from 1-2 p.m.; the show will begin at 2 p.m. 

We're so excited about opening weekend and Little Rock Family Day that we're celebrating with a ticket giveaway today on our Facebook page! To enter, visit Facebook.com/LittleRockFamily and follow the instructions. The deadline to enter is 3 p.m. today (March 3). A winner will be announced on our Facebook page at 4 p.m.

For more info about the show or to purchase tickets, visit TheRep.org.

The Rep's 2015-2016 Season Includes The Little Mermaid, Peter and the Starcatcher

Great news for families! The Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced its 2015-2016 mainstage season this evening and the lineup includes two amazing shows for families: Disney's The Little Mermaid and Peter and the Starcatcher. The upcoming season will mark The Rep's 40 year anniversary, and they have chosen a great lineup to celebrate. Here's what else you'll be able to see next season at The Rep:

William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Sept. 11-27, 2015

After receiving an ominous prophecy on a blood-soaked battlefield, Macbeth and his ambitious wife claw their way to the Scottish throne. Each step closer to fulfilling his royal Fate leads Macbeth deeper and deeper into a fiendish quagmire of carnage and corruption, from which none can survive; not even him. Directed by Robert Hupp.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Oct. 16-Nov. 8, 2015

This Tony Award-winning look at the world of adolescence is told with hilarity, catchy tunes and surprising poignancy. The gloves are off in the take-no-prisoners, cold-blooded, dog-eat-dog world of competitive spelling as a menagerie of pre-pubescent misfits vies to d-e-c-i-m-a-t-e their young rivals on the cutthroat path to the national spelling bee championship. The show is intended for adult audiences. Music and lyrics by William Finn; book by Rachel Sheinkin. Directed by Nicole Capri.

Disney's The Little Mermaid, Dec. 4, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016

From the creators of "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" and "Little Shop of Horrors," this enchanting musical features an infectious score that includes the popular songs “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” Adapted from the beloved fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson into one of Disney’s most popular animated films, "The Little Mermaid" is now a lavish theatrical spectacle. Book by Doug Wright; Music by Alan Menken; Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater.

Peter and the Starcatcher, Jan. 15-Feb. 7, 2016

In this swashbuckling prelude to J. M. Barrie’s fantasy classic, the secret history of the Boy Who Would Never Grow Up is revealed with theatrical panache. Based on the popular Dave Barry books, and mixing British pantomime with playful elements of childhood make-believe, this raucous adventure journeys into the forgotten realms of the imagination filled with mermaids, fierce natives, pirates and magical starstuff. Embark upon a treacherous ocean voyage as Molly, a young Starcatcher aboard the good ship Neverland, races to escape the comical clutches of the dread pirate Black Stache. Accompanied by a trio of Lost Boys from a British orphanage, she is soon marooned on a not-so-deserted island filled with otherworldly enchantments and exhilarating danger around every turn. Each breathtaking adventure leads them closer to the mysterious origins of the Peter Pan you know and love. In 2012, "Peter and the Starcatcher" was nominated for nine Tony Awards. Peter and the Starcatcher will be presented as a co-production with TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Ark. Play by Rick Elise; Music by Wayne Barker.

The Bridges of Madison County, April 8-May 1, 2016

Fresh from Broadway, this amorous new musical from Jason Robert Brown will transport you to the soaring heights with its lush score and its all-too-human characters. The Rep is proud to present this breathtaking work of theater, based on the runaway bestselling novel by Robert James Waller. Italian-American wife and mother Francesca lives a dutiful life on a quiet Iowa farm, until a charismatic, handsome photographer sweeps into her world, reigniting her passion for life and reawakening her capacity for romance. Torn between her need to be loved and her promise to her family, Francesca must make the most difficult choice of her life. Either way, her world will never be the same again. Winner of the 2014 Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations, The Bridges of Madison County is an experience your heart won’t soon forget. Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown; Book by Marsha Norman.

Windfall, June 10-26, 2016

Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame directs this world premiere production that rounds out The Rep’s 40th Season. At a small data processing business in Columbus, Ohio, four coworkers toil under the heavy hand of their maniacal and deceitful boss. So far, camaraderie and mutual support have allowed them to survive his low wages, verbal abuse and unreasonable demands for perfection. But, when his manipulation escalates to ridiculous, unprecedented heights, they are driven to the brink of sanity. Desperate to escape to live the lives they've dreamed of, they put it all on the line, betting every last cent they have playing the lottery. But the possibility of sharing the $300 million jackpot brings out the hysterically worst in these best friends. Play by Scooter Pietsch; Produced by John Yonover; Directed by Jason Alexander.

Non-Subscription Productions

Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI): Broken Wings, March 1-12, 2016

Celebrating the beginning of their second successful decade, The Rep’s SMTI young artists will take the stage in a musical revue conceived and directed by Nicole Capri, Resident Director and Director of Education. With an encouraging message inspired by the Beatles song “Blackbird,” this piece will remind audiences that sometimes we have to break in order to breathe again. “Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”

The Second City, May 3-15, 2016

America’s favorite comedy improv troupe is back at The Rep with this funny revue that includes a modern mix of romance, rancor and everything in between. Hooking Up with The Second City makes mirth out of missed connections, girls’ night out adventures and all the crazy things we do for love.

For more information, visit TheRep.org.

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About The Author
Jennifer Pyron is the Associate Publisher and Editor of Little Rock Family magazine. She is the go-to gal for family events, activities, news and opinion. She and husband Charles are the proud, exhausted, penniless parents of Charles Jr. and Emily. Plus, should you need a pop culture lifeline on "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire," you may call her.
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