I was a high school theater nerd—a “thespian,” if you will. I grew up enjoying plays and musicals, but I really caught the bug when I was in junior high. I remember like it was yesterday: I was a student at Owen Goodnight Junior High, and the cast of Addict, a play by Jerome McDonough written at the height of the 1980s “Just Say No”/War on Drugs fervor, came from the local high school to perform for us. I was mesmerized and inspired. I knew I wanted to be a part of that—to be onstage, performing for an audience. I wrote the high school theater teacher a letter and professed my profound appreciation for the show and the talent of the actors. I told her I wanted to be a part of her excellent department. And so the first elective I chose in high school was Theater Arts. I landed my first lead role when I was a sophomore, cast as “Beauty” in our high school UIL one-act play entry, The Masque of Beauty and the Beast.
I had some success in theater while I was in high school. I was cast in lead roles and won awards in UIL competitions. I lovingly remember the roles I played, the friends I made, the way it felt to embody another person and try to convey her feelings and emotions for an audience to (hopefully) lose themselves in. I even went to college on a theater scholarship. But once I realized that I wasn’t going to be a movie star, I quit. I wasn’t content being cast as the “wacky aunt” instead of the ingenue. Sometimes I think it was short-sighted on my part (I now play the part of “wacky aunt” to my young nephews to rave reviews!), but I also think it takes an enormous amount of passion and talent to try to make it in acting, and I just didn’t have it.
What I do still have is a passion for local theater, and as my family has grown, it’s been fun to expose my children to the wonder of the live stage. With the new 2015–2016 performing arts season beginning, now is a great time to buy tickets and make plans to attend shows with your kids in San Antonio. Here are my picks for the 2015–2016 season:
The Playhouse (800 W. Ashby Pl., San Antonio, Texas 78212 | (210) 733-7258)
If you’re looking for high-quality, high-value community theater, look no further than The Playhouse. The shows here just keep improving, and every season The Playhouse makes sure to include several shows appropriate for the whole family. The main stage in the theater is charming and makes for a great introduction to theater for elementary-aged children and older. Last season’s The Wizard of Oz received favorable reviews, and this season boasts The Music Man and A Christmas Carol as particularly great options for families. The Music Man will run October 2–November 1, and A Christmas Carol will run December 3–21. The Playhouse offers a variety of discounts for children and students. And if musical theater isn’t your thing, take your high school-aged children to see Of Mice and Men, which will run September 18–October 11 in The Playhouse’s intimate Cellar Theater.
Woodlawn Theatre (1920 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, Texas 78201 | (210) 267-8388)
Another winner for local theater is Woodlawn Theatre. Woodlawn recently wrapped a successful, largely sold-out family-friendly show, Mary Poppins, and will be performing Peter Pan from November 27–December 23 this year.
The Magik Theatre (420 S. Alamo St., San Antonio, Texas 78205 | (210) 227-2751)
If you have young children, you are most likely already acquainted with The Magik Theatre. Located downtown, The Magik Theatre brings your family’s favorite storybook characters to life on stage and produces original shows written by local artists. During its 2015–2016 season, The Magik will be performing Red (October 9–November 8), A Charlie Brown Christmas (November 20–January 3), James and the Giant Peach (January 22–February 28), Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet (March 11–April 17), Charlotte’s Web (April 29–June 12), La Cinderella (July 2–August 7), and The Lamentable Life of Captain Hook (August 20–September 18). This year, The Magik is excited to add sensory-friendly performances to its season, offering families a new way to enjoy the magic of live theater performances together. The theater plans to perform at least one sensory-friendly version of each show during their 2015–2016 season.
Children’s Fine Arts Series (3201 West Ave., San Antonio, Texas 78213 | (210) 340-4060)
When my children were very young, their first theater experiences were with this brilliant nonprofit organization, which brings high-caliber arts programming to San Antonio. The 2015–2016 season appears to be just as wonderful as it has been in the past, with favorites like Room on the Broom on November 17, Wild Kratts Live! on January 24, Clifford The Big Red Dog—Live! on February 19, Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny on March 7, 2016, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live! on April 3. They are also bringing a Children’s International Puppet Festival to San Antonio May 4–10. One of the best things about the Series is that the shows are performed in our brand new, state-of-the-art Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.