I always thought that if dragons dined on anything, it would be shish kebabs, because they have a built-in way to cook them.
I now understand, however, that dragons love tacos. A pretty cute play at the Rose Theater told me so.
“Dragons Love Tacos,” directed by Denise Chapman, captivated excited elementary schoolchildren from across the city at a Friday morning preview.
Here’s what your kids will love
» The kooky story. Boy (Dana Pittman) and his dog LeRoy (Krysta Stock) are at loose ends when Mom goes to pick up dinner. Boy had been fighting a tough math problem, but Mom encouraged him to take a break. He starts to channel-surf and runs across a manic TV pitchman (Al Kroeten) who claims to have the inside story on dragons. Pretty soon, the guy’s pushing his knowledge in the middle of Boy’s living room.
The accomplished cast, including four lively dragons (Alisha Davis, Nadia Ra’Shaun Williams, Karl Houser and Matthew Kischer), brings a lot of joy to the stage. You can tell they love the material. The dragons are funny and endearing. The pitch-perfect Kroeten is the glue that holds it together. And it’s all accomplished with a minimum of words. When Boy finally utters a phrase, it’s monumental.
» The audience participation. The pitchman, referred to as Man in Suit in the credits, turns to the kids for answers to pertinent questions, such as the perfect taco toppings. The kids catch on quickly, and pretty soon they’re positively screaming at the stage.
» The production’s picture-book quality. Jeff Stander apparently used every color that exists on a clever set that consists of Boy’s house, both exterior and interior. For kids, it’s like stepping into a favorite children’s book. Costumes by Sherri Geerdes, including multi-hued dragons with shiny scales, complete the look. Sets elsewhere rarely are as vividly colorful as they are at the Rose.
» Special effects. Taco lettuce lights up. The stage “catches fire.” Somehow, it looks like a program is actually broadcasting from the freakishly big and cartoonlike TV set in the living room. (OK, parents will like this, too.) Credit goes to lighting designer Craig S. Moxon and sound designer Christy Hernandez.
What you will like
» The messages. That pitchman is way more than just an infomercial huckster. His trademark phrase is a motto your family can embrace: “With a little drive and determination, amazing things can happen.” It inspires Boy, and it can inspire your kids. The dragons also show some responsibility for their actions in the end.
» The wonderful flamenco and Latin-style guitar music that accompanies much of the action.
» Watching young people have such a pure and simple good time. This show is aimed squarely at kids. It has an uncomplicated and somewhat repetitive story that doesn’t move too fast, so it’s not super-engaging for anyone older than middle school age. In adapting Adam Rubin’s book, writer Ernie Nolan put in few of the sly asides that others sometimes put in children’s plays for the benefit of adults.
So, though I found my mind wandering at times, I derived my joy from seeing the kids’ reactions. Not a bad way to spend a morning at work.
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This complete guide of local music, movies, dining and entertainment will have you weekend ready.
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Discover all things vintage at the three-day Junkstock festival. This year’s event — which will be held at the Sarpy County Fairgrounds at 100 Main St. in Springfiield, Nebraska — will include more than 200 vendors, more than 20 food trucks, live music and kids activities, including bounce houses, face painting, pony rides and more. Admission is $10 for a day pass or $20 for a three-day pass. Kids 12 and under are free. Hours are Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More.
On Sunday, come to Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St., for a day of family fun, including inflatables, Zumba, mascot races, obstacle courses and more. Goodie bags and bike helmets will be given away while supplies last. The free event goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. More.
The 2019 Nebraska Renaissance Faire & Midlands Pirate Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday at Riverwest Park, 23301 West Maple Road in Elkhorn. The event will include multiple stages of entertainment, merchant bazaar, artisan goods, food and drink, children’s realm, 200 costumed characters and games of skill. Cost is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 5 to 15. Kids 4 and younger are free. More.
Fontenelle Forest hosts a drop-in Mud Pies class Thursday for kids up to age 5. The class is a chance to connect kids to the natural world and includes hands-on learning and technology-free play both indoors and out. This week’s theme is Earth Day. One adult is required per two children. The class will take place at 9:30 a.m. and is $3 per child for members or $5 per child with daily admission. Fontenelle Forest is at 1111 Bellevue Blvd. North. More.
Come to the Rose Theater to see this funny adaptation of Adam Rubin’s book, “Dragons Love Tacos.” The show will run through Sunday, May 12. Tickets are $20 each. The show is appropriate for all ages and is 45 minutes long. More.
Put your family on a path of discovery and good fitness this summer. We’ve come up with 10 destinations with kid-friendly things to see and do along the foot trails. See the list here.
Hy-Vee Friday Fireworks returns to Werner Park on Friday. Watch the Storm Chasers take on the Memphis Redbirds at 7:05 p.m. and then watch the post-game fireworks. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $8. More.
Children and families can learn about “The Great Dying: Earth’s Darkest Hour” with professors and students on Sunday at the University of Nebraska State Museum, 645 N. 14th St. in Lincoln. Sunday’s event, which goes from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., will focus on the Permian-Triassic extinction event that took place at the end of the Paleozoic Era, 252 million years ago. Learn about life during that time, do a “pangea puzzle” and see what a geologist sees. Cost is $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 5-18 and free for kids 4 and younger. More.
Come explore some of the things that have been stored in Omaha Children’s Museum’s attic. The special exhibit, which goes through Sept. 1, includes popular interactive pieces from past exhibits, as well as a scavenger hunt. The fun is included with museum admission. The Omaha Children’s Museum is at 500 S. 20th St. More.
The Omaha Children’s Museum will host a special Earth Day program through Friday from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. During the program, kids will learn about plants and receive a Plum Landing goodie bag while supplies last. The museum is located at 500 S. 20th St. More.
Come decked out in your favorite superhero costume Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. at Marcus Majestic Cinema, 14304 West Maple Road. Prizes will be awarded. Winners will be announced Sunday at noon on Facebook. No masks or weapons allowed. More.
Learning Express of Omaha, 120 Regency Parkway, will host a free pajama spa party from 4 to 5 p.m. Bring a friend and relax with some hair chalk, nail art and sparkly tattoos. More.
La Vista will host its annual Arbor Day celebration Thursday at 10 a.m. There will be an outdoor storytime and an Arbor Day tree planting. Afterward, come to Southwind Park, 8120 S. 92nd Ave. to play. There will be a special gift for children who attend. More.
The Durham Museum’s new exhibit, “Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith,” explores America’s bold experiment in government “of, by and for the people.” The exhibit explores the origins of democracy, the changing identify of eligible voters, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. The exhibit, which is open until June 23, is included with museum exhibit. More.
Come to Morrill Hall in the University of Nebraska State Museum to see a new temporary exhibit that explores the history of paleontology. Kids and families will learn why Nebraska has the best record of mammal evolution in the Great Plains. The museum is at 645 N. 14th St. in Lincoln. More.
Come to the Durham Museum Saturday for a free public science expo as part of the Nebraska Science Festival. Kids and families can participate in fun and engaging hands-on learning opportunities. Download a free ticket here. The Durham Museum is located at 801 S. 10th St. More.
Come check out a life-sized adventure through the fauna and fearsome flora of Lauritzen Gardens. Dinosaur UpROAR is the newest indoor exhibit and will offer a realistic glimpse into the prehistoric world, allowing visitors to experience what life was like millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The exhibit will feature 20 life-sized dinosaurs ranging from a 14-inch Sordes to a 33-foot Daspletosaur. There will also be discovery stations, educational activities and special events throughout the exhibit. The fun is included with paid admission, which is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6 through 12. The garden is free to members and children 5 and younger. The exhibit will run through May 12. More.
Omaha is home to more than 200 parks, and many include playgrounds, trails and other attractions. Check out the list here, and explore a new park with your kids.
The Omaha metro area has several indoor play areas for families to enjoy. They include Pump It Up, Backyard Playworld and BounceU in Omaha, and Jumpin Jax in Papillion. Oak View Mall and Westroads Mall also have fun indoor play areas. Check out Approach Climbing Gym at 4923 S. 72nd St. It offers day passes, instructional classes, youth programs and more. Several local gymnastic places also have open gym time, including Metro Stars Gymnastics, Premier Gymnastics, Airborne Academy, Go! Kids Gym and Kid's Body Shop. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, 28500 W. Park Highway in Ashland, Nebraska, features an on-site indoor activity center.
Take an afternoon to go roller skating with your kids. You can laugh at each other while you fall down again and again. Check out Skate City, 1220 S. Fort Crook Road in Bellevue.
Do Space, Omaha's community tech space, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Plus it's free. Check out five things to do at Do Space here.
There are tons of organizations that host weekday and weekend storytimes.
Join the Omaha Public Library at Lauritzen Gardens on Friday for stories that celebrate gardens, plants, insects and more. Kids will also discover the joys of nature, movement, music and literature. The event is geared toward preschool-aged kids, but all ages are welcome. The program is free. Lauritzen Gardens is at 100 Bancroft St. Register here. Other storytimes include Barnes and Noble (Oak View and Crossroads), Pottery Barn Kids, Leader Reader at the Omaha Children's Museum, the Omaha Public Library branches, the Gretna Public Library, the Bellevue Public Library, the La Vista Public Library, the Sump Memorial Library in Papillion, the Baright Public Library in Ralston and the Plattsmouth Public Library.
Are your kids animal lovers? If so, there are several ways they can help the animals at the Nebraska Humane Society, including reading to them during adoption hours. Check out more fun ways here.
The Omaha, Bellevue and Council Bluffs Public Libraries are currently offering free day passes to Fontenelle Forest. Each pass admits two adults and children from their household. More information can be found at each library.
Community centers offer something for every member of your family — from infants to senior citizens. For a full list of community centers, click here.
Several area organizations host craft time for children every weekend. Kids can create a free craft Saturday at Lakeshore Learning Store from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Finally, kids 3 and older can make paper flowers for mom Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon with the Michaels Kids Club. Sign up online or drop in. The cost ranges from $2 to $5 per project, supplies included.
The Ralston Arena offers public ice skating for $5, with free ice skate rental. The Motto McLean Ice Arena inside Hitchcock Park near 45th and Q Streets offers Family Skate time Sunday from 4 to 6:15 p.m.
We put together a list of must-see spots across the state. How many of these destinations can you cross off your Cornhusker bucket list?