ON THE HORIZON: Future family fun

My wish for you all this December is that you have time to reflect on the year that has passed, and that you remember to slow down a bit.

Rythmo! will be coming to Horizon Stage in January. Haggis Black

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Welcome to December everyone! It’s that time of year again when we are reminded how precious our time is with family and friends, when we are encouraged to think of others, and when we wonder how we’ll ever get it all done. My wish for you all this December is that you have time to reflect on the year that has passed, and that you remember to slow down a bit. I think that is really the challenge – to let go of what we feel we “have” to do, and replace them with what we “want” to do. I believe we all want to be happy, to spend time with people we care about, and to enjoy life.

First, stop feeling guilty. HA! Easier said than done, you reply. But if you boil it down to the really important things, we get rid of guilt and replace it with intention and compassion. I might think I need to buy a lot of gifts for a lot of people, but what I’d rather do is spend time with them, showing them how much I value our relationship. Make a date and go to a pottery class, visit an art gallery, or take in a show at Horizon Stage. Of course that might sound self-serving for us because I want you to buy tickets, but think about it. Making time for friends and family, intentionally putting the world on hold for a couple of hours, and a live performance is a valuable way to say “I care about you and your happiness”.

For example: for Christmas this year we are taking my kids to Nashville to see a show at the Ryman Auditorium. In fact, we leave tonight. We’ll have a few days of nothing but music, food, museums, and time together, and you can’t get that online. Christmas morning will have very little under the tree, but we’ll be able to share the stories of all the stuff we saw and did together. Obviously we can’t do this all the time (unless someone shares their lottery winnings with us), but we decided to take the plunge and make these memories while we can.

With that in mind, and on a much smaller scale, I bring your attention to the family shows we have coming to the theatre in January and February. If you have young kids, or grandkids, I hope you’ll consider spending time with them at the theatre a worthwhile investment. Letting them see you participate, be silly, and play with them can do wonders for your relationship now and serve as great memories when they get older. That’s what will happen when you come to Rythmo! on January 11. Samajam is a group from Quebec that specializes in super-fun shows for youngsters and their grown-ups. They’ve been making music together and with their audiences for over 10 years, and I’m so excited to finally have them at Horizon Stage. It’s taken a couple of years, but I’m happy to say that a whole lot of venues worked together to get them into 10 theatres across Alberta and BC. The tag line is “you are the show” and they’re not kidding. Everyone in the audience gets something to play music with. EVERYONE. How fun is that, I mean really? This one is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned if you want to have a fun afternoon with the little ones in your life.

Let loose. Be silly. Make memories.

A couple weeks later, Rattle and Strum will entertain the really little ones. January 27 is our Munchkin Matinee for those aged 6 and under. Gentle, fun, and totally relatable, Rattle and Strum played for us on Canada Day, but since they got pretty soggy in the rain, we convinced them to come back and play with us at the theatre. Songs about ants in their pants, peanut butter that gets everywhere, and wild turkeys will get your kids feeling groovy and singing along. I’m so glad to be able to bring entertainers to the stage that genuinely love playing for children and do it well. It’s about their ability to connect with their audience and not talk down to them (I seriously dislike that) while sharing really good music with them. Heather and Steve are great musicians as well as parents, and they simply love what they do. I hope you’ll spend the morning experiencing music together.

Then on February 1, another Canada Day alumni group returns to Spruce Grove. Tiny Islands is a four-piece band of brothers and friends who believe that the jazz music of the 20s and 30s is so irresistible that kids need to hear it. I know that sounds a little weird. Jazz is weird and unknown and the music is old – why would I bring my children to that? Simply put – because it’s AWESOME. Trombone, trumpet, drum, saxophone, double bass, and catchy lyrics all combine to make a show that I really don’t know how anyone can sit still through. The music of Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and Louis Armstrong is the stuff on New Orleans legends, and you’ll be singing it for days after the show. How incredible to hear your kids singing “When the Saints go Marching In” or “Minnie the Moocher” instead of the movie soundtrack songs you’ve grown so tired of! You’re welcome parents – truly.

OK so before I rush off to the airport, a couple of last things. Don’t forget the compassion part from the beginning of this column. We will be collecting cash and non-perishable food for the Parkland Food Bank from now through the end of December. Please consider helping them out with a donation when you come to any show at Horizon Stage, if you are able. Thank you, and I’ll see you soon!

Brandi Watson is the theatre manager at Horizon Stage