Critter Theater

Playhouse Square works out the bugs.

Cuddly caterpillars take center stage in Very Eric Carle.
Cuddly caterpillars take center stage in Very Eric Carle.
SAT 1/10

In the world of kiddie lit, even a confused chameleon knows it's best to be himself. That's one of the lessons shared in Very Eric Carle, a series of vignettes based on the author's books for children. The show, part of the Children's Theatre Series at Playhouse Square, takes place Saturday at the Ohio Theatre.

"The beautiful thing is that little kids know these books, so they sit in the audience and repeat them," says Colleen Porter, education director for Playhouse Square. The stories are about a befuddled chameleon, a hungry caterpillar, and an industrious spider that spins a web while being distracted by farm animals.

Carle's books are known for their simple text, bold colors, and textured pages -- all of which captivate a kid's senses and imagination. "[The show] is in black light, so there's this real vibrancy to it in a collage format," Porter says. At the end, the four black-clad puppeteers shed their hoods and reveal that the whole production was make-believe. "[Kids] are so surprised that people were doing it," says Porter. "It's the magic of live theater, because you don't know how they were doing it." Very Eric Carle is at 11 a.m., 2, and 5:30 p.m. at the Ohio Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $15; call 216-241-6000. -- Cris Glaser

Juneau Alaska?
Jared Shoup does. And he's set to tell all about it.

FRI 1/9

Not many eight-year-olds have heard of the Alaska Gold Rush. Jared Shoup is obsessed with it. The Cuyahoga Falls resident spent his summer vacation in the Last Frontier, snapping photos and taking notes. In North to Alaska, Shoup details with a slide show the history behind the 1849 gold craze. "He's very articulate for his age," says Pat Rydquist, a Summit County Metro Parks naturalist. "We can get so excited about seeing things through the eyes of children. When they take an interest in something, it rejuvenates us." North to Alaska takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the F.A. Seiberling Naturealm Visitors Center, 1828 Smith Road in Akron. Admission is free. Call 330-865-8065 for more info. -- Cris Glaser