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‘Three By the Sea’ makes a splash with kids, parents

Published: Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 5:51 p.m. CDT

My kids are on to me. They’ve finally realized that part of why I take them to plays and museums and parks and for hikes is not just because that stuff is ‘good’ for them or because I think they might actually enjoy it – but because I know I will. The truth is, I’m really just a kid in a ‘mom’ body, and I’m as surprised as they are to find myself here.

This became clear last Sunday as we prepared to head to the Geneva Underground Playhouse to see a matinee of playwright Donna Latham’s latest production, the fun, family adventure “Three By the Sea.” But Holly, who’d been fighting a cold for three days and had just run for nearly 80 minutes in a soccer game that morning, was feeling downright crummy, and Noah realized the Bears were about to kick-off. So, he no longer felt like going (and Todd would stay home and hang with them). But I still wanted to go. I hated to waste three tickets – so borrowed other people’s kids.

I know, pathetic.

I ran next door to the Myers’ house. I figured that Dane, their three-year-old, would love it. Pirates and surfer dudes and mermaids? Right up his alley, I thought, as I knocked on their back door. No answer. I went to the front door. Same. The play was due to start in an hour, so I ran home and texted my friend, Laura.

“You and your little nieces wanna come with me to a play?” No can do, she replied. They had other plans. So, I called our friend, Sarah.

“I just put Lucille down for her nap,” she replied, apologizing. Foiled again, I ran outside. I knew I was missing something. There had to be children in my neighborhood, but where were they? As I stood in my front yard wracking my brain, Noah, who was just settling in on the couch for an afternoon of yelling at the television, spotted me.

“Mom, what are you doing?” he asked, through the open window, as Holly came out to see what was up. “I’m looking for children; children to take to the play.”

“Yeah, that’s not weird,” he retorted, a smile playing at his lips. But then I spotted the kids across the street. Score! Touchdown! Three and six, Piper and Jett are perfect scallywags if ever there were any. They’d love the show, I thought, as I jogged over to ambush their dad with my proposal.

Miss Piper, a blond like my Holly, who recently cut her own hair and now sports those adorable “I cut them myself” bangs that Holly also wore around that age, was excited. Her lively big brother, Jett, also loved the idea of going to the show, as did their mom, Katie, who just had her third baby last month.   Later I learned that my funny girl, who saw me standing on their front porch, quipped, “Dad, she’s holding a baby. I’m going over there to get her out of trouble.”

My neighbors and I had a great time at the play. Actually a series of three stories set in sea-side locales, the show is super entertaining and very funny, with hilarious one-liners tying the three stories together. The cast, which features talented children of all ages, is capably anchored by adults who delivered very good performances.

I know Miss Holly would have particularly loved the comical, tender story set in an 1800’s Irish fishing village of “Mina the Mermaid” and the lonely bachelor, and the third one, a more contemporary tale about “Foghorn Franny,” which is set at a New England seashore and depicts middle and high-school style situations not unlike those featured in her favorite television shows.

My own high-schooler, Noah, probably would have enjoyed “Three By the Sea” as well, in spite of himself, but the show, which is appropriate for all audiences, definitely wasn’t wasted on my little sidekicks, Piper and Jett. These two are right smack-dab in the middle of those precious, truth-telling ages.

“That was a fun, fun show,” volunteered little Piper, after she scrambled back into her car seat. Her big brother agreed.

“I really liked the show,” Jett commented. “It was really funny.”

He even marched right up to Playwright Donna Latham after the final bows were taken to tell her so. Their mom was thoroughly entertained, too. She particularly liked the set design, and enjoyed talking to Cheryl Newman, the Director, about the trials and tribulations of crafting her clever, versatile set. Neither of us had ever been to this intimate, comfortable theater, and we look forward to returning for future performances.

For showtimes and tickets for “Three By the Sea,” which runs weekends through Sept. 23, visit www.guptheater.org.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at jenniferdubose@msn.com.

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