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Fall's Family Cornucopia

Sing-alongs, books and Broadway musicals are all part of the upcoming theater fare.


Variety is the keyword for this autumn's family theater options. A sampling:

For Little Kids and Big Kids, Too: Storybook Theatre at Theater West is reviving its cheery, very interactive musical for preschool and early elementary-age kids, "The Circus Is Coming to Town," with new songs (Oct. 4-indefinitely).

Also, Theatre West's new Youth Theatre, a professional adult company targeting ages 10 to 14, presents its inaugural show, "Just Too Cool," Mary Garripoli's new musical adaptation of Jamie Callan's novel about a young rocker who learns something about character from her "cool" friends and the class nerd (Sept. 21-Dec. 21).

With (and Without) Strings Attached: Puppets, exotic and home-grown, aren't just hanging around. The veteran Jim Gamble Puppet company puts on its fairy tale frolic, "Hansel & Gretel" at Brea Civic Cultural Center's Curtis Theatre on Sept. 28, and the historic Bob Baker Marionette Theatre will open its newest musical puppet extravaganza, "The Enchanted Toy Shop," for an open-ended run, beginning Nov. 8.

Meanwhile, UCLA will present Hanoi's celebrated Thang Long Puppet Troupe's "Vietnamese Water Puppets"--brightly painted, 4-foot tall people and mythical creatures that perform in an artificial pond of water--at Sunset Canyon Amphitheater, Oct. 11-12.

Broadway Ballyhoo: Consider yourself at home at Theater League's revival of "Oliver!," the ever-popular musical loosely based on Dickens' "Oliver Twist." Starring Andrea McArdle--Broadway's original "Annie"--and Richard Kline, it'll be at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Sept. 19-28. Or choose sides as the Sharks and Jets mix it up when that musical saga of star-crossed lovers, "West Side Story," makes a national tour stop at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (Sept. 23-25).

Olympics champ-turned-stage-star Cathy Rigby is reprising her Tony Award-nominated role as "Peter Pan" in an all new production of the family favorite at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (Nov. 7-23). And that powerhouse of percussion, the acclaimed, high-decibel, theatrical spectacular, "Stomp," will make a tour stop at the Terrace Theatre at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center (Nov. 11-16).

Book It: Children's literature and one adult classic take the stage this fall: Serendipity Theatre Co. will present "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile" (Sept. 20-Oct. 26), based on Bernard Waber's beloved children's book character, and "Cinderella" (Nov. 8-Dec. 21) at Burbank Little Theatre in George Izay Park. Laguna Playhouse's Youth Theatre, a troupe of children, teens and some adults that is known for its lavishly staged productions at the Moulton Theatre in Laguna Beach, is putting on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" (Oct. 17-26). And the touring Children's Storybook Theatre is bringing "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" to Pepperdine University's Smothers Theatre on Oct. 11.

Trills, Thrills and Chills: Make it a family sing-along at "Broadway Show Stoppers," with the Sing! Sing! Sing! company at the Jazz Bakery. Song sheets are provided for everyone to croon along to selections from such shows as "Oklahoma!" "South Pacific," "A Chorus Line" and "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" (Sept. 21). Illusion and sleight-of-hand take the spotlight in "It's Magic!," at Escondido's California Center for the Arts (Nov. 1). Also, "Nutcracker on Ice," with an all-star cast to be announced, will glide into Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (Nov. 28-30).

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