4 ways to soak up summer theater

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, and the season for outdoor revelry certainly hasn’t yet rolled up the welcome mat. Here are four of our favorite picks for enjoying the kid-friendly arts scene during what’s arguably Chicagoland’s best season.

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Collaboraction, long known for its social activism and no-holds-barred brand of theater, is taking to the streets this summer. It will be converging on three Chicago Park District locales with seven world premieres showcased at each spot. Fast-paced blends of theater, dance and spoken word performances (clocking in at under seven minutes each), these free shows will encourage and cultivate peace throughout a city that can only benefit from its smallest citizens doing their part, too.

Aug. 12-27

Free

Tavern at Little Fort’s “Mr. Dave” Summer Series

Any time you mix children’s concerts with a build-your-own mimosa bar, you’ve got the true definition of “family friendly.” Mr. Dave, he of the near-fanatical Wiggleworms fame, invites kids to step lively with his Beer Garden Bear Hunt show at this Northcenter eatery. In between all of that singer/songwriter adoration (because the guy’s got a serious musical pedigree), maybe they’ll take a break for a Kids’ Menu brunch of mac n’ cheese or mini corn dogs. Meanwhile, between the Breakfast Burger, a Bloody Mary bar and that mimosa station, you’ll be singing a pretty sweet tune yourself.

Aug. 13

$8 per person for concert series (Free kids 12 months and under)

Broadway in Chicago Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert

What happens when Broadway musical lovers join forces with Millennium Park lovers? Multi-octave magic, pure and simple. Where else can you get a sneak peek of the show tunes that’ll be overloading your iPod come autumn while fan-girling (and fan-guying) over the stars themselves?

Kids will want to have their magic carpets as close as possible for Disney’s Aladdin, while you’ll need prime grooving space once The Bodyguard’s cast (starring R&B sensation Deborah Cox) hits the stage. And a brand spanking new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera? This might be the only time you’ll hear it sung by thousands of fans in unison.

Aug. 15

Free

Dancin Sprouts at the Chicago Botanic Garden

The floral paradise you’ve long enjoyed is a surprisingly wonderful bet for family-

focused evenings, too. Every Wednesday night features a different performer (Duke Otherwise, Leonardo and the Makin’ Waves Band, and Wendy& D.B. and the Band are just a few of the headliners your kids probably already dig). Aug. 10’s show is The Exceptionals, created by Old Town School of Folk Music faculty to accommodate children with sensory differences, with all families welcome. Picnicking before each show is encouraged on the Esplanade and dancing up a storm is downright mandatory.

Wednesday evenings in August

$25 per parked car, admission/concert series free

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