A very musical Family Picks

Spring is in full swing this weekend, with a downtown music festival, a fairy-tale ball, lots of musical theater and the United Way's "Ready, Set, Grow!" event to help kids get off to a great start. Take your pick!

DoCha! Downtown Champaign's Chamber Music Festival, Friday through Sunday, Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, 346 N. Neil St., C. Free.

From "pop up" performances to youth concerts, DoCha offers chamber music experiences designed to engage all ages. It began as a collaborative effort among University of Illinois faculty, students, community members and friends, under the coordination of  Pacifica Quartet violist Masume Rostad, to experiment with new and fun ways to present chamber music. All performances are free and at the Orpheum’s newly renovated theater.

Highlights:

— Each afternoon, Friday through Sunday: Pop-up chamber music in surprise locations. Follow them (DoChaFestival) on Twitter, Facebook and the DoCha website to find out where they appear.
— Chamber music experience/performance, 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday: Members of Pacifica Quartet will perform. Drinks and gourmet snack plates will be sold. You can also bring your own “indoor picnic,” but no outside alcoholic beverages are permitted.
— Young People’s Concert: “Introducing Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry,” noon Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday. (Friday's show is for school field trips only but will be broadcast on WILL-FM 90.9. Saturday's is open to the public.)
— Young Artist Chamber Music Competition’s winners master class, 1 p.m. Sunday.

For information: Call 352-5895  or visit www.docha.org, www.orpheumkids.com, or the DoCha Facebook page.


Go Green on Green Street! 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, along Green Street from Fourth to Wright streets. Free.

This event aims to raise awareness of major sustainability issues such as energy efficiency, green business, pollution prevention, alternative modes of transportation, water conservation and waste reduction/recycling. Enjoy live entertainment (DJs, chorus groups, dance troupes), 40 interactive booths, business deals along Green Street, raffle prizes and T-shirts.

For information: Visit www.gogreenongreen.com

Nano Days: 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, Champaign Public LIbrary, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

Come explore the miniscule world of atoms, molecules and nanoscale forces. Learn just how teeny-tiny a nanometer really is and get an up close and personal look at bugs at 40,000 times magnification using a scanning electronic microscope. Enjoy games, experiments and live demonstrations that illuminate the very weird world of the super small.

Sponsored by the Orpheum Children's Science Museum, this event is Intended for kids from kindergarten through middle school.

For information: Call 352-5895 or visit the Oprheum's website 

Fairy Tale Ball: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Urbana Free Library, Lewis Auditorium, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

Bring your little fairy to the library for music, dancing, games, crafts and royal merriment. Entertainers include the Central Illinois English Country Dancers and The Flatland Consort, storyteller Dan Keding, the Ginger Lozar Puppet Show, the Champaign-Urbana Dulcimer Society and the Uni High Madrigals. Children of all ages are welcome.

For information: Call 367-4069 or visit www.urbanafreelibrary.org

Contra dancing! 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Phillips Recreation Center, 505 W. Stoughton, U. Free.

This free family contra dance features The Tornado Alleycats string band and professional dance caller Gail Hintze. It's sponsored by the Urbana Country Dancers and is designed specifically for families with children and first-timers. If you haven't tried this American folk/roots dance form before, or if you enjoy kids, this event is for you!

For information: www.urbana-contra.org


Ready, Set, Grow! 9 a.m. to noon, Lincoln Square Village, Urbana.

This second annual event organized by the United Way of Champaign County is a one-stop resource for families with young children, with activities for the whole family. Fifty-plus vendors will be on hand, along with prizes, games, books, tricycle races, story zone, discovery zone, furry characters and much more! 

For information: Check out the News-Gazette's story or visit www.uwayhelps.org

That’s Pretty Strong! 2 p.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St.,  C. Free.

The Strong Man will bend nails! Roll frying pans! Break chains! Bring the kids to see Illinois’ own 2010 America’s Got Talent contestant, the Strong Man, perform his amazing feats.

For information: Visit www.champaign.org

Go dogs, go! Doggie Detective Egg Hunt with the Urbana Park District. 2 p.m. Saturday,, Dog Park at 1501 E. Perkins Road, U. Registration fee.

Your furry friend will get to sniff out plastic eggs filled with doggy surprises, treats and prize coupons, with your help. Leashes are required. Dogs must be at least 4 months old.

Advance registration, by 4 p.m. Friday, is $10 for residents and /$20 nonresidents; on-site registration is $18/$36 from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Saturday.

Note: Kids under age 6 are not allowed in the dog park.

For information: Visit www.urbanaparks.org


Break out the band: Centennial Band Boosters Spring Gala 2011. 4:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 S. Prospect Ave., C. Admission charge.

Enjoy a lasagna dinner (or hot dogs for the kids) and performances by the Centennial High School Concert and Jazz bands and the Franklin Middle School and Jefferson Middle School Jazz bands, along with a silent auction, live auction, raffle drawings and face-painting. Auction items include movie tickets, restaurant gift cards, yoga classes, skating, golf and more.

Admission is $5 for ages 12 and above.

For information: Visit www.chargerbands.com

Tangled? ‘Let Your Hair Down, Rapunzel,’  7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m., 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday; Urbana High School Auditorium, 1002 S. Race St.

The Champaign-Urbana Junior Woman’s Club annual Tom Thumb Theater production features a fresh, funny musical adaptation of the old fairy tale. A woman with a zany obsession for a turnip-like vegetable called "rapunzel" orders her husband to "borrow" some from a witch's garden. He's caught, of course, and promises his firstborn daughter to the witch. The daughter - Rapunzel - eventually winds up locked in a tower, and an amusing rescue attempt begins. Songs include "Just Because You're Different," "I'm a Nut" and, of course, "Let Your Hair Down."

Tickets are $7 at the door.

For information: Call 353-5005 or visit www.cujwc.org. Read more here about the performance.

Dr. Seuss! ‘Seussical Jr.,’ Champaign Park District Youth Theatre, 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park St., C. Admission charge.

The youth theatre group presents its spring musical, "Seussical Jr." In the story, Horton the Elephant must not only protect his tiny friend Jojo (and all the invisible Whos) from a world of naysayers and dangers, but also guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him, the only one who recognizes "his kind and his powerful heart." Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.

Tickets are $7 and can be purchased by phone, online or at the box office.

For information: Call 356-9063 or visit www.thevirginia.org

Joseph! 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,'' 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Unity High School Auditorium, 1127 County Road 800 N, Tolono. Admission charge.

Unity High School's drama and music departments present this popular musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The show is based on the Bible story of Joseph, son of Jacob, whose brothers are jealous of him and his "coat of many colors."

Tickets are $7.

For information: Call 485-6230. Read more about the original show here.

Tale as old as time: 'Beauty and the Beast,'  7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Holy Cross School, 410 W. White St., C. Admission charge.

The school's annual spring musical features Belle, Beast, Gaston and the gang.  Tickets are $3 for students and seniors, $5 for adults, $20 for a family of six or more. Children ages 3 and under are free.

For information: Visit www.holycrosselem.org

___________________

Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources. To submit an item, e-mail me at jwurth@news-gazette.com, or use the calendar on the News-Gazette home page, www.news-gazette.com.

Photos:

Top: Annabelle Hewitt of Sidney performs in the Conservatory of Central Illinois Playathon at Lincoln Square in Urbana in 2002.  Robert K. O’Daniell/News-Gazette file photo

Middle: Olivia Debusky of Rantoul, aka "Tinkerbell,” matches the missing slipper at the Urbana library's 2010 Fairy Tale Ball. News-Gazette file photo

Bottom: Bean, Shyla and Ugo (left to right) play at Urbana’s dog park in 2008. Vanda Bidwell/News-Gazette file photo

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