Choosing Walton Arts Center performances for your family

Our new season has begun, and we want to make sure you get the most out of your visit to Walton Arts Center this year! With school back in session, we thought it would be a perfect time to focus on kids, and help navigate the path to choosing performances for the young ones in your life. We do put content warnings on a lot of our shows when it's available to us, but every parent (and child) is different, and what may be comfortable to one family may not be to another.

Photo by Bill FritschWe asked our friends over at NWA Motherlode to help us out, and let us know what shows they're excited about bringing their children to see this season at Walton Arts Center. Well, wouldn't you know those fabulous ladies went above & beyond and asked some of their readers that same question too so you all could have more information!

Gwen Rockwood of NWA Motherlode:

How old are your children? What shows are you excited to see with them this season?

My kids are 10, 8 and 5 – two boys and a girl. We are all really excited about seeing STOMP. And my two boys can’t wait to see Shrek on stage. My oldest son also wants to see WarHorse, and both boys want to check out Potted Potter because they are both fans of the Harry Potter series. My 5-year-old daughter is most looking forward to the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater and Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild LIVE.

How do you choose which shows to attend at Walton Arts Center?

We ask ourselves this question: “Have we ever seen anything like this before?” And if the answer is no, we try to get tickets to the show. For example, we knew that Blue Man Group is a one-of-a-kind experience that the kids would remember for a long time, so we made sure to leave room in the family budget to buy those tickets. We also base it on what experiences we most want to share with them. For example, I wanted to take my daughter on a special “Mom and daughter” outing after she recovered from getting her tonsils removed. We chose to go see Beauty and the Beast at Walton Arts Center one year. She had just seen the Disney film and it was the perfect event for us to attend together. We both loved it and have special pictures from that day in our family photo album.

With so many options, how do you decide that a show is a good fit for a particular age or personality?

I read, read, read! I’m a big believer in the fact that other parents will tell you what you need to know. So I go online to read reviews of the show written by other parents. If they mention that there are some scary parts, then I know it’s not a good fit for my 8-year-old and 5-year-old who are prone to having bad dreams. I also go on YouTube to try to find promotional clips of the actual performance so I can get a glimpse of what the show might be like. It’s also really helpful when the theater gives an age range as a guideline for parents to use when choosing shows for the whole family.

Shrek the Musical production photoNWA Motherlode reader Sarah White:

My daughter is about to be three and I haven't taken her to any shows yet; she actually only saw her first movie a couple of weeks ago, which was a good test of her attention span! This will probably be the first year I take her to see something, which should be a lot of fun.

I would LOVE to take her to Stomp, because she loves drums and her dad was a drummer in high school. But it might be a little loud for tiny ears. I'm sure Guess How Much I Love You would be a better starter show. Or the Dinosaur Petting Zoo, if I didn't think it would scare her.

So that offers some insight into how I would decide what shows to take her to: what age it might be appropriate for, her attention span, the noise level or potential scariness of large, loud objects and just what I think she would find fun. I'm not sure she's ready for something that isn't interactive and requires sitting down; she loves to dance and participate.

Guess How Much I Love YouNWA Motherlode reader Rosemary Rincon:

My children are 4 and 2. I am excited to take them to see Guess How Much I Love You, Dance Brazil, We're Going on a Bear Hunt and The Velveteen Rabbit.

In the past I have always chosen every show to take them to regardless of the appropriate age they list on the show because I know every WAC show is awesome. Sometimes we have been lucky with shows, even if it said it was for middle school age and other times it was just too way over their head. This year because I am bringing a 2 year old with me, I decided to be more age specific and only go to the shows listed for lower elementary age. The price is fantastic and the shows always are also, we love going!

The Velveteen Rabbit presented by ODC/DanceWe hope this helps you and your family as you plan your visits to Walton Arts Center this season. Many thanks to the ladies at NWA Motherlode, and their readers, for helping us bring this information to our patrons!