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Bay Area Children's Theatre and Children's Fairyland Develops BLOOM KABLOOM! for Babies and Toddlers

A make-believe garden where giant flowers unfurl and it's OK to hop around in puddles! That's what babies and toddlers can explore at Bloom Kaboom!, the Bay Area's first-ever interactive show for children aged six months to four years.

Jointly developed and presented by the Bay Area Children's Theatre (BACT) and Children's Fairyland, Bloom Kaboom! is a story experience specially designed to engage very young children, with a small audience size and content suited to their unique early developmental needs.

Bloom Kaboom! opens Saturday, February 20, at 9 a.m. at the BACT Performance Hall, 2162 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, CA 94611, and plays Fridays at 9 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. through April 17.

TICKETS: $15 per person. Group Rate is $13 per person (min 15). Everyone must have a ticket.

BOX OFFICE: www.bactheatre.org or call (510) 296-4433

From the moment the very young audience members and their families enter the intimate "garden," where a "squirrel" scampers for acorns, "butterflies" flutter, and a "bee" buzzes from flower to flower, the actors will invite them to sing together and join in exploring the question, "What do you do in a garden?"

"We created this unique theatre experience for very young children to encourage their growth and learning and to introduce them to the arts by giving them creative opportunities to play, sing, and imagine together," said BACT Executive Director Nina Meehan. "In our modern world, where parents struggle to balance their children's real life experience with the ever-present opportunities and distractions of 'screen time,' we are delighted to bring live, three-dimensional, multi-sensory, interactive theatre into the lives of families with very young children."

Theatre for the Very Young (TVY) originated in Europe and is popular in this country in Minneapolis, Seattle, New York, and Chicago. Inspired by this model of professional theatre for babies and toddlers, Meehan developed Bloom Kaboom! in partnership with Doyle Ott, director, Children's Theatre Program at Children's Fairyland, and Emmy Award-winning physical actor Slater Penney, who also performs in the production.

Ott has brought his acting and clowning expertise to BACT as the Cat in the Hat, and has directed The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for the company. He oversees all aspects of Fairyland's Children's Theatre as well as establishing and maintaining community partnerships with arts and educational organizations via the use of the park's theatre facilities. Ott directs, performs, and teaches throughout the Bay Area. As a scholar, he presents and publishes research dealing with theatre and circus education internationally. In addition to his duties at Fairyland, Doyle lectures in theatre at Sonoma State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University, an MA in Arts Education from San Francisco State University, and a BA from UC Irvine. He is also a graduate of San Francisco's Clown Conservatory.

Penney has engaged young audiences for BACT with his comedic performance as the Little Engine That Could. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a BA in Theatre Arts, Penney furthered his training at the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. He won an Emmy Award in 2001 with Tech TV for body performance for motion capture. Penney's teaching credits for youth and adult circus arts and physical theatre include Berkeley Repertory's School of Theatre, Kinetic Arts, Marin Shakespeare, Marin Theatre Company, Sacramento State University, San Francisco's Circus Center, Teatro Zinzanni, Trapeze Arts, and the University of California, Davis. He served as director of preschool at Luna Gymnastics and was recently seen at the Aurora Theater Company in an original production, "The Submarine Show," with Jaron Hollander.

Performing with Penney will be Laura Ricci, a clown, actor and arts educator with performance credits in the Bay Area and beyond and 15 years of experience teaching theater and circus to children and adults. She is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mills College, the Clown Conservatory at San Francisco Circus Center and the Arts in Education Masters Program at Harvard University, where she spent a semester studying movement and choreography with Liz Lerman. In 2012 she served as clown choreographer for BACT's production of The Cat in the Hat and is thrilled to return as a performer for Bloom Kaboom! Ricci dedicates her performance to "a true master of pretend-play," her three-year-old daughter, Arcadia.

Meehan is a founding company member of BACT, where she has directed numerous productions, including, most recently, The Day the Crayons Quit, the Musical andJames and the Giant Peach. She champions new works for young audiences and has produced original adaptations of BACT's award-winning Where the Mountain Meets the Moon; Ivy+Bean, the Musical; Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, the Musical, and many others. An award-winning youth theatre director, she has worked throughout the Bay Area as an actress, educator, storyteller, and director. Meehan serves on the Theatre Services Committee for Theatre Bay Area and the Board of Directors for TYA/USA. She received her BS in Theatre from Northwestern University and her Masters in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco. She has three children, the youngest of whom is four months old.

Photo Credit: David M. Auslander


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