Live at the Noodle Factory
with David Landau
In an era when children's music videos by artists like the Doodlebops and Ralph's World feature enough props and crazy camerawork to give kids (and their parents) sensory overload, it's good to know there still are guys like David Landau around. On his first DVD for children, the balding, bearded guitarist for Madison's popular Cork n' Bottle String Band gets away with a live performance fueled by little more than enthusiasm and imagination. Filmed last September on location at RP's Pasta Company on Madison's east side, Live at the Noodle Factory captures an engaging 31-minute interactive concert experience featuring Landau performing traditional and original children's music in front of a few dozen preschool and elementary school children. With a slightly goofball voice that suits songs like "Apples and Bananas," "Wheels on the Bus" and "Lady with the Alligator Purse," Landau makes these often silly performances more appealing than those on his two children's CDs. In a separate segment, he provides an inside look at RP's noodle-making process, and the accompanying booklet even includes a recipe for RP's pasta.
- Michael Popke
Not a Box
By Antoinette Portis
This simple picture book shows how a box and imagination can entertain a child for hours. A little bunny imagines his box as a spaceship, a mountain, a race car, all the while insisting to an offstage "adult" voice that his toy is "not a box." As kids ever younger are learning to use computers and playing videogames, it's important to remember that a kid's imagination doesn't need much fuel to go far. Portis has also penned a sequel, Not a Stick, featuring a charming piglet. As Booklist has pointed out, these may remind boomers of Crockett Johnson's classic Harold and the Purple Crayon, although they're even less complex. For babies to preschoolers.
- Linda Falkenstein
San Francisco-based family rockers the Sippy Cups titled their first (and so far only) album Electric Storyland! - an obvious homage to Jimi Hendrix - and their engaging live shows often include "I Wanna Be Elated," a kid-friendly version of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated." They sing fun songs like "Drinking from the Sky" and "How to Build a Dog," they've played Lollapalooza and, best of all, their music is perfectly appropriate for your kids. The Sippy Cups will roll into the Majestic Theatre on July 6, for an 11 a.m. performance with multigenerational appeal. It'll include juggling unicyclists, oversized puppets and sensitive superheroes. The five guys and one woman - all parents of young children - got their start three years ago playing cover tunes by the Beatles and the Velvet Underground and writing their own songs about playgrounds and such set to music inspired by Nirvana and Pink Floyd. 608-255-0901, majesticmadison.com.
Aspiring young actors who participated in the three-week Children's Theater of Madison's Summer Drama School will show off their talent during two youth productions at the Fredric March Play Circle at the UW Memorial Union. Once Upon a Mattress, the musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale The Princess and the Pea, will be staged July 11-12, and the Moliere comedy The Trickeries of Scapin will be performed Aug. 1-2. Curtain time Fridays is 7:30 p.m., with shows at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays. All are welcome at these free performances; no advance reservations will be accepted. 608-255-2080, ctmtheater.org.
- Michael Popke