Gallenstein, who grew up in Dayton and now lives in Kettering, has fond memories of going to the theater as a child. “We didn’t go often and when we had things to do in downtown Dayton it was a real treat,” she recalls. “As I got older, I became more interested in theater, in art, in the Broadway series of Dayton.” She wanted to introduce her young relatives to the kind of art experiences she enjoys so much.
Dayton Children’s Family Series proved to be the perfect way to achieve all of her goals. For the past eight years, Gallenstein has been buying tickets to the live shows and taking the kids who are available on any given day. That is also the case this year; she has bought three tickets for each of the upcoming presentations: “Dinosaur World Live” on Feb. “Schoolhouse Rock” on March 5-6 and Peking Acrobats on March 16. Due to COVID, the production of “Madagascar The Musical”, originally scheduled for May 3, has been cancelled.
The hit series, now in its 35th year, brings family-friendly touring productions to Dayton stages. Many are aimed at children as young as three years old; most are an hour long, many are interactive. Five years ago, sensory-friendly performances were added to the mix and were a great option for families with autistic children and others who need a judgment-free experience in the theater, where loud or jarring sounds are reduced, the absence of flashes or strobe lighting on stage, adjustment of house lighting during the performances and all customers are free to vocalize or move around the theater.
The live productions have also been a blessing to Jennifer Dietsch of Fairborn and her 12-year-old son, Brandon, who has cerebral palsy.
“Because of his disability, Brandon is not a TV or screen kid,” explains his mother. “We took him to ‘Sesame Street Live’ years ago and he loved every part of the experience – the big theater and the proximity to other kids where he was one of the gangs and there wasn’t that much of a difference in skills. He was just completely entranced. We have been going to live theater ever since.”
Dietsch says that her son has always loved music and dance and reads all kinds of books. “The shows were another way to bring the books to life,” she says. “They are so culturally diverse.”
Meet Gary Minyard
As Vice President of Education and Engagement of Dayton Live, Gary Minyard has programmed the series for the past eight years. His goal, he says, is to provide a variety of genres, stories, themes, and styles.
“We’ve slowly added more shows to our family series offerings over the years,” notes Minyard. “That means we not only perform on Saturdays all year round, but also on other days of the week. We know that families have tight schedules and opening the calendar has allowed Dayton Live to offer more variety for everyone.”
He’s especially excited this season to bring “Schoolhouse Rock Live” to town. “This show is a fun, fast-paced journey through a familiar story with some characters we all know and love,” Minyard says. “The tour is from Childsplay, Inc. from Tempe, Arizona and their award-winning productions are always entertaining. We also offer a sensory-friendly performance of ‘Schoolhouse Rock’. “
Gallenstein says it’s not just her nieces and nephews who love the special outings; They also. “In the past we made a day of it. I pick them up, we have lunch at Uno’s where they get to make their own pizza, we enjoy the show and then we have dessert and they make their own ice cream sundaes.” Most recently, she took her 8-year-old nephew to “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” in December and said he talked about it for days.
While shows on Saturdays are always useful, Gallenstein thinks the quality of productions has improved since Dayton Live added weekday performances. “We saw ‘Dinosaur Live’ a few years ago when it was here and my niece and nephew loved it.”
At the moment they are all looking forward to the “Beijing Acrobats” because one of the children is a gymnast. The talented group performs daring maneuvers atop a precarious pagoda of chairs and also does trick cycling, precision tumbling, juggling, flips and gymnastics. Live musicians play traditional Chinese instruments.
Minyard says: “I’m always looking for high quality products and things that feel new and present. We are looking at providing a variety of experiences for families.”
HOW TO GO:
What: “Dinosaur World Live”
When: 7.30pm, Wednesday 2 February
Where: Victoria Theater, 138 N. Main St., Dayton
Tickets: $29 Call (937) 228-3630 or go to
What: “Schoolhouse Rock Live”
When: 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM, Saturday, March 5. A sensory performance is on the program on Sunday 6 March at 2 p.m
Where: Victoria Theater
Tickets: $18-30. The sensory-friendly feat is $20.
What: Beijing Acrobats
When: Wednesday, March 16, 7.30 p.m.
Where: Victoria Theater
Accessibility: Gesture interpretation and/or audio description available on request. Please let the ticket agent know if you would like any of these services at least two weeks before the performance when ordering your tickets from Dayton Live.
Safety: masks mandatory for customers from 6 years old.
If you believe that the COVID-19 conditions make it unsafe for you to attend a performance/event at any of the Dayton Live venues, please contact us at (937) 228-3630 or email@example.com at least a week before your performance to discuss your options.