My daughter leaned toward the stage in wonder as she watched the flying monkeys, dazzling witches, smoking wizard, and the straw man who could talk! She was three years old and experiencing the wonder of live theatre for the very first time. It was the year 2009 in Mount Vernon, Ohio and a moment that the two of us will always treasure. Even now, eight years later, she remembers that show. Over the years, Mount Vernon’s community theatre has continued to ignite her imagination and has brought the experience of Broadway to our small town.

At MTVarts, everyone is a volunteer. Countless hours are put into these shows to bring beauty to life for the enjoyment of our community. Why would so many busy adults give up so much of their time to something like theatre? Who needs theatre? We need threatre.

Theatre is an incredibly unifying event where members of our very own community work, create, practice, and hone their talents to welcome the rest of us into a living story. When we enjoy theatre we get to enter into A whole new world (see what I did there?)- Aladdin Jr, MTVarts 2015.

Sure, we could save up money and fly away to Disneyland for a family adventure. We could turn on the television and snuggle in for a family movie night. But, some families can’t afford Disneyland. And, sometimes experiencing art that goes beyond a family movie can inspire a child in ways you never imagined.

My daughter, who was that three year old journeying into the world of the Wizard of Oz back in 2009, has now had to journey through a lot of hard times. Her momma ended up a single mom. I had to hold that little girl’s hand through pain and loss she couldn’t possibly understand. We were the family who couldn’t afford Disneyland. We were the family who couldn’t snuggle in for a movie night- because we didn’t even have a television.

But, despite of our family’s difficulties, our community provided us with amazing opportunities to make lasting memories. Maybe we didn’t get Disneyland, but we got an evening with Cinderella. We were guests of a candlestick alongside a girl named Belle. We watched with jealousy as Mary Poppins cleaned a house with the snap of her fingers. We daydreamed together about a friend like Aladdin’s Genie.

These shows, these times when we sat side-by-side experiencing art, these were our special treat during dark times. A couple times a year, we were able to focus on building our relationship by enjoying these productions and we continued to carry those memories with us in the songs and conversations that we shared after the show. Maybe your family is like ours was, maybe you don’t have the resources to take extravagant vacations. With a little imagination, these upcoming fall shows can build a lovely family memory and become a great “get-away” adventure.

Can’t afford to take everyone one in the family on a cruise? MTVarts will let you join in the voyage of Braid Beard and his musical mates! The pirates enlist the help of a boy named Jeremy Jacob as they hunt for the perfect place to bury their treasure. Eventually, Jeremy learns that love and home are treasures you can’t find on any map.

Then, in an exciting turn of events, you will be able to follow up your family’s ocean adventure with a trip to the grasslands of Africa! The following weekend an all youth cast will absolutely entertain with the epic adventures of a curious cub named Simba as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destiny as king. There’s also the added bonus that you’ll be able to see my little girl, in love with theatre from the age of three, as young Nala- sassy, silly, and as happy as any kid can be to have the chance to perform for her community and tell the story of the Lion King.

I hope your family is able to make it out to a show this fall as we support the volunteers in our community. They are committed to bringing us productions that go beyond entertainment and invite us into an incredible journey, together. Let’s thank them by making some family memories this year!