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Discover something new at Center for the Arts

By From the Lowell Sun

By Nancye Tuttle

LOWELL -- What will we do with the kids? It's a familiar cry, as families try to keep offspring entertained without overdosing on TV. For 21 years, families have found the perfect solution with the Discovery Series at the Center for the Arts at UMass Lowell, with shows that focus on imagination, creativity and fun.

"We're encouraging audiences to discover treasures close to home this year," said Christine Brown, Center for the Arts director.

"If you live in the Merrimack Valley, you don't have to go far to discover treasures from around the world in your own backyard," she noted.

As always, Brown scoured the world to find shows for local audiences.

"It has an Asian influence this year, with the Chinese acrobats and Japanese taiko drummers. But we also have a unique holiday show and several other surprises."

The Gizmo Guys, a rapid-fire comedy and juggling pair, open the season Oct. 14.

"They're funny entertainment for everyone from 3 to 103," Brown said.

The daredevil Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats return with a "don't try this at home" performance that seems to defy gravity on Nov. 4.

For the holidays, Brown presents singer John McCutcheon's Living and Celebrating Peace Holiday Concert on Dec. 2.

"This show is unique and centered on John's song and recent book Christmas in the Trenches about a spontaneous Christmas Eve truce during World War I. He is committed to learning, living and teaching peace," said Brown.

Spring arrives with a boom as Portland Taiko perform Is That Thunder? on March 9. Taiko is Japanese for drum, and this form of drumming is a powerful force that inspires and honors Asian-American pride.

The popular children's tale Anne of Green Gables arrives on April 6 with the Theatreworks USA production. "I saw its off-Broadway premiere in New York -- it's a wonderful, heartwarming show," said Brown.

The season closes with Jim West's Mozart, Monsters and Matisse on May 4. "It's a wonderful puppet show, with Mozart's music and a set designed like cut-outs. It is sure to cause a flurry of creativity at home," said Brown.

Brown presents one special event -- a February 3 performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Matthias Kuchta from the Lille Kartofler Figurentheater in Germany.

"He sits on the floor and the audience becomes a part of Snow White's world," said Brown. "It is very intimate and entertaining."