Get Out of the House


Lights, Camera, Theater!


By Rebecca Meekma

Thank you for your travel tips. I have been stopped at the grocery store, Girl Scout meetings and the Patriot’s Day Parade by enthusiastic readers who wanted to share their favorite island hotspots. I have Catalina very nearly planned; Hawaii, not so much. I’ll keep you updated and still welcome your suggestions.

On another note, the girls and I and several other mother/daughter teams recently saw the Laguna Playhouse’s Youth Theatre’s production of “Fairy tales: Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella” and had a wonderful evening. Twice each year, the Playhouse stages plays for families. Judging by the sparsely filled theater, unfortunately they seem to fly under the radar of many local families.

The plays are professionally staged, directed and costumed; the actors are a combination of children and teens in the Playhouse’s conservatory program, supported by professional actors, all of which combine for an engaging and accessible few hours of live action. All this for only a few dollars more than seeing the latest animated atrocity at a multiplex.

As it turned out, we knew the young Laguna Beach actress playing Gretel (way to go, Molly!) which gave the experience an added bonus. The fairy tales presented varied just enough from their Disney-fied versions as to make them familiar and fresh at the same time. All of the young actors held their own. In a delightful touch of humor, Hansel and Gretel were guests at the Prince’s Ball in “Cinderella.” Their appearance elicited laughs from the entire audience, as did their swift exit after learning that gingerbread (the witch’s favorite recipe, which includes children) was on the dessert buffet. Another highlight: cast members meet and greet and sign autographs for the pint-sized crowd after the show.

The moms especially appreciated the 5 p.m. curtain time, which had us out of the theater by 7. This was perfect for a late (by family standards) dinner in town, but where to go with a group of 12, including grade school aged girls? Someplace the adults would enjoy, meaning no neon lights and, hopefully, a liquor license?

The answer is someplace that I’d overlooked for nearly a decade: Hennessey’s. That’s right; we took our girls to a…bar. Well, the dining room on the side of a bar.  Hennessey’s has a passable menu of bar favorites (as one model-thin mom exclaimed, “I haven’t eaten these potato skins since law school!”) and reasonably priced kids meals that are light on greens, but very popular with the 12 and under set. They’ve added several salads to the menu and have a tasty surprise item for people looking for a non-fried meal: the best ahi poke in town. Yup. Ahi. At Hennessey’s. Really. It’s listed as an appetizer, but is easily big enough to be a meal. (Deal alert: Stop by on Fridays between 4 and 7 p.m. and try it for half price.)

My friends were a bit skeptical, but once the waitress seconded my enthusiasm for the dish (her favorite, too) we ordered a round of ahis (plus, the potato skins and a burger or two) and settled in for an hour or so of chatting, eating and drinking without having to worry about our kids’ behavior or breaking the bank when the check came. The girls were at one large booth, happily crayoning and talking amongst themselves, while at the adult table, we were doing the same thing (minus the crayons.)

So watch for the Playhouse’s next youth offering, probably in October. Treat yourself and any children in your life to a live theater experience.

If you can’t wait that long, check out “Sound of Music” at the high school, running the next three weekends and No Square Theater’s “LagunaTOTs” production in May. We really are a town of talented artistic types!

Rebecca Meekma is that friend who always knows something fun to do, and the Calendar Editor at Parenting OC magazine. Reach her at [email protected].


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