Lawrence Toppman

Next season’s lineup at Children’s Theatre: ‘Mary Poppins’ to ‘Madagascar’ and more

You’re a kid; you want to escape. Maybe to Edwardian England, maybe to an island of dancing lemurs, maybe through the rear of a magical wardrobe into a land of snow and ice waiting for a leonine king to bring back the sun. Yet you also need to learn about reality: the struggles of a young black man in Louisville, Ky., in the 1950s, perhaps, or the ostracism of angry poor children who never had a chance to be accepted.

Enter Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, whose 70th-anniversary season takes you there (and many other places). Ticket packages that save up to 20 percent can be had now; get details at 704-973-2828 or Here’s how it stacks up:

“Mary Poppins,” Oct. 6-29: Julian Fellowes (of “Downton Abbey”) adapted the Walt Disney film, and new songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe complement the Sherman brothers’ score from the 1960s. A British nanny straightens out troubled children and parents in London, circa 1910.

“The Snowy Day and Other Stories,” Oct. 27-Nov. 12: Jerome Hairston has turned Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved picture-book tales into a narrative about a boy and his dog experiencing the first snowfall of the year.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical,” Nov. 24-Dec. 23: Last year’s world premiere, a sparkling adaptation of Barbara Robinson’s tale of the horrible Herdmans, has apparently become an annual tradition.

Wonderfest, Jan. 12-28: CTC again mounts three plays in repertory to relieve the post-holiday blahs. This time they’ll be “Balloonacy,” in which a floating sphere interrupts the life of a curmudgeonly old man; “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” a 1930s-inspired musical about a man and wife who embrace a flock of birds; and “The Imaginators,” where a brother and sister new to town meet a wildly imaginative neighbor who takes them off to adventures.

“And in This Corner: Cassius Clay,” Feb. 2-18: Before he became an Olympic gold medal-winner at 18, the future Muhammad Ali grew up in Jim Crow-era Kentucky. Playwright Idris Goodwin tells this story.

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” March 9-April 14: Le Clanché du Rand has turned C.S. Lewis’ novel into a two-person play, with Lucy and Peter recounting their adventures in Narnia and playing all the characters.

“Madagascar – A Musical Adventure,” April 13-May 6: A brash lion, anxious zebra, confident hippo, hyperventilating giraffe and scheming penguins escape a New York zoo to end up in Africa in this musical adaptation of the 2005 Dreamworks movie.

Also coming up: Two productions by PlayPlay! Theatre, a company aiming at kids from birth to 3 (“Psshh!” Aug. 24-Sept. 2 and “Pocket” May 24-June 2), and an illusionist in “Caleb Sigmon Live! Nothing Up My Sleeve” (March 2-4).

Toppman: 704-358-5232