Rinse Cycle 

Young actors teach lessons

FRI 3/22

What do you get when you cross Dr. Seuss' Lorax, the Narnia chronicles, and West Side Story? A two-foot-tall conservationist hopped up on Turkish Delight amid a flurry of dancing teenagers? No, in this case you get Adventures in Terraleauferia, the latest production by the Young Actors Workshop (YAW) at Contra Costa College. In Phil Gorman's musical, two kids discover a porthole through their grandma's dishwasher leading to the eponymous mythical land, where they're taught important lessons about the consequences of waste. It becomes the job of our young protagonists to educate the adults and save the world from ensuing environmental devastation. Sounds heavy until you add a bunch of dance numbers and catchy tunes -- then you have a dual-purpose evening that educates and entertains the whole family.

The ensemble cast of YAW comprises high school and junior high students from all over the East Bay who enroll for the course through CCC in San Pablo. The program itself has been around since 1989. Catch the act at the Knox Center for Performing Arts at the Contra Costa College campus (corner El Portal and Castro, San Pablo), opening Friday, March 21, 8pm, and continuing through March 30. $8 general, $5 students and seniors. www.contracosta.cc.ca.us -- Justine Nicole

SAT 3/22

Speed Racers

Cub Scouts burn rubber

Founded half a century ago, the Pinewood Derby is still probably the safest and most wholesome way to combine woodworking, family fun, and an adrenaline jones. This year's Blackhawk 500, the gold-medal standard of Pinewood Derbies, will take place at the Blackhawk Museum on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Some 350 racers will compete for awards, and there will also be family crafts projects and a treasure hunt. Of course the Derby will never really catch up with the Olympics in one category -- scandal. Its deciding factors -- ingenuity, craftsmanship, and gravity -- are all mercifully resistant to corruption. 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville. 925-736-2280. www.blackhawk500.com -- Jonathan Kiefer

WED 3/19

Greetings, Earthlings

Kids care about Earth. After all, it's where they're most likely to be living their lives. The River of Words group, a nonprofit devoted to environmental awareness, puts on an annual international poetry and art contest for students to reflect their study of the natural world. The result is The World in Our Hands, a collection of more than fifty works of art and poems, now open through June 1 at Chabot Space & Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, 510-336-7300). Visit www.chabotspace.org -- Kelly Vance

It's Grand

Kids, seniors, ice cream

The need for intergenerational understanding is the basis for Mem Fox and Julie Vivas' children's book Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, the story of a boy living next to a retirement home who makes friends with the people who live there. But the warmest part about Stagebridge's Sunday-afternoon family-style stage play (curtain: 3 p.m.), Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and Other Grandparent Tales, adapted by playwright Linda Spector, is the joy shared between grandparents and kids. Stagebridge, the East Bay's premier senior theater company, uses a cast of children and seniors to tell their tales, part of the troupe's annual Family Matinee series. After the play, all generations are invited to join the actors for an old-fashioned ice cream social. The play and the party both take place at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th Street. There's a repeat performance Sunday, March 30, also at 3. www.stagebridge.org or 510-444-4755. -- Kelly Vance

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