Cat Tales 

A magical summer afternoon


You know the story: An escaped slave named Androcles shows kindness to a lion by pulling a painful thorn out of its paw. Androcles is later captured and thrown to the lions ... and guess who the lion happens to be? Androcles and the Lion is a perfect tale for the puppet show at Children's Fairyland in Oakland, where puppeteer Lewis Mahlmann recently celebrated his fiftieth anniversary of bringing classic tales to life. The marionettes have long topped many East Bay parents' lists of best weekend activities. Children sit on benches supported by pastel toadstools at the shaded outdoor amphitheater, a rapt audience for Mahlmann's imaginative re-creations (which provide a perfect antidote to a TV screen). You might see the strings being pulled, but to your child it looks like sheer magic. Show times are at 11 a.m., 2, and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday -- frequent enough so that you can always tour the park and come back. At various times throughout the weekend you have your pick of arts and crafts, magic shows, the Children's Theatre Program's productions of Peach Boy and Melon Princess or Thumbelina, or the many attractions of Fairyland which inspired Walt Disney to create a theme park of his own back in 1955. -- Sarah Cahill


New, improv'd

Act it out in Livermore

Improv comedy and acting classes are big and getting bigger in the East Bay. It's a good way for young people with an interest in performing to channel their energies and soak up a lot of experience in a short amount of time. Antioch's Delta City Improv, which has been teaching improv and theater arts to kids and teens for years, is partnering with the Livermore Academy of Performing Arts in offering summer sessions for adults as well as youths, at the academy, 315 Wright Brothers Ave., Livermore. The classes are led by Kimberly Maclean, high-school theater instructor, professional actor, and Delta City Improv cofounder. For more info, phone 925-443-5272 (Livermore) or 510-384-8848 (Delta City). -- Kelly Vance


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