For a fun afternoon that both kids and adults will enjoy, head to the Little Secret Theatre. Just next door to its parent Secret Theatre, in the arts epicenter of Long Island City, the Little Secret Theatre shows children’s musicals that are part performance, part interaction.
One of these musicals, “Pirate Pete’s Parrot,” tells the story of Polly the parrot, who is sick of eating boring bird food and longs for some pancakes.
Unfortunately Pirate Pete owes rent to his landlord, the evil Baron Big Butt, so he tells Polly that she must eat the bird food that he’s already bought for her, or else walk the plank. She runs away, and Pete and his crew go in search of her.
Along the way the crew meets Bruce, a vegetarian lion and aspiring stand-up comedian, Pete’s audacious mother, Pam, and finally the infamous Baron Big Butt himself.
Throughout the show, characters interact with the audience, asking for their help, telling secrets and making jokes.
During a recent performance, kids called out advice to Pirate Pete’s crew in his hunt for Polly, and rushed the stage during a treasure hunt; two inspired divas even demonstrated for Pam how to dance to “Single Ladies” like BeyoncÈ.
The cast members have an infectious enthusiasm, and can be found chatting with the kids after the performance.
Richard Mazda’s smart writing is entertaining for the whole audience, packed with fun alliterations and rhymes for the kids, and wordplay and pop culture references for their parents.
Mazda says this kind of writing comes naturally to him, and that Long Island City has been an excellent place in which to explore it.
Here, he says, he found “a community that was very supportive of my various endeavors, which led to a massive increase in personal creativity.”
Of course, Mazda enjoys the performance aspect of children’s theater as well. “The best thing about performing for the kids,” he says, “is the way that they totally get immersed in the fun and sometimes rather touchingly can surprise you.”
He remembers a 5-year-old spectator spontaneously calling out, “I love you, Baron Big Butt!” during one of the first showings of “Pirate Pete’s Parrot.”