July 2, 2010 at 10:17 am EDT | by Patrick Folliard
Acclaimed actress takes role in children’s tale

Are you an LGBT parent looking for someplace to take the kids? On Saturday, July 24, Adventure Theatre is re-teaming with Rainbow Families DC for its second annual day of theater and outdoor fun at Glen Echo Park. On the docket for LGBT parents and their children is an 11 a.m. performance of “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” followed by casual picnicking and carousel rides on the historic park’s shady grounds.

Adapted from Laura Joffe Numeroff’s popular same-titled children’s book, “If You Give a Pig a Pancake,” is the delightful tale of Felicia, a demanding piglet and her accommodating young caretaker Laura. In essence, the circular story is a lesson in cause and effect as well as living life to the fullest.

“The title has great marquee value with kids,” explains Adventure Theatre’s producing artistic director Michael Bobbitt “And adults will be thrilled to see Helen Hayes award-winning actress Holly Twyford playing the title character.” The two-person show – staged by Jerry Whiddon and also featuring newcomer Branda Lock as Laura – runs for almost six weeks, but there is only one performance reserved especially for LGBT parents and their kids.

Bobbitt and Twyford are both gay, and their respective partners and children will be in the audience on Rainbow Families day.

Twyford is locally celebrated for doing Shakespeare and modern drama geared more to grownups. Certainly it’s not everyday that she dons pig ears for art, but taking on the role of Felicia appealed to her in various ways.

“Children’s theater is an exciting challenge,” explains Twyford. “This my second go at it [about a dozen years, she played in “Grimm Tales” at Theatre of the First Amendment], and I’d forgotten what a workout it is. I’m onstage for the length of the 45-minute show, up energy the entire time. It’s also rather daunting but a lot of fun to be dancing and singing, things which I don’t normally do.

“And frankly, a big part of the reason for the doing the show is so my three-year-old daughter Helena can see what mommy does when I say I’m going to theater,” Twyford continues. “She sort of understands that an actress pretends to be other people, and she knows that I’m playing a pig. Her other mom goes to the office every morning. Now she has a chance to see me at work.”

“What’s more,” Bobbitt, points out, “With children’s theater, all the performances are matinees, so you’re home with your family every night. Most nights I’m home with my partner and our nine-year-old son Sang.”

Rainbow Families board member Richard Gervase and his partner are dads to two boys, 5 and 10. Gervase organized the first Rainbow Families day at Adventure Theatre (a sold-out performance of another Numeroff favorite — “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” — in March 2009). The success of that outing prompted the 300-family-strong group to make the jaunt to Glen Echo an annual event. They’ve pushed the date back by several months to better enjoy the outdoor park environs.

“’Give a Pig a Pancake’ is for toddlers and up,” notes Gervase. “While the story is aimed at younger kids, we’ll take our older son too and he’ll enjoy it. And there’s always some snarky humor that only the adults get. It’s really an ‘all ages’ show, but of course parents know their kids best and ultimately they need to decide.”

Other annual Rainbow Families excursions include an October pumpkin patch event at lesbian-owned Cox Farms in Centreville, Va., a Valentine’s Day dance, and marching in the Capital Pride parade.

“Although we have lesbian and gay friends with children, our kids are mostly participating in a largely straight world,” adds Gervase. “To have a place to socialize where kids can see other kids with families that are the same as them is very important and powerful.”

To purchase specially discounted Rainbow Family Day tickets go to rainbowfamiliesdc.org.

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