Learn a Lot from a Dummy

Ventriloquist Jonathan Geffner visits the JCC

SUN 4/6

While puppets' voices are hidden, dummies are inextricably tied to their masters -- which is, of course, one reason why ventriloquism is so creepy. Its practitioners are like weird, dwarf/slave owners who tote their imaginary "friends" around, constantly arguing with them. Done well, though, it's an impressive, even hypnotic, trick. Ventriloquist Jonathan Geffner may freak your kids out, but he'll also teach them some important lessons about self-esteem, respect, responsibility, honesty and good manners. In fact, Geffner has a whole gang of dummies to help kids learn about diversity and peaceful conflict resolution. Perhaps Geffner and company should do a show for grown-ups, too. 2 p.m. Sunday, April 6. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, call 713-729-3200. $8. -- Troy Schulze

We All Dream of Genie

SAT 4/5

Wouldn't it be nice to stumble upon a genie's lamp? You could wish for peace, an end to global warming and a few million dollars. In The Company OnStage's production of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, a wicked magician leads Aladdin to just such a lamp. Obviously street-smart, the kid makes himself a prince and marries a princess. Things take a dark turn when the magician steals Aladdin's treasure and tears him from his bride, but rest assured that good will triumph over evil. 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays through April 26. 536 Westbury Square. For information, call 713-726-1219 or visit www.companyonstage.org. $6. -- Cathy Matusow

Peewee Picassos

Just because your kid can identify red, yellow and blue, that doesn't mean she's got a complete grasp of the colors. Does your fledgling artist know "madder red" or "straw yellow"? If you fantasize about your little one showing paintings at the Whitney someday, nurture her talent. Caroline Desnoettes, a French author of art books for children, has just published Colors of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, her first English-language title. The volume not only will broaden your child's perceptions of the color spectrum but also will familiarize her with masterworks at the museum, including Alexei Jawlensky's Portrait of a Woman and Kermit Oliver's K.J.'s Calf. Desnoettes selects a detail from each work and discusses its hue. The book is available at the MFA gift shop, 5601 Main. For information, call 713-639-6360. $17.95. -- Cathy Matusow

 
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