“Free is great,’’ says Priscilla Kaufhold, coordinator of the Lancaster Summer Arts Festival Children’s Series opening Wednesday.
“It’s an experiment. You can see if the kids are interested. They can sit and watch or get involved. There’s no pressure.’’
Exposing young audiences to a variety of artistic entertainment is what motivates Kaufhold when she plans the annual series.
“I see so many little kids on phones. It’s sad,’’ she says. Being entertained on a screen doesn’t compare to the real thing, she says. And it doesn’t allow children to say “Hey, I can do that!’’
“Rather than seeing a live body jumping around or singing, they’re seeing a two-inch person in a phone.’’
Storytelling, music and dance take a variety of forms during seven performances at 10:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through June 26.
And they all take place at a new location: Lancaster Public Library’s Bates Auditorium.
This year’s series opener features Clem Bowen, whose interactive storytelling is always a crowd favorite, resulting in him being invited back each year.
“He actually is such a wonderful engager of the audience,’’ Kaufhold says. “He’s a master.’’ Kaufhold says there is a hard-to-describe element that some performers have — in addition to having obvious talent, they have a magical ability to captivate all ages.
“Whatever that is, he’s got it to a T,’’ she says.
The series continues June 13 with a newcomer to the schedule — Silver Spring Dance Company. “We’ve never had them before,’’ Kaufhold says. “I’m excited to have them.’’
The company performs a variety of styles while demonstrating movements audiences can learn. “They have a bunch of dances for different animals, how you move as an animal.’’
On June 17, MuZette (the husband and wife musical team of Tom and Laurie Reese) will perform “Cats and Plants,’’ a concert of original music.
“They will talk about the songs they wrote, their inspiration,’’ Kaufhold says. “When they do their own work, they kind of come alive. It’s exciting to see them get excited.’’
The Penn Square Music Festival takes the stage June 19 — that means little people will be exposed to opera.
But this is opera just for kids, with a performance by “Sid the Serpent Who Wanted to Sing.’’
“It will have great costumes, different characters. It will be good,’’ Kaufhold says.
Another newcomer to the series is actor/director Joel Gorie, who uses games, creative exercises and activities to inspire young people in the theatrical arts.
“He came highly recommended by a theater friend of mine,’’ Kaufhold says. “He is good at engaging. I’m really excited about him.’’
On June 24, Hollie Mendenhall and her ukulele will entertain audiences with songs and stories and lots of singalongs.
“We’ve had her a couple of times,’’ Kaufhold says, adding that kids seem to love her ukulele. “She gets people moving.’’
The series closes June 26 with Kaufhold’s own Barefoot Dance Company.
Their performance will take audiences on a journey through the 20th century by way of fashion, music and dance.
“Fashion will be a big part of it,’’ Kaufhold says, which is not surprising, since Kaufhold runs the Millersville University Costume Shop. She plans on using some of those costumes in an interactive way, too.
Like they are every year, all the performances are free.
Kaufhold is happy to be partnering with the library this year, too.
“We’re excited, and they’re excited to have us,’’ she says. “The room is a little more intimate, but I think that will be really nice.
“It’s something free that families can come and do with their kids.”