I’ll admit, when my kids were younger I had no desire to take them to a movie or some kind of live theater performance. It was far too likely they’d cause a ruckus or claim they needed to go potty every 10 minutes.
So we never really got into the habit of going to musical performances or theater productions, and I recently decided I am overdue in changing that.
Having heard good things about Lynden’s Claire vg Thomas Theatre as an enjoyable venue with an excellent theater guild, and with a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” playing, I thought it would be a fun play for my just-turning-13 daughter, her brother and her BFF.
The 160-seat theater, located in the Dutch Village Mall, was originally called the Queen Juliana Theatre, named for the Queen of the Netherlands. In 2001, the theater was renamed after one of the founders of the Lynden Performing Arts Guild, Claire vg Thomas.
Tucked inside the Dutch Village Mall on Front Street (look for the Windmill and you’re there), one accesses the theater by crossing a little white bridge over the quaint mill stream that runs through the mall. Filled with koi, complete with Dutch names such as Cleo VanKoi, the kids loved waiting for the curtain by watching the fish.
“Not a bad seat in the house” aptly describes the Claire vg Thomas. Sitting in the front row, we were almost within arm’s reach of the stage. While this might have felt too close to the action for some people, it gave us an excellent vantage point – and the kids didn’t have to struggle to see around anyone. The theater also has a small balcony seating area.
We enjoyed the play itself – the actors were polished; the set and period costumes transported us to Brooklyn in the early 1940s. Live theater is so much more engaging than watching a movie at home or even at the cinema. It was an experience I know my kids won’t soon forget.
The production did include an intermission, and the theater guild sells drinks and snacks. (Good news for the kids. I welcomed the chance to a cup of tea, too.) During intermission, it was also fun to look back at the collection of cast photos from productions dating back to the late 1990s. This was especially enjoyable for us because we could pick out friends who had performed in past plays.
After the play, the audience gets the chance to meet the cast members, which made for a fun way to cap off the performance, and really make live theater something different from a trip to the movies.
When planning your visit to the Claire vg Thomas, you can easily make it dinner and a show with a number of dining options nearby. If attending a Saturday matinee performance, you have the biggest number of options as many of the cafes and bakeries are closed by late afternoon on weeknights as well as on Sunday.
And while on Front Street in Lynden, there are many shops to visit, the Lynden Pioneer Museum to explore and much more. We rounded out our visit with a trip to the new Village Books as well as delighting in scratch-baked desserts from the Lynden Dutch Bakery.
A confession: I had never been to the Lynden Dutch Bakery before, and I may now be addicted to it. I must come up with more reasons to frequent Lynden just for an excuse to visit the bakery. Good thing the Lynden Performing Arts Guild has new production starting soon. I’m sure the kids won’t mind tagging along.