With the following LaughFest artists and events taking over the month of March, the mood lightens, we forget our troubles and we give in to that funny feeling. If you're looking to involve the kiddos, you've come to the right place. Follow the sound of laughter and join in. Smiles are free, cost nothing and do wonders for our attitudes—not to mention our faces.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: FOLLOW YOUR BERRY OWN BEAT!
DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids
March 17, 1 p.m.
Tag along with spirited red-haired girl Strawberry Shortcake in a live theatrical production at DeVos Performance Hall. She brings along her best friends Orange Blossom, Lemon Meringue, Blueberry Muffin, Raspberry Torte, Plum Pudding and Cherry Jam, as well as the Doodlebops, who hit the stage before the show. Strawberry Shortcake will appeal to little girls and grown up girls because, "She's an all-American girl that has so much sweetness and love—plus she lives in a berry patch," said Show Director Patti Caplette. The high-energy show features songs such as "Dressing Up is Hard to Do" and is loaded with a personal empowerment message, letting little girls know they can do very big things. The storyline follows all the friends in Berry Bitty City as they prepare for their moment in the spotlight at the Glitzy Glaze Talent Show. "Introducing kids to things they're very familiar with, expressing it theatrically, entertaining them through a whole other medium," is Caplette's goal. Isn't it sweet how humor, fun and friendship can mix so well?
SECRET AGENT 23 SKIDOO
Crush at The B.O.B., Grand Rapids
March 9, 1 & 3 p.m.; March 10, 1 & 3 p.m.
If you get the chance to attend a straight up hip-hop dance party with your kids, you should go. Clean enough for the littles but funky for the whole family, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is the King of Kid Hop and positive half-pint party music. The show, held at Crush inside The B.O.B., will combine wordplay, storytelling and pure positivity all on top of thumping drums and sophisticated multi-instrumental pieces. After the show, kids probably won't stop talking about, "how seeing live music is even more fun than going to the movies or playing video games," Secret Agent 23 Skidoo said. Songs like "Gotta Be Me" speak to the fact that "everybody in the world rocks their own style," and to be true to your funky self. This old-school dance party speaks straight to the experience and lives of children while not dumbing down the music or going the sugary, sweet route. "We rocked a show one time so hard that we made a kid poop his pants from dancing so much—and he stuck around for the rest of the show!"
SATURDAY NIGHT TEEN ZONE
GRCC Ford Fieldhouse, Grand Rapids
March 16, 7-10 p.m.
The GRCC Ford Fieldhouse opens its doors for teens to come and enjoy laser tag, inflatables (fun at any age), a mechanical bull, a live DJ and dancing. "We wanted to create something that really hit that demographic," said Joanne Roehm, LaughFest festival director. "I like to think of it along the same lines as a prom after party." Try your hand at tie-dye pillowcases and spin art shutter shades. You can also belt out a few tunes with live band karaoke. It takes regular karaoke further and will appeal to teens into "Glee" and "American Idol." The teen zone is in its second year and still offers fun, out-of-the-box activities and the perfect way for teens to let loose with their friends in a safe, Saturday night experience.
Knickerbocker Theatre, Holland
March 16, 7 p.m.
Just say the word "magician" and a hush falls over the room—when it's filled with kids. TV-personality, actor and live entertainer Justin Willman is sure to wow the family friendly crowd at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Holland. He's the host of the hit shows "Cupcake Wars" and "Last Cake Standing" on the Food Network and is known as the witty correspondent on the Rachael Ray talk show. He's been on "Ellen" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Kids will be impressed with his appearance on the Disney sitcom "The Suite Life on Deck." Television gigs aside, his magic and card tricks will delight audience members bringing a fresh, funniness back to magic shows. Even The Los Angeles Times calls Willman, "a new breed of magician who's making magic cool again for grown-ups." If both parent and child can stomach a magic show, you know this performer is top-notch.