Our guide to cultural events in New York City for families with children and teenagers.
‘THE BREMEN TOWN BAND’ at Miller Theater (May 6, 2 and 5 p.m.). Humans aren’t the only species to undertake second careers after retirement. In the Brothers Grimm story “The Bremen Town Musicians,” a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster, facing uncertain fates as they age, decide to abandon their farm lives for a future in music. Now Miller Theater’s family series is presenting this new adaptation of the tale, directed and designed by Lake Simons, who has created inventive shadow puppets to represent the animals and the cowardly thieves they outsmart. But while the original creatures weren’t what you’d call tuneful, there will be plenty of melody here: Miller commissioned an original score from the composer Courtney Bryan, who will lead a jazz quintet that may be as much New Orleans as it is Bremen Town.
‘A CARDBOARD & DUCT TAPE SPECTACULAR’ at the Connelly Theater (through May 14). Young audiences shouldn’t find anything ironic about this title: Who among them hasn’t constructed a fearsome fort or a splendid palace out of just such humble materials? But in this show, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, led by Keith Nelson and Stephanie Monseu, promises more than ordinary playfulness. Performers will turn duct tape into a musical instrument, transform a carton into a television set and balance cardboard tubes on their heads. Conceived by Adam Kuchler, with a script by Peter Bufano, the production also offers far from ho-hum acrobatic and aerial acts, as well as a routine in which a clown explores a cardboard box with an enthusiasm even greater than a child’s: He’s pretending to be a cat.
CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL: DESIGNED FOR FUN! at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (May 6-7, noon to 5 p.m.). Clothes often make a statement, and Native American dress has been doing just that for centuries. This year, this museum’s free children’s festival will explore tribal designs and patterns, drawing on the current exhibition “Native Fashion Now.” Activities will include making mosaics shaped like the morning star; creating dragonflies, representations of speed and skill, from corn husks; decorating tote bags with sun symbols, evoking life; and learning Hawaiian dance moves and their many meanings. One station will teach about a current fashion accessory that native Arctic groups developed a form of long ago: sunglasses.
JAPAN’S CHILDREN’S DAY FESTIVAL: KODOMO NO HI at Japan Society (May 7, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Many American children have heard of Superman or Spider-Man, but how about Momotaro (Peach Boy)? This superhero derives from Japanese folklore, which explains how Momotaro, with the help of animal friends, saves his village from the wrath of an oni, or ogre. This year Japan Society’s celebration of Children’s Day, a Japanese holiday, will offer a full interactive theatrical production of Peach Boy’s adventure, presented by the troupe Crossing Jamaica Avenue, at noon and 3 p.m. Before each performance, young visitors can make themselves props like samurai helmets, carp streamers and oni masks. The fun will also include traditional snacks and playing sumo with paper wrestlers.
JAZZ FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: ‘JAZZ AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA’ at the Harlem School of the Arts (May 6, noon to 2 p.m.). Music has often given a voice to the politically voiceless, and that is especially true of jazz, a quintessentially African-American genre. In this free concert, presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Harlem School of the Arts, the Alphonso Horne Quartet will explore works that were both vehicles of protest and calls to action. Led by Mr. Horne, the program will include Billy Taylor’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” Charles Mingus’s “Fables of Faubus” and the spiritual “Wade in the Water.” Registration is recommended.
‘THE LITTLE RED LIGHTHOUSE AND THE GREAT GRAY BRIDGE’ at the DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society (May 6, 11 a.m.). That great gray bridge is the George Washington, and when it opened, its powerful illumination threatened to make the Little Red Lighthouse, a real building in Fort Washington Park, obsolete. But the small historic structure was ultimately saved from the wrecking ball, and on Saturday it and the bridge will harmonize — in all senses — in this new work by Jessica Ann Carp. Inspired by Hildegarde H. Swift and Lynd Ward’s classic picture book of the same title, this musical expands the story by making the lighthouse’s caretaker a World War I veteran and the Canoe a champion of women’s rights. Presented in a concert production, it celebrates the book’s 75th anniversary.
‘NIVELLI’S WAR’ at the New Victory Theater (through May 7). Herbert Levin’s survival during the Holocaust was truly a magical feat. A professional performer who called himself Nivelli (he developed his stage name by reversing his surname’s spelling), he escaped death in a concentration camp because of his ability to entertain Nazi soldiers with magic tricks. His real experience has inspired this play by Charles Way, presented by Cahoots NI, a company from Northern Ireland, and the Lyric Theater in Belfast. Recommended for children 8 and older, it explores the friendship between the fictional Ernst, a boy trying to find his way home to Frankfurt at the end of the war, and the enigmatic Mr. H, a fellow wanderer with a surprising talent for illusions.