When Clifford the Big Red Dog hits the stage at the Paramount in Huntington on Tuesday, March 12, he'll have a pit crew just like NASCAR drivers do. "It's physically exhausting to play Clifford," says David Melissaratos, the puppeteer inside who controls the dog's head, mouth and front legs.
So he appreciates that, between numbers, a crew offstage uses a hose to blow cold air into Clifford to cool off Melissaratos and the second puppeteer, who controls Clifford's back legs and tail.
Melissaratos isn't the only performer who will be breaking a sweat this week on Long Island. A plethora of children's shows -- from the whimsical to the serious -- takes place in the coming week. Here are some highlights:
WHAT This classic tale is performed by New York Theatre Ballet: Ballet for Young Audiences. It includes a performance of a new ballet called "Bark! in the Park," in which two children search Central Park for their lost dog.
WHAT This show takes the audience to Berry Bitty City, where the town is buzzing with excitement over the Glitzy Glaze Talent Show. Strawberry Shortcake's friends Orange Blossom, Lemon Meringue, Blueberry Muffin, Raspberry Torte, Plum Pudding and Cherry Jam are also featured. They sing hits from the TV show "Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures." The Doodlebops are guest stars.
INFO $19.50, $39.50 and $49.50; 800-745-3000; thetheatreatwestbury.com
WHAT Alexander has to remove gum from his hair, trips on a skateboard and accidentally drops his sweater in the sink before even getting to eat breakfast. How much worse can things get? Sing along with him through his misadventures. Lyrics are by Judith Viorst, author of the book of the same name.
INFO $18; 516-767-6444; landmarkonmainstreet.org
WHAT This coming-of-age story performed by eight young tap dancers who move through memorable milestones such as a first love, the school dance and graduation. It is a New York Stage original production for ages 10 and older.
INFO $15; 631-632-2787; stallercenter.com
WHAT This new musical hits the stage in conjunction with Clifford's 50th anniversary. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth perform with friends Cleo, T-Bone, Charley, Jetta and Mac.
WHEN|WHERE 3 and 6 p.m. March 12 at the Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO $19.50, $29.50, $39.50, $49.50; 631-673-7300; paramountny.com
WHAT Four friends waiting for a school bus in contemporary Australia are discussing whether Hitler actually had a daughter named Heidi. The play, which flashes back to Nazi Germany in the 1940s, discusses morality, personal responsibility and prejudice. It is based on a novel by Jackie French, and is appropriate for grades 5 through 12. It also features a Holocaust exhibition from Sydney Jewish Museum.