Mary Paola, left, and Hannah Kulus star in the Acadia Repertory Theatre’s production of “The Princess and the Pauper,” one of a handful of shows for kids on Mount Desert Island. PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADIA REPERTORY THEATRE

Summer fun for the young goes indoors

Have the kids had their fill of sunny beaches, hiking and biking on Acadia National Park trails, paddling on crystal clear lakes or sailing on the shimmering ocean?

With schools reopening in just a few weeks, do they think that they’ve been there, done all that?

Well they don’t have to wait for a rainy day or chilly night to enjoy some of the indoor entertainment options Mount Desert Island has to offer.

At the Acadia Repertory Theatre in Somesville, a couple of identical tweens – a pop star and a lobsterman’s daughter – are the main characters in a musical show called “The Princess and the Pauper.” The two switch identities every Wednesday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and learn an important lesson from stepping into one another’s lives.

At the Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor every Sunday at 1 p.m., a pair of zany technophiles calling themselves the “Unknown Adventure Crew” has a meltdown when all their computer screens fail. With the help of their young audiences, they learn other ways of communicating and having fun.

At The Hall in Otter Creek, there’s the Moscow Magic & Comedy Show, where a world-class magician named Victor Zenko works his wonders weekly Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. He delights and amazes kids and grownups with his card tricks and mind reading. He even levitates a member of the audience.

Last Saturday, which actually was a rainy day, the Acadia Repertory Theatre was filled with kids, parents and grandparents who came to see “The Princess and the Pauper,” a very, very loose adaption of Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper.” In this instance, a tween named Wendy (adorably played by MDI High School student Mary Paola) is the number one fan of young pop star Lisa (an adorably bratty Hannah Kulus), whom she copies in every way, including dress. Through a series of improbable events, the two girls switch identities for a day, giving Wendy a chance to see that a pop star’s life is not all golden and Lisa an opportunity to be a regular kid. There is a lot of dialogue in this play, and the youngest kids in the audience did get a bit fidgety, but their older sisters and brothers seemed to get a kick out of it. Their parents seemed to enjoy Wendy’s lobsterman father (Jonathan Wells) most, with his Minnesota accent. “The Princess and the Pauper” plays through Aug. 27. For tickets and information, visit

Over at the Criterion on Sunday, a small group of youngsters gathered to experience the “Unknown Adventure Crew.” Taking them on their musical journey were Andrew Simon and Brittany Parker from the Barn Arts Collective. The show opens with the pair operating a giant touch screen and getting directions for their “missions” from their virtual captain (Carl Ferm) and their handbooks (computers in their hands). The audience learns a little something about the weather and about parks on this giant screen before – horrors! – the system fails. After suffering a major and hilarious panic attack, the two crew members, with their audience in tow, decide to embark on their next mission, “Visit a Theater,” in real time, rather than virtually. They venture backstage and find, among other interesting stuff, a TV screen with a message for them, and they go up to the balcony, where they find a radio with another broadcast message. Then it’s outside, where they find sunshine and another message and discover, as one young audience member shouted out, “You’re already in a theater!”

Along the way, there are some very catchy tunes, which the kids seemed to enjoy. They also seemed to understand the message that as fun as computer screens and other technologies can be, there’s a lot to be said for experiencing adventures for real.

This show plays through August. Tickets are $6. Visit for more information.

Audiences who have gone to see The Moscow Magic & Comedy Show at the Otter Creek Hall have been giving it rave reviews:

“… In my opinion, it’s the best live entertainment value on the island. As the name suggests, there’s an exciting mixture of amazing illusions and really funny, but clean, comedy. It’s a great date night for adults, and it’s equally suited for families with kids,” one wrote online.

“I cannot recommend this show enough! I took my 6-year-old sister who absolutely loved every second (She talked about it for days after!),” said another.

Zenko, the magician, has an impressive resume of international performance venues in Hollywood, Orlando, Germany, Japan and Russia, but has tailored his show to fit perfectly in the intimate Otter Creek venue. The Moscow Magic & Comedy Show also plays through Aug. 27. For tickets and more information, visit


Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.

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