Curtains Up For Kids




Over 10,000 students visit the Basie Center every year as part of its Curtains Up for Kids school show program — and for many, it’s their only opportunity to experience live performing arts. From classical music with modern twists, to the diversity of Asian and African artistry or historical plays like I Have a Dream, the Basie Center inspires students to dream forward through culture and artistic expression.


Interested in seeing a performance in person? Click here for a reservation form.


  • A live performance at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in one of our venues: The Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre or The Vogel.
  • Teacher study guides with pre and post-show activities are provided before the performance to maximize learning in the classroom and gain a deeper appreciation for the school show itself.
  • Limited pre and post show workshops are available upon request.


  • $12 each – Individual Sales
  • $10 each – Education Groups of 10 or more students
  • One complimentary chaperone ticket for each 10 student tickets purchased.

Financial assistance is available. Please fill out our reservation form for more information.

The Basie is very grateful to the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and Roma Bank Community Foundation for their support of Curtains Up for Kids.

For tickets or more information, call 732-224-8778 x 151 or email [email protected]

 Applicants will receive an email confirmation within one week of your reservation. In the event you do not receive a confirmation, email [email protected].


Performances have grade recommendations listed beneath each title, however teachers and administrators are encouraged to research and ask questions before booking to ensure content is age appropriate. School shows are designed to be approximately one hour long (*some exceptions apply.)


NAVIDAD: A Mexican-American Christmas
Presented by Calpulli Mexican Dance Company

IN-PERSON PERFORMANCE: November 20th, 2023 at 10:30AM – SOLD OUT!
Recommended for grades: K-12 LOCATION: Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre

Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas celebrates the holiday traditions experienced by a young person of Mexican immigrant parents growing up in New York City. Experiencing traditions from Aztec-inspired dance to Christmas carols, the youngster tries to bring their two worlds together. In a dream, they imagine the fusion of Mariachi music with Tchaikovsky, folk dance with ballet, and the wonderment of their two cultures. But a tempting character preaches the separation of these customs, and the youngster must choose.


Cultural Connections
Bilingual Storytelling



CENICIENTA: A Bilingual Cinderella Story

February 28th, 2024 at 10:30AM – SOLD OUT!
February 29, at 10:30AM – SOLD OUT!

Recommended for grades: K-4 LOCATION: The Vogel

Ten-year-old Belinda is a budding poet and loves to tell stories, but when she’s stuck in the basement preparing for a party upstairs that her stepmother and stepsisters will host, she’ll have to get creative. It’s a story within a story; Belinda lives out her version while also re-enacting the classic tale of Cinderella, using whatever objects are at her disposal: napkins, teapots, and doilies, to name just a few. With these everyday items, a healthy dose of imagination, and a love of poetry passed down by her father, Belinda imagines a bigger world for herself…

When she learns that the party’s special guest is (real life) writer Gary Soto, Belinda desperately wants to attend the party and share her own writings with Soto. But to do that, she must learn to stand up for herself and take charge of her life and dreams. This captivating bilingual one-woman performance is a modern spin on the beloved fairy tale and tackles cultural heritage, family, and the power of language.


Cultural Connections
Bilingual Storytelling
Social/Emotional Learning



Presented by Phoenix Productions

IN-PERSON PERFORMANCE: March 1st, 2024 at 10:30AM*
Recommended for grades: 9-12 LOCATION: Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre

Presented by Phoenix Productions, Ragtime tells the story of the lives of three families intertwine at the beginning of the 20th century. Life in America is changing. Ragtime tells of the experience of immigrants, African Americans, and a wealthy family in the suburbs of New York. Social and racial conflicts rise to the surface as the lives of the characters become intertwined.
*Please note, this performance is 90 minutes long.


Musical Theatre
Historical & Cultural Connections
Anti-Racism Education




IN-PERSON PERFORMANCE: March 26th, 2024 at 10:30AM – SOLD OUT
Recommended for grades: K-4* LOCATION: Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre

Lightwire Theater brings a classic tale to the modern stage in an unforgettable theatrical experience. Lined with electroluminescent wire, the beloved story of The Ugly Duckling plays out on stage through a cutting-edge blend of puppetry, technology and dance. With dazzling visuals, poignant choreography and the creative use of music ranging from classical to pop, this production brings this story into a new and brilliant light. Come watch The Ugly Duckling grow into a beautiful and powerful swan with Mother Duck and her ducklings.
*Please note, this performance is not sensory friendly and includes dark lighting and loud sound effects.


Storytelling through Puppetry
Anti-Bullying Education




IN-PERSON PERFORMANCE: April 29th, 2024 at 10:30AM – SOLD OUT!
Recommended for grades: 4-12 LOCATION: Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre

Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s cultural exports, touring more than 60 countries across the globe, and the company now ranks as one of the top ten African-American dance companies in the United States. Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities; traditional African dances; and an array of contemporary dance and art forms into a cohesive, compelling artistic experience. Performances are much more than dance shows: they integrate songs, storytelling, humor and audience participation. The blend of technique, agility and pure energy makes each performance unique, and leaves the audience with their hearts pounding.


Historical & Cultural Connections



LOST ANGELS by Ralph Colombino
Presented by Playground Theatre Project

IN-PERSON PERFORMANCE: April 30th, 2024 at 10:30AM – LESS THAN 20 TICKETS REMAIN! and May 1st, 2024 at 10:30AM – SOLD OUT!
Recommended for grades: 7-12 LOCATION: The Vogel

During a lockdown, 12 high school students are stuck in a classroom without a teacher. With only texts and the PA system to let them know what is happening in the rest of the school, these students will learn a great deal about each other amidst the panic and confusion. Stereotypes will be broken down, secrets will be revealed, and unique friendships will be forged. Lost Angels brings up issues current in society with today’s young people and challenges them to have a better understanding of themselves and each other; compassion and tolerance are taught through truthful acting, realistic writing, and young people relating to their peers.


Anti-Bullying Education
Social/Emotional Learning



The Gaggle: An interactive theatre & education Podcast by Actors Playground Mini Misfits troupe

Recommended for grades: 4-7

The Gaggle is a one-act play transformed into a podcast to provide an arts experience from the safety of your classroom. Following a group of middle schoolers, The Gaggle is about a clique’s rein over the school and how their bullying effects the students and themselves. This episodic podcast focuses on anti-bullying, social-emotional learning skills, and relevant relatable topics for you and your students to explore. A teacher study guide with prompts for lessons and activities to follow each episode is included. Workshop experiences (virtual or in-person) are available for an additional cost.


Media Arts
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Connections


*Seeing live theater offers a range of academic, social, and emotional benefits to children. This includes:

  • A greater ability to accept people with different opinions from their own and understand the diversity of ways others experience the world
  • An increased hope for their own future, with the ability to imagine attending college and envisioning success
  • A greater recognition that the arts can have a place in their lives in the present and future
  • Improved engagement and behavior in school environments, which can impact success
  • Increased success on standardized tests; higher writing scores; and a stronger command of narrative devices

*Read more about the impact of viewing performing arts on students.



In-School Arts Classes

We believe participation in the arts:

  • is essential to a well-rounded education and motivates lifelong learning
  • fosters creativity, self-esteem, teamwork, and problem solving skills
  • develops a strong work ethic and the ability to focus
  • advances community connections and promotes inclusivity and diversity
  • inspires empathy, compassion and tolerance
  • enriches life and generates joy

During this time it’s more important than ever that we all learn creative solutions that inspire, educate, and entertain.

Through a variety of  arts-based activities students will build their social-emotional learning and 21st Century learning skills. These are increasingly important given the current level of challenges both in and out of the classroom.

These engaging workshops and residencies are designed to build upon your current classroom strategies while layering curriculum with fun.

Please click here for more information or to request a residency 


Our Outreach program began as a collaboration with the Red Bank Borough School District in 2005. Today, we serve over 550 students annually with in-school, after-school, and summer performing arts classes in the Primary and Middle schools in Red Bank and the Joseph R. Bolger Middle School in Keansburg.

Our goal as educators is to instill a passion, appreciation and love of the arts. Besides enhancing one’s perspective and interpersonal skills such as communication, cooperation and creative problem solving, arts education is truly a magical elixir that raises one’s self–esteem, self-efficacy and confidence.



Need Help? Have Questions?
Contact the Education Department
Anthony Greco
Arts Education and Outreach Manager
732-224-8778 x 151
[email protected]