Show Guide

Mary Jo Maichack’s Variety Shows of Story, Song and Participation


NEW for Summer Reading Theme 2018: Choices to Make Your Library Rock!

Two Family Programs—upbeat, interactive, rocking!

Tiger Dances to Turtle’s Tune” Musical Made in the Moment, a super-interactive mix of truly fun tales with choruses woven in for the audience, dance, costumes—for a multi-arts take on the theme. Kids take the stage in the Caribbean tale, “Tiger Dances to Turtle’s Tune,” Turtle and music saves the day on Tiger’s yam farm. Custom-made headdresses will wow! An amazing Musical Feast!

Or order up “The More We Get Together,” a Campfire Style Sing-along with Guitar—Old-time favorites such as “On Top of Spaghetti,” and more from other cultures, so we can feel appreciation and connection to others who all sing on this earth. Lyric sheets provided. Music makes our hearts beat as one. You supply the marshmallows. Or the spaghetti. Ask, too, about Folk Dances to Song and Guitar–Rock Your Feet and Sing.

NEW! TEENS (or kids) “Own the Room”–Learn Stage Presence & Mic Techniques  Knowing how to walk on and off stage, stand and bow are essential to a professional performance. This workshop is fun, safe and easy. Leave with the simple, practical skills to blow the room away the next time you present yourself in front of ANY audience from 1-1,000. This is not a singing workshop, rather a singer, performer or speaker’s bag of tricks for poise and power. Microphone and small p.a. provided with kind coaching.

Awesome Mother Goose in Person  Rhymes, puppets, dance, song, sheer delight, even for the adult who appreciates language. Ukulele and recorder, with Mother Goose in costume and Tillie, the Goose (shh, big, beautiful rod puppet)

ADULTS: Traveling Cabaret Show, see home page menu. All Shows, except where noted, are an upbeat potpourri of singing, guitar, WELL-told tales, dance and a dress up story play by audience volunteers. TONS of participation. Schools, ask for Common Core connection. It’s all there by the number.HOWLarious Halloween–Ghost Story FUN

Howlarious HalloweenCongenial Ghost Stories for All Audiences 
These come in two versions,  “Howlarious Halloween” for ages 5 up, and “Creepy Tales and Urban Legends for Tweens & Teens & Adults.” Once your age 5-up listeners hear Mary Jo’s opening version of e.e. cummings’s “hist whist,” you’ll understand why MJ has become known for the spookiest, eeriest, snort-your-candy-corn-in-the dark funniest set of Halloween fun. Never in bad taste, but definitely full of shivery fun, kids AND adults will share jittery laughs with these timeless tales of trick-or-treaters, rude and dangerous pumpkins, even a stubborn skeleton dancing to the fiddle. Tweens, teens & adults love “The Vanishing Hitchhiker,” “The Blue Satin Dress–Can a Prom Dress Really Kill?) “Crispy-Fried Rat,” even a fantastic Italian ghost story in English & Italian bring classics no tween or teen should live–or die–without knowing.This is a terrific way to put folklore and language arts into one of kids’ favorite holidays. Book early!

Greek Myths AliveGreek Myths–ALIVE! Heroes & Heroines in Myth & Fable It’s always surprising to see these ancient stories engage even very young listeners. Then again, there’s nothing like a three-headed dog, a trip to the underworld or golden apples from Aphrodite to interest any listener of any age! Includes: an Aesop’s Fable (“The Tortoise and the Hare,”) and a selection of myths to suite your audience. “Demeter & Persephone” in masks, as shown stars your kids as Hades & Zeus, too. This program is all storytelling, adjusted for the age groups.  

Multicultural Tales & Tunes–Just Give Us a Fun Show, Please!

Multicultural Tales & TunesStories and Songs from Many Cultures This show is a mix of stories from many cultures, interspersed with music sung & strummed. One story is enacted by audience children in costumes as an instant story play. As with most shows, this one’s packed with participation, variety, and a rootin’ tootin’ good time. For young listeners, Timbertoes, the limberjack dog, (operated by two children) brings the show to a rousing finish as he dances to a lively tune. Content varies, can focus on appreciating how we are different and yet the same or play just for entertainment. Great pick for field days & fun days.

“…A gifted musician and mesmerizing weaver of stories. She brings high energy and pure joy to her performances. I wholeheartedly endorse the caliber of her performances.”–Antonia Golinski-Foisy, Director, West Springfield MA Library

Books Are Celebrations–Celebrate Reading

Books Are CelebrationInspiring Children to Read
This show evolved into a 1999 NAPPA (National Parenting Publications) Gold Award-winning audio recording. Both offer lively songs celebrating the library and the power of books, multicultural stories that honor stories about stories– “Why Dog Chases Cat,” an origami tale with surprise ending honoring the library, and the bend-in-half-laughing instant story theater version of Robert Munsch’s Paper Bag Princess. You will love and be amazed by the warm variety of this show and its many ways of getting kids happily to interact! Perfect for preschoolers through grade 3, but older will love it, too. MJ survived one year as a children’s librarian and is a true believer in the power of reading & the library.

Asian Tales–The Sparrow’s SeedWondrous wise: Climb a pumpkin vine to the moon and seek your silvery reward. In another tale, Kikosaburo finds a visit to his childhood forest changes his purposeless life to one of meaning and engagement. How? Listen to the friendly croak of some magical frogs. Hear yourself learn & sing along: “Ha Ru Ga Kita” in Japanese. Best of all is “Why Rooster Crows at Sunrise,” the dress-up story that fits into so many themes and is always a joy to see children enact in huge feather hats. There is nothing sweeter than the gentle goddess of the sun, from Viet Nam.

The Minstrel’s Revels

Minstrel's RevelsMedieval Life in Song & Story
Perfect for grades studying this period of history, everyone of any age will enjoy this lively intro and celebration of the Middle Ages. Mary Jo appears as if at a medieval banquet. You’re the guests as she presents poems, stories and music authentic to and representative of the time. Includes, in part: “Sir Eglamore,” song of a valiant knight and 600-year-old song; “The Keeper,” with singable choruses for participation; the folktale “The Three Sillies,”  (has audiences cry sillily along,)  and Munsch’s beloved and hilarious “The Paper Bag Princess,” (instantly acted in costume by students),  dance by children in revels hats. They’ll love it!

Meowls & Growls–Animal Tales & Tunes

“Meowls & Growls” is really a one-person variety show co-created by the audience in celebration of animals. The program entertains all ages with a mix of songs and folktales led by Maichack. Listen to tales of animals. You’ll be invited to waltz with imaginary bears, and sing along to songs of animals. Hear the “Fox and the Crow” with participatory song refrain. It is designed to be lots of fun for all ages adult and is about an hour long. With so many animal tales from around the world, this is very adaptable for all ages and animal interests.

 

Or Would You Rather Be a Fish?

Or Would You Rather Be a Fish?Folklore & Songs of the Sea
“How the Sea Became Salty,” Swedish style, in a sorcerer’s apprentice motif; the “Unlucky Sailor” (paper-folding surprise story with help from audience puppeteers working giant shark puppet, fishy creatures, even a lobster hat); Blow Ye Winds of Morning, chanteys spry to wistful, a hornpipe dance and more make a rousing show. Do the pirate’s cheer! Pure fun. As performed at Cape Cod National Seashore.

King Frost & More Chilly Tales & Tunes for Chilly Children–Celebrate the crackle of ice with King Frost and Chilly Tales for Chilly Children.

This delightful family show is jut right when you want to celebrate wonderful winter with tales, poetry, tunes, even a dance & story for the audience to act out. Kids LOVE King Frost, a Russian fairy tale. Will the kind girl get a treasure of diamonds, of rubies warm as kind hearts? Will the nice little dog ever get his blini? You bring the cocoa! All interactive and fun! Story play and dance by audience volunteers always bring out the cameras.

ALSO FOR WINTER: THE LEGEND OF THE SILVER PINE CONE WITH CRAFT  PERFECT FOR THEM TO MAKE & TAKE AS A GIFT, as well as the story they learn with it.

“Phenomenal.”–Kristine Moxon, Nassau Free Library, NY

Fairy with glue hard at workFairy House Craft –NEW! Oh, what fun! MJ brings you acorns, bark, natural materials, containers, beads, glue and other fairy fancies, tells a fairy poem or two and WHISK! off go families to create their own fairy houses, or chairs, or whatever their imaginations and hands may create. This show PACKED room this summer, brought fairy-lovers out of the woodwork, if you will. Boys and girls came out to play and the sight of families working together was wonderful. So hubbuby yet peaceful! So good to see all working with natural materials. (I found it immensely absorbing, myself, and calming.) It’s a huge help if you can also collect small containers or help with glue and scissors, but the supplies are ready for fun–this summer or anytime. 

Irish Tales and TunesThe Kildare Pooka–March

Irish Fairy & Folk Tales & Tunes

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in March, with Stories & Songs of Ireland. A gloriously literate culture inspires lovers of language any day–Features:
• The Mysterious Brewery of Eggshells–Each night, Mary dreams of wandering the halls of a perfect little cottage. You’ll love the twist ending of this Irish ghost story.
• The Day They Got Sick of Eating Potatoes–Lazy Patrick bargains with a leprechaun for the world’s biggest potato, now the villagers are trapped. MJ’s version of a classic*
• The Kildare Pooka–How would you feel about a donkey washing your dishes each night? Could you button a suit on a 4-legger?
• Tom & the Clurichaun–Getting fairy gold can be tricky business. “Never trick the tricky.”
• Lilting songs with guitar accompaniment Sweet Molly Malone & more
*The audience is invited to act out a version of “The Turnip”–but this time, it’s a potato, of course!

Wild About Wabbits–Celebrate SPRING/April vacation with this show of stories & songs of Brave Bunnies

Little kids love it, older kids find this very funny, wise adults enjoy the many levels of these great stories.  Raggylug (all alone without mummy)  faces a loooong snake. But she knows how to cope–after all, she IS a three-week old, itsy bitsy teenie weenie tiny baby bunny! Find out Why Rabbit Has Long Ears & a Short Tail (an “ah-ha” moment changes Rabbit’s appearance for all time). (Did Fox REALLY gets those fish by sticking his tail in the icy pond?) Who is the “Monster in Hare’s House,” with song refrain to guitar accompaniment. Funny surprise ending reveals a wittle monstah.
“Rabbit & Elephant”–Children volunteer to dress in African cloth, colorful masks & shake shakers & play mbira to act out this story. Can they turn a bully elephant into a pal with music?

Preschool PaloozaPreschool Palooza–The Week of the Young Child in April/Anytime

Lots of upbeat tunes, hand-play, word echoing and physical participation for the little ones who so love to be ACTIVE. MJ sings, plays guitar, invites them to move, chant and wiggle, and has superb crowd management skills, so things stay pleasantly–well, managed. The kids find MJ very funny, and she is ever so gentle with their tender hearts. You’ll be amazed, though, at how long the little ones simply sit still for a storyteller as seasoned as this. MJ is an expert at keeping their attention, and refreshing it with stories to look at–engaging all their senses for a loving literacy learning experience.  Teachers have a ball, too, and gain valuable techniques as they participate. Don’t wait. This is an expert, ready for your kids and professional development workshops for their tired teachers young and experienced.

Everybody Says Hello

Everybody Says HelloThis multilingual program is lively and entertaining, with stories sung, told in English with other languages, too—even drawn by audience children with big, colorful markers on a big poster you can keep on display if you wish. There are so many ways to say hello, and sing, and tell stories. The music and stories in this show explore other languages, too. Learn a song in Japanese and the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in Spanish. “Plant” cabbages the French way—with your nose, my leetle cabbage, mon petit chou, in a funny movement game/song that always makes you crack up! Grimm Fairy tale English with German, too.

Little to elders have a lot of fun trying out words in foreign languages sprinkled throughout the show! Eye- and ear-opening. Nominated for a Mass. Cultural Council Gold Star Program Award “Yes, they were little, but they had a great time and you were wonderfully patient and skilled at keeping them interested and involved.”-Judy Stoughton, Mansfield Ct Library

Song Dances from Around the WorldThis A-Way, Mezudio! Folk dance program

Mary Jo offers lots of song dances great for library literacy sports!DANCE with WORDS–Aka “This-A-Way, Mezudio” is all folk dances–easy breezy and super fun! This was a BALL all summer (2016), and I’ll do it anytime you like. It’s great for listening, building oral language WITH movement (the brain just gets all excited). It includes an African song-dance for partners, group Caribbean joyful creative expression and laughter in Mezudio (kids BEG for this again), a Pioneer play party type game under big cloths that serve as rivers with a rare song of Texan rivers (and show all you don’t need a fancy, expensive computerized game for kids to be really, really happy), and more, in this joyful celebration of reading through dance and song games. Faces all light up as we clap and join in the easy fun. Best for 4-5 up, but we always deal lovingly with the littles. See calendar for free dates near you, or book it!

November: Native American Tales & Tunes

Offer a delightful selection of Native American stories that children & adults love. Perfect in November, when we turn indoors, and inward. Celebrate Family Literacy Month, too! Hear How Raven Brought Light to the World–Tlingit. Kids love how this shape-changing trickster becomes a baby who tricks Grandfather, The Girl Who Cured Herself–drawn on a big easel pad, in honor of the Napaskiak method of drawing tales in snow or sand, Dinah’s Rock–a contemporary folk song based on a true story of an Abenaki girl in the place now called Maine, Southeastern drum with sing-along honoring Mother Earth, Glooscabe & the Baby (“Goo!”) with drum–hilarious tale in which Baby proves itself stronger than an arrogant giant, even Native American riddles. Why does the dog’s tail curl? What goes around the house but never comes in? Book this perhaps surprisingly satisfying show and find out.

Sun, Moon, Stars, Shine

Stories to Illuminate the Cosmos
Multicultural Myths to Illuminate the Cosmos are viewed through different, ancient cultural lenses.  The Vietnamese tale of the sun, with children in feathered costumes and the Tlingit (Native American) “Raven Brings Light” always bring laughs and wonder. A Wise Man of Chelm (medieval bobble puppet) decides which is greater, the Sun or Moon, Kurdish tale of the milky way, and how the face got onto the moon–so many stories and songs of light! A version of this show also works well for Winter Holiday celebrations and is perfect for the solstice. One of the most frequently booked shows.

TV interview and performance 2016 with Karen Chace

TV interview and performance 2016 with Karen Chace

Travel the World in Tales & Tunes

Visit the seven continents, huge on audience participation, with tales, tunes and drama representing each continent–multicultural all the way.

“Batis! Batis!” NEW OLD French folktale dress-up tale of the Three Little Pigs variant (gorgeous Pierrot hats and outfits). The audience will be singing a little French ditty–very witty! Watch the man and woman build houses for their little pet pig, little pet duck and little pet duck. You will not believe how THIS wolf blows the house down — petay! (think “petard”). You have a promise it will be tastefully — but hilariously — handled! Ukelele accompaniment.
Another NEW OLD TALE plays at all levels, with handplay for littles, and wonder for grown-ups–”Why the Moon Gets Smaller,” from Australia. Did you know that there used to be lots of moons? There was a giant….Learn how he creates the stars, and tell and play along. Quiet snow poem, much more. Tell us what countries interest you.

Everybody Says Hello

Everybody Says Hello

This multilingual program is lively and entertaining, with stories sung, told in English with other languages, too—even drawn by audience children with big, colorful markers on a big poster you can keep on display if you wish. There are so many ways to say hello, and sing, and tell stories. The music and stories in this show explore other languages, too. Learn a song in Japanese and the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in Spanish. “Plant” cabbages the French way—with your nose, my leetle cabbage, mon petit chou, in a funny movement game/song that always makes you crack up! Grimm Fairy tale English with German, too.

Little to elders have a lot of fun trying out words in foreign languages sprinkled throughout the show! Eye- and ear-opening. Nominated for a Mass. Cultural Council Gold Star Program Award

Skunk, Grease and Turpentine–Go West!

Skunk, Grease and TurpentineTales & Tunes of the American Frontier
Grease the axles; Darlin’, and hang the milk bucket. From hilarious tall tale Sally Cato, told in bonnet and apron, to pioneer dance to tales of the trail, this show turns you into a Conestoga traveler. You will learn about the settling of the West, sing along with miners and ’49ers, hear of rivers and Native Americans. I won’t forget the fiddle. Yep, they was tough and terrible times, but this show is near nothin’ but fun. Clementine, Sweet Betsy, Oh, Susanna! Aka “Star-spangled Calico”

People Could Fly–January’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King & February’s Black History.

People Could FlyStories of the African American Experience
Features “The People Could Fly,” an empowering tale of slaves who find wings; “Little Daughter,” who sings her way out of the wolf’s woods; “The Talkin’ Cooter,” riddle tale of freedom told with fiddling turtle (MJ fiddles); “Mm, Mm, Mm, Martin Luther King,” catchy story poem of the man’s life by C. Blake-Alston. Children act out “Rabbit & Elephant” (wit, music & cooperation turn a bully into a friend) in colorful masks, African cloth and African shakers & mbira (thumb piano). Learn & sing spirituals and the whole audiences dances a Gullah folk dance. Takes listeners from the struggle to the soaring spirit. Even wise old 6th graders have cheered in response. Maichack’s upbringing during the civil rights era affected her deeply, and the stories resonate. A surprising mix of laughter with powerful images enables all ages to connect to her love of this genre.

“Students K-8 loved it.”-Sr. Corinne, Principal, Mater Dolorosa, Holyoke, MA   “Highly recommended”-Leon McKinley, Principal, Mayberry E.S., E. Hartford, CT.

The Lake of the Croaking Frogs–Spring

Lake of the Croaking FrogsTales and Tunes to Honor Nature
Perfect for Earth Day or anytime you want to teach respect for the environment, also multicultural, this program offers the Japanese story of Kikosaburo and how a walk through his boyhood forest changes his heart, tale of the sun and pollution from Vietnam (a dress-up story), more. Songs exhort kind treatment of our earth and are catchy and fun.