As the year winds down to November, indoor events fill the calendar with family-friendly theater productions, ranging from a Broadway musical to a cool scientific inquiry. Early holiday traditions begin to pop up, too, with refreshing outdoor jaunts. These can’t-miss November events for Pittsburgh families and things to do with kids are certain to amuse and divert.
1. Nov. 2: “Dork Diaries,” Carnegie Library Lecture Hall
Author Rachel Renée Russell and illustrator Nikki Russell created the blockbuster “Dork Diaries” series. The mother-daughter team will visit Pittsburgh’s dorkiest fans as part of Word & Pictures programming. Their books, which chronicle the misadventures of middle school students, have been translated into 42 languages, reaching a delighted worldwide audience. Join the Russells in person or virtually. Registration for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures event is free.
2. Nov. 2-19: “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play,” Little Lake Theatre
Anne Washburn’s dark comedy examines the evolution of storytelling as the basis of mythology. Here’s the plot: After an apocalyptic event that combines a power grid destruction, a deadly contagion and a near-nuclear meltdown, six survivors gather around a campfire and distract themselves by recalling an episode of “The Simpsons.” Seventy-five years later, these Homer and Sideshow Bob pop culture references become the legends of a generation. Cowabunga! Bart Simpson endures. Best for ages 13 and older. Tickets are $25, $15 for those younger than 16.
3. Nov. 3-12: “The Miracle Worker,” New Hazlett Theater
Prime Stage Theatre Company opens its season with the Tony Award-winning play about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. Helen, deaf and blind from the age of 19 months, is an aggressive handful for her parents, who tend to indulge her demands. Her life changes with the arrival of Annie, a feisty young woman with a stubborn streak that matches her charge. Their volatile relationship is conveyed with drama and humor in a production that is best for ages 11 and older. Tickets include pay-what-you-can dates, as well as sensory inclusive, ASL and audio-described dates.
4. Nov. 9-10: “Giraffes Can’t Dance: The Musical,” Byham Theater
Giles Andreae’s bestselling children’s book presents Gerald the Giraffe who wishes he could dance. He laments that his knees are too crooked and his legs too thin. All the other jungle animals know their special dance, but Gerald is clumsy and awkward. At last, he receives inspiration from an unlikely source that helps Gerald dance to his own tune. This stage adaptation includes puppets, African rhythm and lots of dancing. Tickets start at $30.25.
5. Nov. 10-12: Cirque Carnival, Heinz Hall
Troupe Vertigo aerialists, acrobats and strongmen are choreographed to live music performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Troupe Vertigo executes their amazing physical feats in front of and above the orchestra. This performance registers high on the wow! scale for all ages. The Los Angeles-based theatrical circus company ignites the imagination with an eclectic mix of spellbinding skills your family is certain to enjoy. Tickets are $25-$105.
6. Nov. 10-12 and 17-19: “Nanny Claus: The North Pole Nanny,” South Park Theatre
Any story about a nanny is likely to involve kids who are out of control kids and up to all sorts of shenanigans — even at the North Pole. Mother and father Elf are too busy working with Santa to have time to care for their kids. When the naughty antics of the Elf family children cause yet another nanny to quit, Nanny Claus shows up to take them in hand. The musical includes a magical snowman and a visit to Santa’s workshop. This South Park production takes place in the indoor theater. Tickets are $10 for grownups, $6 for students and free for ages 3 and younger.
7. Nov. 17-Jan. 6: Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The spectacular holiday favorite returns with Holiday Magic, combining a beautiful indoor flower show with a brilliantly lighted outdoor experience. The indoor “Season’s Greenings” theme includes a topiary cat curled up on a succulent armchair in front of a cozy flickering fireplace. Look for whimsical gnomes who use berry garlands, mushrooms and pinecones to decorate a tree. Spend time admiring the miniature Garden Railroad with a look at Pennsylvania through the seasons. Outdoors, wander through the Winter Light Garden where you will find photo ops galore among the bright displays. Timed tickets are required.
8. Nov. 24: The Science of Santa with Doktor Kaboom!, Byham Theater
Doktor Kaboom!’s holiday extravaganza considers the question: Are science and magic the same thing? Perhaps, he posits, Santa Claus is the world’s greatest scientist. In this surprising program, aimed at kids in grades 2-5, Doktor Kaboom! works to recreate and prove Santa’s magical wonders through basic physics. Don’t worry, the Doktor promises that no holiday icons will be damaged in his presentation. His shows keep kids riveted with science and screaming with laughter. It’s a sneaky way to educate with exhilarating fun. Tickets start at $25.75.
9. Nov. 24-Jan. 1: Dazzling Nights, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden will be transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of lights, music and shining forests. The experience includes a field of 2,000 dancing illuminated flowers. Handmade Moroccan lanterns hanging from treetops offer a fiery glow. A walkway invites visitors to hop along interactive lights that turn on step by step. Dress for the weather and plan ahead with comfortable footwear. Timed tickets are $22-$25 for adults, $19-$22 for ages 3-13 and free for ages 2 and younger. On-site parking passes are $15. Off-site parking at CCAC West Hills Center is free with a complimentary shuttle.
10. Nov. 28-Dec. 3: “Mrs. Doubtfire,” Benedum Center
PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh presents this new musical comedy, based on the film starring Robin Williams about a father who will do anything for his kids. Rob McClure will reprise his Tony-nominated Broadway performance as an out-of-work actor who disguises himself as a Scottish nanny in his starring role portraying “Mrs. Doubtfire.” His co-star (and real-life wife) Maggie Lakis plays the mother. This feel-good, family-friendly comedy is as heartwarming as it is laugh out loud funny. Tickets start at $38.
Nov. 11: STEAM Studio: Harvest Homes, Trust Arts Education Center
Nov. 18: Highmark Light Up Night, Downtown
Nov. 19: Giving Thanks on the Frontier, Oliver Miller Homestead