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    Fall Arts Preview

    Critic’s picks: Family entertainment

    William Wegman’s Weimaraners in “Beyond Human: Artist-Animal Collaborations” at the Peabody Essex.
    William Wegman
    William Wegman’s Weimaraners in “Beyond Human: Artist-Animal Collaborations” at the Peabody Essex.

    Potted Potter Even a Firebolt broomstick couldn’t whiz through the seven-book, 4,100-page Harry Potter saga as breezily as this two-man show. The 70 minutes of parody, covering everything from Dobby to the Death Eaters, sounds spellbinding. Recommended for “ages 6 to Dumbledore.” Sept. 17-Oct. 6. $39.99-$99.99. Paramount Center, Boston. 617-824-8400.

    T-Rex on the Loose What, a corn maze can provide more than just where-do-we-go-next laughter? Don’t clue in the children that there’s education to be had. Speaking of clues, there are ones to be found at every turn in this exploration of the Age of Dinosaurs. Information on many extinct species, in the form of quiz answers, will help guide you through the eight-acre layout. Through Nov. 2. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. every day; starting Sept. 20, “flashlight nights” till 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. $10.95-$12.95, under 3 free. Marini Farm, Ipswich. 978-238-9FUN,

    FreshGrass Banjos, fiddles, and mandolins make kid-accessible sounds no matter what. But along with bluegrass both traditional (Del McCoury Band) and cutting-edge (Infamous Stringdusters), the festival lineup will also include music aimed explicitly at families by mussy-haired Dan Zanes and another singer with indie rocker roots (and a ex-nursery school teacher pedigree, too), Elizabeth Mitchell. Sept. 20-22. Friday 6:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. Three-day pass $38-$78; day pass $8-$38; 6 and under free. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams. 413-662-2111,


    Harlem Globetrotters This isn’t a sports event, it’s performance art for young patrons of lowbrow culture. Before heading off to Paris and Berlin, the “Sweet Georgia Brown” troupe performs two nights in Maine. Maybe your little one will be among the lucky targets of the melodramatic bucket full of “water.” Sept. 20-21, 7 p.m. $18-$70. Cross Insurance Center, Bangor. 800-745-3000, and

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    Mister G’s ABC Fiesta ¿Quieres bailando? This Latin dance party will be orchestrated by Mister G, a singer-songwriter who wins over kids by being
    vivacious but not mawkishly childish. His latest record, “ABC Fiesta,” is bilingual with a multitude of world rhythms, the songs celebrating both music and reading. Sept. 22, 2 p.m. $8-$10. Regent Theatre, Arlington. 781-646-4849.

    Pumpkinville USA Is orange your favorite color? It might be soon. This year’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular will feature 5,000 squash sculptures (all with holiday pie filling removed) depicting the history and culture of not just New England but pumpkin-producing regions around the country. Oct. 3-Nov. 6, 6-11 p.m. $9-$15, 2 and under free. Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence. 401-941-4998,

    Dragons Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages . . . Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, though perhaps not since you were a child. Now it’s the kids’ turn to pay wide-eyed attention to the elephants and clowns, trapeze flyers, and animal acrobats of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. “The Greatest Show on Earth,” in its 107th year, makes three local stops. Oct. 3-6 at Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, N.H.; Oct. 9-14 at the DCU Center, Worcester; and Oct. 16-20 at TD Garden, Boston. Show times vary. $15-$140. 800-745-3000, and

    Beyond Human: Artist-Animal Collaborations From painting elephants to posing Weimaraners, this exhibit features more than three dozen pieces created by artists working with live animals. It serves as the reopening of the Art & Nature Center, designed specifically to address the artistic interests of young families. Opens Oct. 19. Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $11-$16, 16 and under free. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. 978-745-9500,


    The Hobbit A wizard, elves, sages, archers, and a magic ring are all part of the fantasy in the J. R. R. Tolkien adventure story, adapted for the stage by Patricia Gray. Oct. 25-Nov. 24. Fridays 7:30 p.m., Saturdays-Sundays 3 p.m. $20-$35. Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston. 617-879-2300,

    Sleeping Beauty Want to see a fairy tale come alive? There are strings attached. ArtsEmerson presents Colla Marionette, a renowned Italian puppetry theater company that dates to the early 19th century, taking on the classic story with dozens of marionettes, a vividly imaginative set, and an iconic Tchaikovsky score. Nov. 13-17. $25-$79. Paramount Center, Boston. 617-824-8400,

    Red, Yellow and Blue Orly Genger started with 1.4 million feet of nautical rope, painted it in three primary colors, knotted it by hand, and will sculpt it into a massive art installation whose shapeliness is informed by the Sculpture Park’s swelling hillsides and winding paths. Opens Nov. 1. $10-$14, ages12 and under free. (On Nov. 17, 1-3 p.m., there will be a hands-on kids’ project exploring rope and string.) deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln. 781-259-8355,

    The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the GoddessesSECOND QUEST Beethoven never would have based a symphonic work on a Nintendo video game (he was more of a LudWii guy), but Koji Kondo has made a franchise of it. His original four movements have been supplemented by new material for this year’s multimedia presentation. Nov. 2, 8 p.m. $38.75-$92.75. Citi Wang Theatre, Boston. 866-348-9738,

    Peter and the Wolf The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Family Concert Series opens its season with Federico Cortese conducting the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra — with some members as young as elementary school age — in the 1936 Russian children’s story with spoken words and music by Sergei Prokofiev. Nov. 16, noon. $20 adults, 18 and under free. Symphony Hall, Boston. 617-266-1200,


    Mister Seahorse and A House for Hermit Crab The Picture Book Theatre, with its puppets and dancers (and no doubt some dancing puppets), takes two books by writer-illustrator Eric Carle and presents them onstage at the children’s museum that bears the author’s name. Nov. 23, 2 p.m. $5 plus museum admission. Eric Carle Museum, Amherst. 413-658-1100,

    BOSTON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM Celebrating its 100th birthday, the museum hosts a “Power of Play Gala Weekend” Oct. 4-6, with a dance party followed by a festival of arts, science activities, and more (including a huge inflatable birthday cake). A month later, the dancing continues with “Boston Ballet Day,” a full-day interactive preview of a holiday favorite. Characters from “The Nutcracker” will greet young visitors, who also can take a dance class and hear selections by the Boston Ballet Orchestra. Nov. 11, 11 a.m. Included in general admission ($14, under 12 months free). Boston Children’s Museum. 617-426-6500,


    Jeff Wagenheim can be reached at