Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch make a splash

A fish, an inchworm and mouse beloved by generations of children will come to life this weekend and enchant audiences at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia will bring three Caldecott Honor children's books by Leo Lionni to life using innovative puppetry and lighting techniques: "Swimmy," the story of a fish who shows his friends how to overcome danger; "Frederick," the mouse who spends harvest time gathering words and colors instead of seeds and nuts; and "Inch by Inch," which tells of an inchworm who can measure anything.

Mermaid Theatre has spent almost 40 years making the world's best books come alive for youngsters. Their production is accompanied by an original score, and each performance comes with free pre-curtain play activities and a reading area with children's books; the additional activities begin one hour before the performance.

Intended for kids ages 4 to 8 and first staged in 2006, the show is a part of the center's Family Series, and is a key part of its new Discovery Series for kids in that age group. A new Explorer Series is for kids 7 and older.

Mermaid Theatre, founded in 1972, has performed for more than 4 million children on four continents. The well-respected company has become an ambassador for the performing arts as well as literature, performing everywhere from Northern Ireland to Macau.

Through its puppetry, the company opts to focus on challenging texts, offering original music and cutting-edge design elements in its shows.

Mermaid presents more than 400 shows each year to about 200,000 children, teachers and parents, and has been to 48 states; this year, in addition to its North American tour, the company will travel to Singapore and South Korea. By operating two touring companies, Mermaid will perform the same show in Alberta, Canada, and Seoul, South Korea, on the same day.

If You Go

What: "Leo Lionni's Swimmy, Frederick, & Inch by Inch"

When: Through Sunday

Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: $20

Information: (714) 556-2121 or scfta.org

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