The town of Wake Forest took over the former Tuxedo Junction, a space for private events and performances, nearly a year ago. The spot reopened in November as the Renaissance Centre, a home for performing arts, classes, camps and other gatherings, including birthday parties, weddings and meetings.
And in the last few months, the center has ramped up its offerings for kids and families. There are now nearly weekly performances geared toward young children. Summer camps and workshops for preschoolers and up are available. First Friday Flix offers free movies - sometimes family flicks such as "Frozen" and "Despicable Me 2" recently - on the first Friday of the month.
And there are plans for more activities and performances, including a possible Friday morning free movie series for families that could start this summer.
"It's like a living room here," said Pamela Stevens, the center's manager, of the Friday evening movies. "The kids can sit on the floor. They can move around. They don't have to sit for two hours like in a movie theater."
I chatted with Stevens and Cathy Gouge, center specialist, on Wednesday before a performance by Forest Moon Theater, the Wake Forest-based community theater. The theater performs children's shows at the center almost monthly.
Wednesday's show, called "The Winds of Change," featured a dog, cat and mouse. The kids were asked to help the performance along by pretending they were waves and wind and by dancing a so-called package dance when one of the characters got a package. It was a sweet story about three friends coming together after not getting along. My preschooler loved it.
Carolina Puppet Theater, which had performed for years in downtown Raleigh as Kazoom Puppet Theater, will be offering twice monthly shows starting this summer. The theater's Ms. Poly and Ms. Ester, along with their superstar puppet Bartlet, tell stories, sing songs and more. They also perform regularly at Holly Springs Cultural Center.
The center's summer workshops and camps include a cup stacking workshop for kids 6 to 10; an acting program for preschoolers; a summer theater conservatory for kids in sixth to ninth grade; and a creative writing program for high schoolers.
Going forward, the center plans to offer regular scrap and open craft nights, which include make and takes and time for the public to work on their scrapbooks and other crafts. Gouge said friends often bring dinner and craft together while they chat and catch up. That sounds like a fun evening for a moms' night out. The next one is scheduled for July 18. Tickets are $10.
There's also a storytelling festival Aug. 9 and a Princess and the Pea Tea on Oct. 18 when visitors are encouraged to dress in their princess best. Rags to Riches Theater will be performing for that one.
And there are other events, including a 3 p.m.., June 8 performance by WRAL-TV's Bill Leslie and his ensemble Lorica.
In June, families can catch the Carolina Puppet Theater at 11 a.m., June 4 and June 18. Forest Moon Theater will perform a family show at 11 a.m., June 25. Tickets for each show are $5 and are available online.
Stevens and Gouge said the center's schedule is changing and growing over time as they learn what the public wants to see.
"We're totally open in hearing from moms what they would like to have for their kids," Stevens said.