Free family entertainment series comes to Artesian Commons in downtown Olympia

A new event series called “Play! at the Well” starts this weekend as a way to bring more families to downtown Olympia.

The series features free performances over the next three weekends at the Artesian Commons, 415 Fourth Avenue East. The series is hosted by the Capital Recovery Center and Downtown Ambassador Program, both of which actively focus on issues in the city’s urban core. Capital Recovery Center provides mental health services, while the ambassadors clean up litter, remove graffiti and offer hospitality services.

“It’s sort of a collective effort to make downtown more exciting,” said Heather Moore, executive director of Capital Recovery Center, about the series. “We’re really interested in talking about solutions.”

Families are invited to attend a free production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” beginning at noon Saturday. This 35-minute rendition of the classic C.S. Lewis tale is presented by Olympia Family Theater.

Jen Ryle, artistic director for Olympia Family Theater, praised the new series for encouraging families to visit downtown — and promised a crowd-pleaser this Saturday. The two-person show features actors Jordan Richards and Heather Christopher, and is directed by Kate Ayers. The show has toured all over Western Washington and is designed for a school-age audience, Ryle said.

“They change characters rapidly, which is fun to watch,” said Ryle, noting that the theater is preparing to move into a new home this summer at the Capital Playhouse in downtown Olympia.

Saturday’s inaugural event runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes water-related activities for children. There are two more weekend shows for Play! at the Well. The Heartsparkle Players will perform 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 2, and Blue Laces will perform 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 9.

Located at the historic artesian well, the Artesian Commons officially opened May 3 as downtown Olympia’s newest park and public gathering spot.