The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Children's theater from Canada and music from South Africa and Canada are the first 2014 events to be announced by Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia is scheduled to perform its stage adaptation of Leo Lionni's beloved children's books "Swimmy," "Frederick" and "Inch By Inch" at 2 p.m. on Jan. 26. The renowned Soweto Gospel Choir is slated for 8 p.m. on Feb. 14. The Canadian indie-rock group, Cowboy Junkies, is booked for 8 p.m. on March 8.

Tickets go on sale to Mahaiwe members today and to the general public on Wednesday.

"We are delighted to welcome families in from the cold this January for a performance that brings Leo Lionni's classic stories to life, and to celebrate Valentine's Day with the inspiring international sounds of the Soweto Gospel Choir," Mahaiwe executive director Beryl Jolly said in a written statement. "We are also looking forward to welcoming back the Cowboy Junkies, four years after they packed the house here in 2010. They've released ‘The Nomad Series' and the ‘Kennedy Suite' since then, so this performance will be new and just as fantastic."

Founded in 1972, The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia is a touring children's theater whose productions incorporate whimsical puppets. The company has a global audience, having performed for over four million spectators on four continents. At the Mahaiwe, they will perform their stage adaptation of Leo Lionni's Caldecott Honor books "Swimmy," "Frederick," and "Inch By Inch."

Swimmy is a tiny fish who uses ingenuity to fend off danger. Frederick, a poetic mouse, makes everyday life an artful experience. The third story is about a lovable inchworm who shares his facility for measuring absolutely everything. The show features an assortment of innovative puppetry styles and imaginative lighting techniques, as well as an original musical score. Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Soweto Gospel Choir has recorded and/or performed on stage with, among others, Bono and U2, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant, Celine Dion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Peter Gabriel, Josh Groban, and Andre Rieu. They have performed in front of President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Under the direction of choirmaster David Mulovhedzi and South African director and executive producer Beverly Bryer, the Soweto Gospel Choir shares the brightest talent from churches and communities in and around Soweto. They have won two Grammys, an Emmy and an Oscar nomination, and they have just released their sixth album, "Divine Decade."

Cowboy Junkies, a Canadian alternative country/blues/folk rock band, has released 16 studio albums, several live albums and a number of singles and built up a dedicated following in the alternative rock community. Since the release of their seminal album, "The Trinity Session" in 1988, Cowboy Junkies has appeared on countless major television shows in North America from "Saturday Night Live" to "Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show." Their music has been featured in dozens of television programs and feature films. In 2010, they launched "The Nomad Series," a four-album series ("Renmin Park," "Demons," "Sing in My Meadow," "The Wilderness") released over an 18-month period. The latest, "The Wilderness," was released in February 2012.

Complete ticket information is available at mahaiwe.org; by telephone at (413) 528-0100; or in person at the Mahaiwe box office, 14 Castle St.

Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and beginning three hours before performances.