Children’s theater in Chicago is powerful and our next generation appears to love seeing “live” productions, even more than movies. Hip-Hip-Hooray! Emerald City Theatre , calling the Apollo Theatre their home is now presenting a delightful little musical “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus”, one hour of pure magic for the little ones ( 3 and up) based on the series of “Pigeon” books by Mo Williems and adapted by Ernie Nolan who also did the choreography for this production. As they often do, children’s plays deliver a message to the kids, in a subtle way, so they don’t really know they are being taught, but they are! This production, bright and cheerful, directed by Jaqueline Stone, we have three characters- The Busdriver ( deftly handled by Bret Beaudry), Duckling ( a charming, sweet portrayal by Daiva Bhandari) and of course Pigeon ( an extraordinary performance by James Anthony Zoccoli). They interact with the audience ( kids and adults throughout the show with Zoccoli learning most of the lessons.
During the course of the show, Pigeon, learns about “sharing”, accepting responsibility and behaving. There are some adorable songs using the music of old favorites such as The William Tell Overture ( to some, the theme from The Lone Ranger) and “Follies” with some Can-Can dancing thrown in. To truly enjoy the show, Emerald makes the Bus Driver’s Responsibility Song available at www.EmeraldCityTheatre.com( it really made a difference at the opening- I would say that 50% of the audience knew the song) This is a very special day in the lives of these three characters and in this 62 minutes, the audience is able to help Pigeon learn some very valuable lessons. I took a young couple with me and their 4 year old daughter Jane truly enjoyed her experience. While she thought all the characters were really good, her favorite was Duckling. Part of her reason was the great costume ( designed by Branimira Ivanova). Jane couldn’t wait to do the meet and greet with the actors after the show for autographs and of course, Duckling was first.
Watching the kids in the audience at this show was almost as rewarding as watching the show itself. They responded to all of the requests by the actors and began clapping to the songs without any requests- they were into it. It is a delight for the children, the parents and yes, the grandparents- what a perfect way to spend some time with lessons to be learned as well. Things like not staying up to late, not trying to do things that you are not allowed to do, sharing and being kind to others- learning these lessons while having a great time- who could ask for anything more. One can see that a lot of work went into making this a solid production, one that will start these youngsters off in wanting to see more “live” theater. The rest of those responsible for making this a show to see are as follows:
Michelle Lilly ( set) Keith Parham and Margaret Hartman ( lighting),Joe Court ( sound), Joel Lambie ( super duper props) and Marta Johnson ( music coach)- you can see this production through April 10th. Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for children with some $10 tickets for each performance.Shows are Wednesdays at 10:15 2/2 and 3/3, Thursdays,Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. To check actual times visit www.emeraldcitytheatre.com
You can also call the Apollo box office at 773-935-6100. The theater is located at 2540 N. Lincoln Avenue and there is parking next door or on the street metered. Be prepared to come early so the kids can make a hot dog ( soundmaker) and decorate it on stage. The books are available for purchase as well. Enjoy! I know that Jane did ( as did I).