Wednesday July 26th 2017

” How Can You Run With A Shell On Your Back”

Highly recommendedTheater for young audiences serves several purposes. The first is to entertain, the second to allow our youngsters to learn the appreciation of “live” theater and thirdly to teach the morals that exist in most of he stores told. Marriott Theatre for young audiences is now running the adorable “How Can You Run With A Shell On Your Back” written by Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler, both solid performers as well as brilliant writers- this is a story that involves the Fables of Aesop, fables that have wonderful morals and ethics for our youngsters to learn and live by. When this was first done at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre at Navy Pier, I took my twin granddaughters ( who are now 14) and from this, they gained an appreciation for theater but also became more aware of how to act and interact with other children as well as teachers. This time around, my grandson Adam, now six years old ,who loves attending theater and adding his views to my reviews and his sister, Sarah , who is almost 3, who “was not scared” as she was with “Pinocchio”. They were truly into the lively music and the wonderful characters that make up this show.

                                                       

The premise of the show is that six students are in detention ( sort of like a juvenile “Breakfast Club”) which is being attendd to by a substitute teacher played to perfection by Mark Kaplan ( one of Chicago’s best character actors) who truly would rather be somewhere else, but as he gets these six students attention using the fables of Aesop, “Androcles and the Lion”, “The Ant and The Grasshopper”,”The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and of course “The Tortoise and The Hare”, the detention kids take on these roles and bring these fables to life, not only learning about the stories, but about themselves and their peers.

Directed by Dominic Missimi and choreographed by Ericka Mac, this is one hour of pure pleasure for young and old. I do suggest that if you can, it would be helpful to have read these stores to your children ( or grandchildren) before attending the show ad it allows for better understanding to see a new and different presentation of the old fables as thought out by youngsters. As they take on the characters in their own little snippets, they learn a great deal about imagination and of greater importance how to understand who they are and their relationship to others. Howie ( Natle Lewellyn) is the new kid at the school and all semester has tried to make friends, but never participated in anything and always stood back; Ari ( the always funny Alex Goodrich) is the class clown who is not as funny as he thinks he is, making most of the kids stay away from him. Savanah ( the adorable Tiffany Topol) is the “I have it all girl” who wears the right clothes and hangs with the right people. She is “above” all the others , most of who don’t realize that your backpack should match your shoes, or you in the wrong crowd, for life!. Adrian Aguilar plays Jackson the athletic cool guy who tries to skirt by in school because he is “cool” and a star athlete and most everyone is afraid of him, Daisy, the sit in the back of the room quite girl is deftly played by Andrea Prestinario and Riley, the “teacher’s pet” straight A student is played by Dara Camron ( who the audience recognized as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” recently done at Marriott.

This is an inspiring production that adults can appreciate as much as kids. I watch the audience in many of these productions- to see their reactions and to see if their interest is held for 60 minutes. This one does it and watching Sarah ( again, not quite 3) I say my granddaughter entranced by the characters and she was one of the first to applaud as each of the delightful musical pieces ended. Adam, who is an old hand at attending shows, liked the show a lot and over lunch told me that he felt they followed the stories fairly well and his favorite was “Androcles and the Lion” ( Goodrich as Androcles/Aguilar as the King/ Topol as the Lion), Sarah, loved the “race”. Just so you know, the “race” takes on a different take with it not being a running down the road from town to town, but instead running for office in the student council with the new kid (Lewellyn) and the popular athlete ( Aguilar) running against each other. The ending will surprise you and at the same time give you a special feeling as these six students having nothing in common form a new sort of friendship that you feel will remain for some time to come.

“Shell” will continue at Marriott Theatre , located on the grounds of The Marriott Lincolshire Resort through May 22nd with perforances, Wednesday through Sundays at 10 a.m. There will be NO performances from March 28th-April 6th- Spring Break and will have special added shows on  April 15th and 22nd at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are a mere $15 and can be purchased at the box office, 10 Marriott Drive,Lincolnshire ( the resort is located just south of Route 22/Half day Road and just east of Route 21/Milwaukee Avenue) with plenty of free parking. to order by phone, call 847-634-0200 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. You can also order at www.marriottTheatre.com

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