Thursday April 24th 2014

” Jackie and Me”

highly recommended    Several years ago, we were enchanted by a baseball story by Steven Dietz, dealing with the magic of a baseball card of one Honus Wagner and the magic it brought to a young man’s life. Now, Chicago Children’s Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Dietz adaptation of the popular novel written by Dan Gutman that teaches us a great deal about Jackie Robinson, the baseball player who broke the color barrier in the sport, “Jackie and Me”. Directed by Derrick Sanders, this roughly 82 minute history lesson detailing how Robinson changed America through his bravery in becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues.

Our other hero in this story is Joey Stoshak ( young Tyler Ross who wins over every audience member with his winning smile and marvelous stage presence), a baseball nut who has a special talent to time travel vis baseball cards. Yes, all he needs to do is squeezes the card and off he goes, back to, in this case 1947 to meet Jackie Robinson. He has had some temper problems on the baseball field himself and as a history assignment, during Black History Month, he must do an oral report about an African American who made a contribution to society, one that is very meaningful. Joey, through his magical time travel talent not only gets to learn what he needs to do his report, but, also learns some valuable lessons about courage and honesty and love as well as making one’s dreams become reality ( or at least trying).                                                        

“There is a hero in all of us” and this solid production, skillfully directed by Sanders on the not often used stage at The Ruth Page Center for The Arts located at 1016 N. Dearborn works because of the ensemble proving that.   In addition to the splendid work by Ross, Kamal Angelo Bolden is terrific as Robinson- he even looks like a baseball player. there is the ensemble- Tracey N. Bonner,Sean Cooper, Patrick De Nicola,Vanessa Greenway, Charles Stransky and the always reliable Ron Rains, yes six actors playing a great number of roles truly make this historical play a historical production.

The set by Ian Zywica and the lighting by Seth Reinick set the tone as do the costumes by Christine Pascual and the props by Kimberly G. Morris. The play moves quickly from now to 1947, from a suburban home to Ebbets Field and we even get to Yankee Stadium and meet Babe Ruth- the man who changed baseball, but while he made baseball the sport of America, Robinson made it the sport for ALL Americans and guess what? Joey’s oral report was aces!

To take advantage of this sweet bit of history as told by The Chicago Children’s Theatre you might want to call 866-811-4111 to order your tickets. The performance schedule ( through March 27th) is as follows:

Saturday February 12th through Friday , March 4th are:

Tuesday thru Friday 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Saturdays at 10 a.m. NO SUNDAYS/ starting on March 5th, the weekend performance schedule will be Saturday and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and the week days will remain as stated.

Tickets are $25 for children under 17 and $35 for adults and in addition to telephone orders, you can also order online at www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org

It is suggested that this show is for children 8 and up

If your children ( 15 and younger) are inspired by the show, they can enter a 500 word essay contest, but only through February ( Black History Month)- checkout www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org/essaycontest for details and get to go to a ball game or more.

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