Theater for children is an integral part of their learning process. All of these marvelous stories have a moral and offer children an opportunity to learn without being “preached”. Over the years, I have learned to love the work that Lifeline Theatre has done in doing adaptations of children’s stories and adding music to many. Their current production, “Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch” is an adorable hour of solid storytelling. Based on the book by Eileen Spinelli ( illustrated by Paul Yalowitz), adapted by Frances Limoncelli with some marvelous music by George Howe, “Mr. Hatch” allows us to see just how important love can be to an individual. Try to imagine a town where everyone is friendly, except one neighbor, Mr. Hatch ( a wonderful characterization by Michael T. Downey, who runs the full gamut of emotions to perfection- sad and lonely to happy and giggly).
When we meet him, he is Mr routine. Every day he does things exactly as he did before, alone. He rises in the morning, sweeps his steps, goes to work ( bringing the same lunch everyday), does his job, leaves for home stopping to pick up his newspaper and his dinner and then home alone to read his paper and then go to bed so he can do the same thing tomorrow. Eceyone else in town tries to talk with him, but he is a true hermit. Then, on Valentine’s Day, he receives a special package which changes his life. He now smiles and is friendly to everyone, helping them, becoming a friend. This is a fun show directed by Ann Boyd on a very clever set designed by Chelsea Warren ( who also does a bang up job with the props as well). Some of the seating area is used to be Mr. Hatch’s home and another section his place of employment. To make up for these lost seats, there are seats on the stage made into part of the play as Ms Boyd has designed this production to really get the kids in the audience involved in the telling of this heartwarming story that teaches them about acceptance, companionship and friendship.
The other three cast members, who play a multitude of parts are all bubbly, energetic performers ( this was the 2nd show of the day and they were still filled with energy) Michah J.L. Kronlokken, the adorable Tuckie White and the very funny Sara Sevigny handles all the other characters and help to get the kids ( and some of the adults as well) into the story, answering questions, playing catch and singing along. “Mr. Hatc h” is pure magic for the youngsters ( suggested 5 and up). As I watched the children, many of who were experiencing their very first theatrical production, I saw eyes glistening with delight, laughter at the right places and even a little sadness when the story called for it. There is nothing like watching children and their reactions- they are honest and their reactions are as well. They express what they see and feel openly and this production captured their hearts, just as it did mine.
“Somebody loves You, Mr. Hatch” will continue at Lifeline Theatre , located at 6912 N. Glenwood , in Rogers park, throughFebruary 27th with performances as follows:
Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 773-761-4477 or online at www.lifelinetheatre.com
There are also pay-what-you-can tickets one half hour before each show ( subject to availability) and if you want to make a party out of it, a party room is available for full service birthday and special events parties. call the box office for more information.
Free parking is available at the designated lot west of the theater located at Morse and Ravenswood with a free shuttle service to and from the theater.