Highly Recommended***** I have always been of the opinion that getting youngsters to live theater at an early age is the way to inspire them to want even more “live theater” and that is why, companies like Chicago Children’s Theatre are important to our “theater community”. As we introduce our youngsters to the concept of “live theater” over movies, we teach them more about emotion and creativity. As my Grandson Adam has said “a movie is like doing something on the computer cut and paste while theater is happening now!”. In a way, that truly sums it up. There is no going back! What happens ,happens and it is up to those involved to keep it comfortable for the audience. CCT brings us a variety of works and their current offering is bringing The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to our audiences.
This tale written by Eric Carle is a favorite that my grand-daughters were very familiar with. This story along with two other favorites written by Carle, “Little Cloud” ( which opened the production) and “The Mixed up Chamaeleon”, the second of the three are pure delights in puppetry performed by Kat McCormiack and Simon Rainville with the use of “black light” visual effects which kept the kids in focus for the entire 55 minutes of enchanting narration/story-telling ( Gordon Pinsent) masterful music ( composed by Steven Naylor) and the wonderful puppetry by the performers previously mentioned. Sarah and Rebecca were caught up in the flavor of the stories told. Rebecca, who recently turned 4, was very familiar with the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and her favorite part of the book became her very favorite part of the puppet show/production, the sixth day of eating for the Caterpillar where he eats every thing unhealthy that he should not- would a kid see anything wrong with cake, ice cream and candy as a treat, even knowing that a “tummy ache” will show up very soom?
Sarah sat through the first two magical stories waiting for more excitement as she put it and when the Caterpillar story began, I could see the smile on her face get larger. he knows this one and loves the part when after going through that eating week, he builds his cocoon so that he can become a beautiful butterfly.
The earlier stories, “Little Cloud” are geared towards getting the kids into the animation of the puppetry as there are no characters, just acloud to begin the morning and when we meet the Chamaeleon, we face the knowledge that he is confused about who he is and wants to be everyone else, but himself. As the story evolves, he comes to the conclusion that we are who we are and it is best to be the best “WE” that we can be. Using our knowledge and our talents in positives ways. This holds true in the Caterpillar as well. While he finds himself going through changes he is unable to know for sure what those changes will be until of course, they take place.
This is a stunningly beautiful experience for kids and I noticed that even the younger audience members ( perhaps as young as two) didn’t cry or yell or scream during this close to an hour of magic. Perhaps it is the magic of the puppetry that kept their focus, or the wonderful music and narration, but whatever the case , this is quality theater that will no doubt have an influence on our future theater audiences. Not one of these young people turned on a cell phone during the presentation. Or did they text! Or even play “words with friends”- they just enjoyed their morning of pure theater.
“The Very Hungry caterpillar” is starting its life at The North Shore Center for The performing Arts in Skokie- one week only , but it is heading down to the Gold Coast and the home of The Chicago Children’s Theatre from April 29th thru June 1st at The Ruth Page Center For The Arts, a lovely and intimate setting located at 1016 N. Dearborn Street in Chicago. The performance schedule there is as follows:
PUBLIC performances Fridays at 5:30 p.m.
Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Schools/groups Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Thursdays and Fridays at 10 a.m.
Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased by calling 872-222-9555 or online at www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org
At their website you can also learn about this company and its ability to make their shows ( with your help) available to inner city kids who might never have an opportunity without your assistance.
If you are planning to attend, why not bring along some non-perishable food stuff so they can donate them to families who are struggling with hunger issues.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”
There is some special parking at The Ruth Page
1250 N. Dearborn ($12)
1030 N. State ($12)
bring your ticket to the theater for validation.