Monday, August 2, 2010

Mommy/Son Day : "The Emperor's New Clothes" @ The Chicago Shakespeare Theater

I am always on the lookout for fun activities that I can do with the kids. Summer days (okay, fine...most all days) have been getting boring and monotonous, so anything I can do with the kids to shake things up a bit is welcome in my book. We have big, new, and exciting changes going on in the next few months (jumping in to homeschooling!), so getting a chance to spend our precious time doing fun things is a plus.

I was recently contacted by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater regarding the introduction of their newest family musical, The Emperor's New Clothes. And being a theater family (Daddy's biggest dream is to be an actor, and I....well, I like the directing side a bit more), this was a welcome and inviting opportunity for us.  Being able to take Jonah to his very first theater show was something very important to me, and not something I was going to allow to be experienced for the first time while on a field trip with a school group, or even with a grandparent. This one, this experience.....was all mine.

I read up on the show, to ensure it was something Jonah would enjoy. With songs and dances, and the intimate Chicago Shakespeare Theater, I knew we were headed in the right direction. And to then soon learn that the Chicago Children's Museum was working in correlation with the Theater to bring an artistic workshop for "young, up and coming actors", I knew a day of fun was in store for Jonah and I.

The show was a refreshing 75 minutes in length. Perfect to keep the attention of a 3.5 year old boy, but long enough to make the trip to the city completely worth it. The scenes were the perfect length too. I liked how the actors used the entire THEATER in their performance; entering through the aisles and dropping props from the ceiling. The stage was even an exciting bold, pattern and the castle sparkled even while the lights were dimmed and sets were being changed.  The theater did get pretty dark at times, but once Jonah understood the in's and out's of how a theater show worked, he didn't mind the dark. I think it also helped that there was "just enough" light to see the actors adjusting and placing the props and sets, so that helped too.

The show was fun, entertaining, comical, modern, upbeat, educational, heartwarming, and sweet. I didn't remember much of this storyline before we saw the show, except that the Emperor was "naked" at the end. I did worry how they would portray that scene. I won't ruin it for you (because you certainly should get tickets and go!), but I will say it is tasteful and completely and totally family-friendly.

I laughed at many jokes and one-liners that were made throughout the performance.  Jonah even laughed along too (whether he understood the joke or not), and even made sure to clap at the end of each scene (he even had to remind ME a few times "Clap, Mommy, clap!")

Alex Goodrich ("Kimberly") was the hit of the show. He plays the son (yes, son.) of the local designer (Mama played by the very funny Anne Gunn) of New Patagonia.  He kept the story modern and hilarious. He often referenced 21st Century terms like "texting" and "websites" and "cell phones". There was never a dull moment when he was on stage and his singing voice is clear and crisp.  I would actually be interested in seeing him in performances of other shows, because he was seriously, THAT entertaining.  Not to mention, scenes with Kimberly and Sam were always cute, quirky, and sweet.

Sam (played by Megan Long), the Emperor's college-bound, environmentally friendly, 18-year old daughter has a voice that is carefree and untouchable, amazingly pure and gentle. She is a true natural on the stage and her voice is the one I remember most from the show. Her character is sweet, yet powerful and her determination is undoubtedly exemplary of a strong young woman. With songs like "I'd Rather Be Me", she is sure to show young girls that it's okay to be who you are, and not what other's, even your parent's, want you to be. Sam will also dazzle you in her sentimental and lonesome "The Mom Song". I admit, I teared up a bit.

I won't tell you how it ends, I'm sure some of you know, and some of you don't. But that's the beauty of it. Even if you know the story, you don't know THIS version, meaning, there are some differences, to keep the show modern and entertaining. Some things are a little different, but that's okay. And that's what makes it fun! Being able to watch this performance, and be surprised by the differences. The differences are good, and trust me, you will laugh a lot, and maybe even cry a little.

This show was perfectly appropriate for Jonah, even at the age of three. And I am certain, even someone 103 would love the show just as much. Well worth the trip, and even Jonah missing his afternoon nap. The ticket prices are totally reasonable ($18 for children 12 and under, $23 for adults), and all Chicago Shakespeare Theater patrons receive 40% off of their parking (and we all know the insanity that is parking in the city of Chicago).

To make the trip even MORE worth it, I highly suggest stopping off at the Chicago Children's Museum, where in the Kraft Artabounds Studio

The Children's Museum admission is also pretty reasonable ($9-$10), but if you check out there website, there are a number of times you can receive FREE admission! It's fun to make a whole day of this event, with the combination of the performance and the museum (all neatly placed within Navy Pier makes it easy and convenient too), it really made for a well-planned and perfectly engaging and active day for us.


As if my post hasn't made you want to click right on over and purchase tickets RIGHT NOW, there is MORE!

Just use or mention the code MOM to receive $5 off your ticket order with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater for any performance of "The Emperor's New Clothes"! (Fine print: Subject to availability. Cannot be used with any other offer or on previously purchased tickets.)

The show is playing all the way up until Sunday August 29, 2010. So don't miss out! You won't be sorry!

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