Monday, November 29, 2010

We're off to the "Lizard"

“Live theatre” and “my children” are not phrases that I usually think of in tandem. The possibility that my kids would be roaming the aisles, charging the stage, begging for snacks, or otherwise disturbing others was enough to make me put going to the theatre in the “let’s wait a few years” category.

I was wrong. We don’t need to wait. And neither do you and your rugrats.

A week ago Sunday, Bub and I went on a delightful “double date” with Bub's buddy and his mommy to see Emerald City Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz at the Apollo Theatre in Lincoln Park. I could not have been happier with our theatre experience.

After the thrill of riding together in the same car, Bub and his buddy got to make a special craft when we arrived --snowflake wands that the kids in the audience were asked to wave at a special point in the show. It was so cute to see Bub with his wand at the ready throughout.

The show itself was a winner -- exciting and accessible to two four year-olds who had never even seen the movie The Wizard of Oz and thoroughly, wittily entertaining for adults as well. The adaption was true to the story and spirit of The Wizard of Oz, honoring the music of the familiar film but also pumping it up and having some fun translating it for 2010. The performers’ had great voices and, just as important, great energy.
My favorite was the Scarecrow!

The total length was about an hour, and the fast-paced movement down the yellow brick road was ideal for keeping the young audience members engaged. Case in point: Bub did not ask for a snack or whine about hunger. He did not ask to go to the bathroom. Nor did he ask for a drink (even though you are allowed to bring beverages to your seats--bonus).

Bub did spend the first ten minutes of the show asking me why Dorothy did not have blond hair (not sure where he got the idea that she was going to or supposed to have blond hair). Mostly he just sat, wide-eyed, taking it all in and eager for The Wicked Witch of the West (played in drag, by the way) to reappear. Bub’s buddy was focused on how the Wicked Witch melted and what happened to "his clothes."

I’ve seen the first three quarters of the film The Wizard of Oz many times. However, I found the ending scary as a little girl and seldom watched the last thirty minutes. For me, it was a treat to see the story to its conclusion and from an adult perspective. Yes, there’s no place like home. And, yes, teamwork is important when you’re facing challenges. But the golden brick of wisdom that I took away from this production of The Wizard of Oz is that you already have everything you need, that what you seek is within you . . . especially if you let the strangers and friends you meet along the road help you find it.

Entertainment. Insight. Reasonably-priced parking. Can’t ask for much more on a Sunday afternoon.

Verdict: Live Theatre at Emerald City Theatre = very successful outing, even though Bub was still pronouncing “wizard” as “lizard” when it was over. I’m excited to take Bub to the theatre again and, after this test-run, I think I’m going to go ahead and bring Little Bit next time as well. We’re not expecting any young visitors this holiday season, but if we were, I would be all over taking them to this neighborhood theatre instead of traipsing along the Mag Mile in the cold or maneuvering through a crowded museum in an attempt to give out-of-towners a “genuine” Chicago experience. The Wizard of Oz runs until January 2nd and Pinkalicious runs until December 31st.

Is there a children’s theatre company in your corner of the world? What experiences have you had taking your kids to the theatre?

Disclosure: I was given tickets to The Wizard of Oz by Emerald City Theatre after their marketing director read my blog post about wanting to take the boys to see Pinkalicious. You gotta problem with that?! Also, I can only take credit for the photo of Bub.


Heather said...

Good for you getting free tickets! That rocks, almost as much as a fun outing with friends that I'm sure Bub will remember always.

I have only seen Curious George at the theater as a show with the kids, and it was so-so. Not especially engaging...

I love me some Wizard of Oz, though; watched it every year, and now own it on DVD. The monkeys freaked me out worse than the witch, for some reason.

Lady Jennie said...

The face that Dorothy was making here made me think it was a comic rendition.

(My grandmother's name was Dorothy, on a completely unrelated topic).

Stacia said...

Love the idea of the snowflake wand. And the wicked witch in drag. We'd love to see Pinkalicious ... Don't suppose it's a traveling show??

Steph said...


LAP said...

How cool to have a theatre like that so close by. BBs grandma goes to a lot of the local theatre performances here and his aunt (gmas driver) vouched that they are all really good. I keep watching for a kids geared one. I still remember seeing a local performance of Annie when I was little...thought it was pretty cool. Fancy and I saw the broadway touring version of Lizard last year and liked it though the witch was a little scary for her taste. If Pinkilicious ever came to the nati, we'd be all over that.

E... said...

Pinkalicious is coming to Dayton, according to my mom, in case you're interested, LAP. Berenstein Bears is up before it. Got to remind my mom she has to take the kids. She took O. to see If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and said it was really good. I opted not to go because I liked the idea of O. having a special "date" with his grandma, but then was a little sad I missed it.
This sounds great!

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