Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Adventures of Pinocchio at Chicago Shakepeare Theater

I was invited to see The Adventures of Pinocchio at Shakespeare theater, and I checked it out last week with my daughter Mia in tow (she turned 3 in April) and - just in case - our babysitter. The production is recommended for ages 5 and up, so I figured that perhaps after Mia saw Pinocchio doing his "I've Got No Strings" number, and after she got to meet Jiminy Cricket, she'd lose interest and the two of them could go explore Navy Pier.

Astonishingly (to me), Mia sat through the entire 75 minute production. I was surprised enough that she made it through the first scene, which was fairly scary and started off with Gepetto's wife "dying" - a word I've only recently introduced after the loss of our cat. There was booming thunder, lightning, darkness and an ominous storyteller voice, but Mia powered through, right on until the end.

I had assumed that this would be a pretty straightforward, if simplified, version of the Disney classic. Instead, Jiminy Cricket has no significant role, and we don't hear the classic songs "I've Got No Strings" or "Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide." However, this did not take away from my enjoyment one bit. The production was beautifully done, and the costumes held my attention as much as the story. The scene with the French marionettes was truly delightful, and the dancers really looked like they might have been operated by strings. The scenes with Fox and Cat were fantastic and they nearly stole the show.

The production is more dark than playful, but it brings home a message that's a good one for kids to learn: Life is full of choices - make smart ones (or you'll really be an ass!)

While Mia made it through, and even at one point told me "I'm really loving this!" I still agree with the recommendation of this show for ages 5 and up. There are definitely some frightening scenes, including Pinocchio and Gepetto inside the belly of the whale. Also, the storyline may not be terribly complicated, but some of the concepts will likely go over little ones' heads. I did occasionally whisper a quick, toddlered-down summary of the action to Mia to make sure she was keeping up, so at least she was generally following along.

Parents, you'll really enjoy this one as well, and you might even forget you're at a "kids' show."

Pinocchio is playing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier through August 28. Learn more at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pinkalicious the Musical

Until this morning, the only experience my daughter Mia and I had with Pinkalicious was reading the book one time at a bookstore about 4 months ago. It left quite an impression, and since then my daughter refers back to Pinkalicious when we talk about cupcakes or the color pink. So, there was actually much anticipation last night and this morning as we prepared for her 2nd ever theater experience.

Mia isn't known for her attention span, but within the first few minutes, she was in a Pinkalicious trance. The show begins with a scene that was at a level a three year old could understand, and that was also fun and engaging for older kids. Throughout most of the show, the pace was appropriate and the words in the songs were easy to understand, and the concepts were simple yet fun. There were a few faster paced numbers that I am certain Mia didn't understand, but it certainly didn't detract from her enjoyment.

One of my favorite songs was "Buzz Off," a fast-paced number featuring some bees and butterflies who mistake Pinkalicious for a flower. And the trip to Dr. Wink, where Pinkalicious is diagnosed with a case of Pinkatitis, is a musical romp where the actors have some fun with their quick dance steps and lines.

I did feel some concern for brother Peter, who was all but ignored by his parents, and I felt a little guilty watching Pinkalicious's mom spend too much time on her computer, but hopefully this all went over Mia's head.

After the show, we waited in a fairly long line for the chance to meet the actors and have them sign the autograph books that were passed out at the show.

Overall, a really delightful show that girls from 3 and up - maybe even age 2 - will really enjoy.

Emerald City Theatre at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place
175 E. Chestnut Avenue, Chicago
July 8 - September 3
Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Kiosk at Water Tower Place (845 N. Michigan Ave.), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations (including Hot Tix and select Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts and fye stores), and online at

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beauty and the Beast: Princess Perfect

Beauty and the Beast opened a six week run in Chicago, and little princesses from all over Chicago are making their appearances in the audience at the Oriental Theatre.

Kids will love the show, especially those familiar with the story and songs. It's best for the slightly older kids, as it's a lengthy show (more than 2.5 hours including intermission) and there are some dark parts that could be frightening. The scenes in the forest with the wolves could scare young kids, and the concept of a Beast kidnapping Belle would certainly give my 3-year-old some nightmares.

It's a festive show with lively performances for the more well known songs. "Be Our Guest" was one of the best numbers, with lots of high energy, great costumes and tinsel streamers shot out into the audience. I particularly enjoyed the beer-mug clinking number, but I think the complexities of that could be lost on the little princesses in the audience. Overall, this is a great show for little girls, and they'll enjoy seeing the movie brought to life on stage.

The show is at the Oriental Theatre through August 7, at 24 W. Randolph, Chicago. Tickets range from $18-85 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations and online at

Monday, July 11, 2011

Win a membership to the new Cubs Kids Club

Perfect for your little Cubs fans - the just-launched Cubs Kids Club, presented by ComEd. This is the official Kids Club of the Chicago Cubs, and we're giving away a free membership!

Members will get special kid-specific perks, experiences and merchandise throughout the 2011 baseball season. Benefits include:

* Official Cubs Kids Club membership card
* Cubs Kids Club lanyard
* Catcher's chest protector backpack
* Cubs baseball cap
* School supplies package
* Cubs stickers
* Coupon for one free Wrigley Field Tour ticket
* Discounts on Cubs sponsor products

Learn more at the official web site.

For your chance to win, email with the subject line "Cubs" by end of day Thursday, July 14!