Harold and the Purple Crayon
By Don Darryl Rivera (book),
Talented creative team, cast wow by coloring outside the lines
|Chicago Children’s Theatre presents|
|Harold and the Purple Crayon|
Review by Katy Walsh
“Cool!” “I know what possibility means.” “That was fantastic.” “Oh yeah!”
“That’s funny!” “They are making an apple tree.” “I want an apple!”
Sometimes the unscripted responses of the young audience are as entertaining as the play in progress.
Chicago Children’s Theatre presents a new musical version of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Author Crockett Johnson wrote a beloved children’s book about imagination. Harold draws adventures for his make believe world. From the bottom of the sea to the side of the moon, Harold’s inventiveness transports him from his bed to beyond. His curiosity lets him have all kinds of experiences. Harold and the Purple Crayon drew me into some colorful playtime.
On arrival to Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new home space, everyone is invited to get their coloring on. Purple crayons are distributed. Paper lines the walls. Cast members mingle with the audience. The program is even a coloring book. The fun starts immediately. On the stage are various sized white screens and a kid’s bed. Nate Lewellyn (Harold) starts the show laying on his bed with a sketchbook and an oversize purple crayon. As he draws, purple scribbling fills the white backdrops. There is a lot of oohing and ahhing from kids and adults alike as Liviu Pasare’s (animation/video designer) projections translate the story onto the big screens. The animated sketches are both simplistic and detailed.
Director Sean Graney channels his inner kid to captivate both children and parents. Bringing the whimsy, Joanna Iwanicka (puppets/prop designer) and Alison Siple (costume designer) clad the cast with purple contraptions. Caterpillars, butterflies, dragons, aliens – the ensemble act out the scene carrying a puppet on a stick or wearing an oversize monstrosity. The look continually transforms with a swirl of wardrobe and prop changes. Director Sean Graney paces the show kid-friendly quick. The dynamic cast rises to the occasion with bust-a-move energy.
Along with the adorable pajama-wearing Lewellyn, Alex Goodrich and Bethany Thomas complete the cast. They are all in constant motion. They dance. They sing. They jump… a lot! Their harmonies have the sophistication of professionalism. But their non-stop frolicking is the kind of bubbling joy that kids radiate from an unexpected extended recess. This effervescent trio knows how to perfectly amuse by coloring out of the lines.
Harold and the Purple Crayon is purplicious! Draw the line and get there!
Harold and the Purple Crayon continues through November 4th at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn (map). Multiple dates and locations here. Tickets are $20-$36, and are available by phone (872-222-9555) or online through PrintTixUSA.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More informationa available at ChicagoChildrensTheatre.org. (Running time: 60 minutes, no intermission)
Photos by Michael Brosilow
behind the scenes
Sean Graney (director); Nicholas Davio (music direction); Geoffrey Curley (scenic design); Heather Gilbert (lighting design); Alison Siple (costume design); Tommy Rapley (choreography); Liviu Pasare (animation, video design); Joanna Iwanicka (puppet, prop design); Michael Brosilow (photos)