Bud, Not Buddy
A heartfelt tale with plenty of *aha* and *awwww* moments
|Chicago Children’s Theatre presents|
|Bud, Not Buddy|
Review by Katy Walsh
Chicago Children’s Theatre presents Bud, Not Buddy. Bud is a ten year old growing up in the Depression Era. Life has been rough for him. His mama died four years ago. The boys at the orphanage bully him. Then, when his new foster family lock him in a shed, Bud decides to hit the road. He’s leaving Flint, Michigan and heading to Grand Rapids. Bud believes he’ll be reunited with his dad there. Now, his mama never told Bud the name of his dad but he’s fairly certain it’s a jazz band leader called Herman Calloway. So, Bud heads on a journey to meet his destiny. What he finds along the way is an unanticipated life. Bud, Not Buddy is promoted as a show for children, ages 8+. I found it to be perfect for adults too. It has an old soul that requires four tissues minimum.
Author Christopher Paul Curtis wrote a powerful book about a young black boy alone in the 1930’s. Adapter Reginald Andre Jackson translates Curtis’ essences to stage. Jackson coats the life lessons with drama and humor. Jackson uses Travis Turner (Bud) to narrate this running-away-to-something-better adventure. This spunky and forthright Turner would have been adopted by anyone in the audience. Turner pulls at the heartstrings as he interjects his own rules of life along with remembering guidance from his beloved mama. Director Derrick Sanders stages the journey from Flint to Grand Rapids with gritty circumstances overcome by genuine human kindness. After Bud gets out of Flint, this is more than a feel good show. It’s a feel fantastic show while learning the importance of hard work, perseverance and understanding.
Initially, I worried that the content was too complicated for kids to understand. Before Bud gets to Flint, he goes from orphanage to foster home to library (?) to shanty town. There is talk of vampires and boxes of blood. It’s a lot of extra baggage on the road trip. Once in Flint and Bud is with the band, the large talented cast becomes more distinct and full of personality. It’s easier to decipher who is who and what is what. Time with the band carries a more playful tune. The guys and the lovely Genevieve VanJohnson (Miss Thomas) bring some dazzle to Bud’s unfortunate circumstances. Then, the story twists in a surprising direction. There is definitely precious *aha* and *awwww* moments. Gorgeous serendipity! And I’m completely ready to continue my joyful weeping for the next few chapters of Bud’s life. But the show is over.
Ah, Bud, Not Buddy, I could have watched you grow into a man. Still, I loved our time together.
Bud, Not Buddy continues through February 24th at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn (map), with performances Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am, Thursdays at 10am and 6:30pm (includes pre-show pizza party at 5:30pm), Fridays at 10am and 6:30pm (includes a post show party), Saturdays at 2pm and 6pm, Sundays at 11am. Tickets are $36, and are available by phone (872.222.9555) or online through PrintTixUSA.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at ChicagoChildrensTheatre.org. Ideal for ages 8+. (Running time: 90 minutes without intermission)
Photos by Charles Osgood
behind the scenes