and the Whale
Script and Lyrics by Seth Bockley
Big-sized entertainment for the entire family!
|Chicago Children’s Theatre i/a/w Redmoon Theatre presents|
|The Elephant and the Whale|
Review by Katy Walsh
The best indicator of an engaging children’s show is the stillness of the kids. From lights up to blackout, this audience is transfixed. Everyone is glued to their seat as the theatrics commence. Of course, there are the frequent giggles, exclamations of identification like ‘mermaid’ and the response ‘I said it first.‘ Still, the bustling is at a minimum because no one wants to miss any of the activity onstage.
Redmoon is all over this show! They are a company known for their whimsical pageantry. So, they bring their big trunks of innovation to Chicago Children’s Theatre. Literally, oversize trunks open up and the sea falls out and actors fall in. The teaming up of Redmoon and CCT is a clever collaboration. Redmoon loves its gadgets and gizmos. CCT loves it target audience, kids! The synergy is a natural melding. Redmoon unpacks its 4-person cycle and we’re off to the circus. They also unpack all their best toys: puppets on sticks, puppet heads, an oversize shadowbox, a water gun, a banjo, and a scrolling story board. All these imaginative contraptions are guaranteed kid-attention-span friendly.
Directed by Leslie B. Danzig and Frank Maugeri, this show is heartfelt vaudeville. The talented ensemble of Kurt Brocker, David Caitlin, Kasey Foster and Becky Poole play well together. Playwright Seth Bockley has written the entire show in rhyming verse, and since Caitlin speaks Seuss fluently, his oration charms as the animated and witty narrator. At key points, the other three interject their primary personalities into the tale. Brocker plays the villain with mustache-twirling mockery. (Okay, he doesn’t have a mustache but his puppet’s bushy eyebrows are comical.) Giving voice to Ella the elephant, Foster beautifully serenades the whale and the audience. Although Poole is hysterical as gruff matron of the circus, her whale expression is haunting. Poole uses a saw and bow to make the whale sound. This high-energy cast is in-sync with each other and the kids. Everyone is having fun at this playtime!
The Elephant and the Whale is an adorable story about friendship. The creative team of conceivers, designers, and performers work overtime to ensure it is a marveling spectacle. The Elephant and the Whale is a biggie – a big time and big-sized entertainment for the entire family!
The Elephant and the Whale continues through May 26th at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn map), with performances Tuesdays at 10am, Wednesdays 10am and noon, Thursdays/Fridays at 10am and 6:30pm, Saturdays 11am and 6pm, Sundays 11am and 2pm. Tickets are $25-$36, and are available by phone (872-222-9555) or online at PrintTixUSA.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More info at ChicagoChildrensTheatre.org. (Running time: one hour without intermission)
Photos by Charles Osgood
behind the scenes
Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (co-director, original story), Frank Maugeri (co-director, conceiver, original story), Seth Bockley (original story, script, lyrics), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design, original music), John Musial (scenic design); Sarah Hughey (lighting design), Jillian Gryzlak (costume design), Liviu Pasare (projections), Andrea Everman (shadow puppet design), David A. Loranca (stage manager), Charles Osgood (photos).