Tag: Ernie Nolan

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Review: Bingo’s Birthday (Emerald City Theatre)

Alissa Sherwood and George Booker star as Farmer Pickle and Farmer Tickle in Emerald City Theatre's "Bingo's Birthday," created and directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)    
      
      
       
Bingo’s Birthday 

Written and Directed by Ernie Nolan
at Little Theatre, 2933 N. Southport (map)
thru Jan 4  |  tickets: $8-$15   |  more info
       
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October 27, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Charlotte’s Web (Emerald City Theatre and Broadway in Chicago)

Liam Dahlborn stars as Wilbur in Emerald City Theatre's "Charlotte's Web," adapted by Joseph Robinette, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
      
Charlotte’s Web

Adapted by Joseph Robinette
Directed by Ernie Nolan
at Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut (map)
thru Aug 17  |  tickets: $16-$24   |  more info
       
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July 16, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: The Three Little Pigs (Emerald City Theatre)

Mary Margaret Roberts stars as Siu in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
      
The Three Little Pigs

Music by George Stiles 
Book and Lyrics by Anthony Drewe 
Directed by Ernie Nolan
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 17  |  tickets: $10-$16   |  more info
       
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February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Teddy Bears’ Picnic (Emerald City Theatre)

Amanda Hartley stars as Mama Bear in Emerald City Theatre's "The Teddy Bears' Picnic," written and directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
      
The Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Written and Directed by Ernie Nolan
at EC’s Little Theatre, 2933 N. Southport (map)
thru Jan 5  |  tickets: $7-$14   |  more info
       
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October 17, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (Emerald City Theatre @ Broadway Playhouse)

Danny Taylor stars as The Cat in Emerald City Theatre's "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat," adapted by Katie Mitchell, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
       
Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat 

Adapted by Katie Mitchell  
Directed by Ernie Nolan 
Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut (map)
thru Sept 1  |  tickets: $16-$22   |  more info
       
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July 8, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Cinderella (Emerald City Theatre and Broadway in Chicago)

Kyle Michael Kuhlman as Ratford, Missy Karle as Cinderella, and Jennifer T. Grubb as Godmother, in Emerald City Theatre and Broadway in Chicago's "Cinderella", directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
      
Cinderella 

Adaptation/Lyrics by Alyn Cardarelli
Music by Steve Goers
Directed by Ernie Nolan 
Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut (map)
thru Jan 6  |  tickets: $16-$22   |  more info
       
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November 28, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Alice in Wonderland (Emerald City Theatre)

Maddy LaRoche (Alice) and the cast of Emerald City Theatre's "Alice in Wonderland", adapted and directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
       
Alice in Wonderland 

Adapted and Directed by Ernie Nolan
    Based on the books by Lewis Carroll 
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Dec 29  |  tickets: $16-$19   |  more info
       
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July 25, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Emerald City Theatre)

Mark Kosten, Tommy Bullington, Alex Heika, Maddy LaRoche, Patricia Lavery, Michael Rashid, RJ Silva and Jonathan Shroelucke in Emerald City Theatre's "Alexander and the ...Very Bad Day", directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)       
     
Alexander and the Terrible, 
Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Written by Judith Viorst and Shelly Markham
Directed by Ernie Nolan
at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru June 17  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info
       
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February 23, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (Emerald City)

     
Kyle Rehder as Rufus the Dog, Joe Goldammer as Cat, and Leah Raidt as Girl in Emerald City Theatre's If You Give A Cat A Cupcake, adapted and directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)
If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
 

Adapted and directed by Ernie Nolan
Based on book by Laura Numeroff 
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Jan 7  tickets: $13- $16  |  more info

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Download the show’s parent guide

   
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September 27, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Review: Pinkalicious (Emerald City/Broadway Chicago)

     
Pinkalicious The Musical 1 Pinkalicious 

Book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann
Lyrics by John Gregor, Elizabeth/Victoria Kann
Music and choreographed by John Gregor
Directed by Ernie Nolan
 
Broadway Playhouse, Water Tower Place (map)

thru Sept 3  | tickets: $16-$22  | more info

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July 17, 2011 | 6 Comments More

Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Emerald City)

     
     

Sanitized Wonka underestimates child’s intellect

     
     

Willie Wonka in Emerald City's 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" at the Apollo Theatre Chicago

  
Emerald City Theatre presents
  
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  
Written by Richard R. George
From fantasy by
Roald Dahl
Directed by
Ernie Nolan
at
Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
through May 8  |  tickets: $13-$16  |  more info

Reviewed by K.D. Hopkins

I get it. This is children’s theater, and for the 3-and-up group at that. However, the Emerald City adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory seems derived from much more recent sources such as ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘The Jersey Shore’. The timeless story from Roald Dahl has held the imaginations of a few generations. It’s about adventure and getting past the bad times with the help of family values. Dahl’s fantasy has a grim undertone that has now been given the cleaned up Grimm treatment.

Violet and Willy Wonka in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' by Emerald City Theatre Chicago.Some blame Walt Disney, but at least his Big Bad Wolf had dripping fangs. This “Charlie” felt like it was put together without much creativity. Let’s start with the characterizations.

Willy Wonka is portrayed as a Rip Taylor rip-off. (Google him) This Wonka didn’t throw confetti but his manic mugging and preening doesn’t get the overwhelmingly under-five crowd revved up at all. (Perhaps he should have run through the audience like Taylor, throwing confetti or copped the punk wig style.) The character of Willy Wonka is more mysterious and even sinister when played by either Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp. Some may say ‘don’t frighten the children’ – but we all survived the green-faced evil queen in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”.

The character of Augustus Gloop becomes a derivative of the SNL Schwarzennegger spoof called ‘Hans and Franz’. The tots didn’t get it and the parents were too busy trying to get them to watch this drivel to connect with the joke either. Veruca Salt is a cell phone-toting brat with a dog in her purse. Calling Paris Hilton! The Character of Mike Teavee is portrayed as an insolent youth obsessed with video games. It was more ripped from the headlines of spree crimes than an updated portrayal. Violet B. is a weird incarnation of the insufferable ‘Snooki’ zeitgeist from reality television.

As a parent and an aunt I was disappointed in the adaptation. This has either the aroma of someone who says, “I don’t watch television” or it’s just lazy writing. I include in the lazy category the sets and the Oompa Loompas. They were portrayed by finger puppets on a stick and then hinge jawed Muppet look-alikes (fyi: the hinge-jawed things were the most inspired part of this show.)

I have seen better at Emerald City with the productions of Pinkalicious (our review ★★★½) and Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus! (review ★★½). These shows used the well-known tagline ‘Discover a World of Pure Imagination’, but the creative team didn’t really put much of that slogan into this show.

I suspect that children are smarter and more imaginative than this. Generations have survived fairy tales from Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson without lingering damage. This antiseptic approach to a similarly dark fantasy is doing a disservice to the tot set. I graduated from the illustration heavy tot books when my mom took me to see “Peter Pan” some 47 years ago. An imaginative production at a children’s theater made me want to read more or have it read to me and, yes, it tweaked my imagination.

  
  
Rating: ★★
  
  

Charlie's father, Willie Wonka and Charlie in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' at Emerald City Theatre Chicago.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory runs about one hour without intermission. The show run is through August 15th of 2011. Go to www.emeraldcitytheatre.com for times and dates. With the long run, EC might make some improvements (or at least build some more Oompa Loompas). In the meantime, I suggest reading the Roald Dahl book (even abridged and illustration heavy!) to your children first and then ask what they have to say.

  
  
February 15, 2011 | 2 Comments More

REVIEW: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Emerald City)

  
  

Having fun while learning the importance of responsibility

  
  

From left to right: Daiva Bhandari as Duckling, Bret Beaudry as Bus Driver, and James Zoccoli as Pigeon.

  
Emerald City Theatre presents
   
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
  
From the books by Mo Willems
Adapted by
Ernie Nolan 
Directed by
Jacqueline Stone
at
Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru April 10  |  tickets: $13-$16   |  more info

To be clear, I am way past the age of three and above which is the recommended age for Emerald City Theatre’s Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!. However, there are always lessons to be learned about sharing, responsibility, and respect no matter one’s age. Ernie Nolan adapts this production from the popular ‘Pigeon’ books by Mo Willems. They include: “The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog”, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late”, “Pigeon Wants a Puppy”, as well as “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!”

It is a colorful and stimulating hour or so of entertainment for children. The set is a beautiful rendering of a city park that looks just like a children’s book. The music consists of fun lyrics set to familiar tunes like the “Can-Can” and Bizet’s Carmen.

"Can I PLEASE drive the Bus?" From left to right: Daiva Bhandari as Duckling, James Zoccoli as Pigeon, and Bret Beaudry as Bus Driver.Bret Beaudry plays the role of Bus Driver. His character is the moral consciousness and adult figure in the play. Beaudry lights up in this role. He is adept at playing for laughs and not condescending to the kids. Beaudry has a wonderful energy, especially in the game show segment when he dons a sparkly jacket and obnoxious bow tie.

Bus Driver is a well-drawn caricature and plays well off of the character of Duckling, played by Daiva Bhandari. Duckling is anthropomorphized as a human/animal hybrid but quite believable. Ms. Bhandari is delightful in a hyper-real yellow bob and tutu. Her character represents the good kid and great example.

It’s fun and educational to see Duckling win the game show by being prepared and responsible. The lesson was given without the hammer fist of good kid vs. bad kid.

James Anthony Zoccoli plays the role of Pigeon, and his character is the classic kid with ADHD. Pigeon is all over the place, wanting his way and pouting about never getting his way (insert wah-wah music here). Zoccoli is costumed in everyday baggy khakis, hoodie, and a baseball cap. I’m not sure why Pigeon wasn’t more outrageously attired or given more colorful accessories. Might it be that the costumer was making a statement about how common pigeons are in an urban setting-therefore the hip-hop attire?  It felt like Pigeon didn’t have some class privileges and was excluded. Whatever the reason, I found Pigeon more difficult to relate to from my inner child’s vision. Mr. Zoccoli is funny and good at relating the need for better behavior to kids but didn’t embody the same childlike zany energy coming from him. It was as if an adult had been dropped into the scene that had carte blanche to act like a kid.

Jacqueline Stone is the director for Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!. She does a good job of matching the pace with a child’s attention span. The different vignettes are reminiscent of a day in Pee-Wee Herman’s Playhouse: the scene of the giant puppy is a funny lesson in being careful what you ask for, as surely you will get it; the hot dog story was a great lesson in sharing. A general motif is created whereby the pigeon is basically manipulated or tricked into doing the right thing. I would have liked to see Pigeon happy about a lesson learned versus being miffed.

James Zoccoli as Pigeon is not so sure he wants a puppy anymore.

In paying attention to the kid’s reactions in the audience, it’s obvious that kids are very observant; it’s not easy to put something over on them. Kids will call you out on obvious stuff like it’s Duckling under the giant puppy head. It’s odd – kids will suspend reality for a human duck hybrid, but then spot the barely-visible bright yellow costume in a dual role as puppy.

Keep in mind that some children will be afraid having story books come to life. One little girl behind me was freaked out for most of the first half hour. She was crying to get out of there and I understood. I was the kid who had nightmares about Garfield Goose taking me away in a shopping cart. You never really know what is in a child’s mind.

Emerald City always has fun activities and props for the kids. Duckling was on hand before the show to put ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions (sticker dots) on paper hot dogs. The characters are available for pictures and autographs after the show as well. I recommend this show for kids 3 and up who have read the “Pigeon” series. It’s a fun and smart way to introduce theater to very young children. (It was also a great way to resolve my Garfield Goose issues!)

  
  
Rating: ★★½
  
   

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus! runs through April 10th, 2011 at the Apollo Theater located at 2540 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Go to emeraldcitytheatre.com for more information on Emerald City and the wonderful programs for early childhood education through theatre. The playbill has some fun stuff in it for parents and children to share as well.

From left to right: Bret Beaudry as Bus Driver, James Zoccoli as Pigeon, and Daiva Bhandari as Duckling.

Extra Credit

  
  
January 22, 2011 | 0 Comments More