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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Emperor's New Clothes

Recently I was offered tickets to Chicago Shakespeare Theater's production of The Emperor's New Clothes. Once I confirmed that Little Ricky was not too young to attend I quickly snatched up those tickets and eagerly anticipated his first theatre experience.

The day of the show ("it's the day of the show, y'all!") (Who knows that reference?), the three of us headed to Navy Pier. Pre-show we took a couple of touristy shots--look it's Ricky, Little Ricky and Chicago!

Same picture but with Mommy...I mean, Lucy. (Obviously the pronouns still need some work!)
And then we were off to the theatre.

Once we entered the theatre we were delighted by the set! What eye-candy full of bright greens and purples and pinks. Even the floor was painted with a wonderful design!

And then it was showtime. The house lights went down, the stage lights came up, the music started and Little Ricky was MESMERIZED by the lights, the costumes, all the bright colors and the music. He bounced along to the songs, clapped when each number was over and watched all of the comings and goings of the actors with a great deal of interest. And I?

Well, being a theater lover myself watching my son enjoy the show was almost more than I could handle. I have to admit I cried a little.

But I didn't just enjoy watching Little Ricky watch the show. The production itself is so entertaining with the aforementioned beautiful sets and big, bright colorful costumes that ranged from fairy tale to modern day. The story keeps the old-fashioned fairy tale feel, but also works in some modern touches (text messaging, the internet) that bring a fun, new feel to it.

And the acting was great! The rocky relationship between the Emperor (Dan Forston ) and his college-bound daughter, Sam (Megan Long), was beautifully portrayed. Kimberly (Alex Goodrich) and his Mama (Anne Gunn) offered humor, deception and at the end, redemption. Lord Vince, the smooth-talking bad guy, was played to the hilt by Jonathan Weir. And what great comic relief in Mark David Kaplan, George Andrew Wolff and Jarrod Zimmerman who played the Emperor's secretaries as well as various other ensemble roles.

We were sitting behind a row of kids who looked to be anywhere from 6 to 10ish. When the show ended, one of them jumped out of her seat, looked at her mom and excitedly proclaimed "I loved it!"

Really, what show could ask for more?

And if the show wasn't entertainment enough the program has a great section of kid's activities that tie in with the show. AND we got to meet the actors in the lobby following the performance.

Little Ricky wasn't so sure about Lord Vince!

They were also selling toys and books that related to the performance. Little Ricky's noggin was a little big for the crown (he's in the NINETY-FIFTH percentile for head size!) but he enjoyed trying it on.

Before we left we had to get one more picture. As this was Chicago SHAKESPEARE Theater we had to stop for a photo op with the Bard himself. I think Little Ricky likes him!

Thank you, Chicago Shakespeare Theater cast, crew and staff, for a wonderful first theatre experience for my little guy! It won't be his last!

If you have some little ones in your family who would enjoy a day at the theatre, The Emperor's New Clothes runs until August 29. Performances are at 11AM and 2PM most days and run 75 minutes without an intermission. Chicago Shakespeare Theater recommends this show for ages 5 and up and while Little Ricky did enjoy it, I would agree that children under 5 might not have the attention span for all of the dialogue. To purchase tickets, call312.595.5600 or visit chicagoshakes.com.

Disclosure: I was given three tickets to The Emperor's New Clothes. As always, all opinions are my own.

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