Looking for an entertaining way to teach your kids about making wise choices? Look no further than Chicago Shakespeare Theater's smart, articulate new musical, The Adventures of Pinocchio.
As we all know, this wooden boy cannot tell a lie with a telling nose issue. And in this new 80 minute musical adaptation, with music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill, the lesson about doing the right thing is placed front and center. Furthermore, under Rachel Rockwell's brisk direction, the show manages to keep even the shortest of attention spans engaged without going into hyperspeed -- a pet peeve of mine. Too often children's theatre is directed under the assumption that the only way to keep a child's attention span is by making it faster and louder. But this production isn't afraid to pace itself. (I do wish, however, they turned the mics up -- from my seat, it was hard to hear Bartram's clever lyrics.)
Sound issues aside, this a great summer show for the whole family. The production design is first-rate, using a clever mix of actors and giant marionette puppets, and the cast is filled with all sorts of fancy local talent, including Heidi Kettenring as a conniving cat and Don Forston as an immensely lovable Geppetto. The many, many kids around me gasped when Pinocchio's nose grew (thanks to a clever prosthetic) and marveled at the blue fairy's glittery gown.
I admired the creativity and talent -- this is smart children's theatre and a great way to entertain the kids while also teaching them an important lesson.
"The Adventures of Pinocchio" plays through August 28 at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Recommended for ages 5 and up. More info here. (Dates are subject to change; please visit ChiShake's website for current information.)