Last Saturday, I took my nearly four-year-old son and not-quite six-year-old daughter to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favorites performed by the Mermaid Theater Company of Nova Scotia and presented by the Chicago Children's Theatre at the Field Museum.
The 50-minute show includes 3 of Eric Carle's familiar children's stories: Little Cloud, The Mixed-Up Chameleon, and The Very Hungary Caterpillar. Each story is told through the magic of florescent puppets and black light -- and trust me -- this show has lots of magic.
One of my little theater-goers (I am not going to name names) was a bit
apprehensive about seeing this puppet show because of some prior
experiences that left a bad impression (I am talking about you,
terrifying puppets from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!)
everything about this show was fabulous and it truly was a theater experience for
children. We were
immediately put at ease when the announcer declared that this was a "no
shushing show." Kids were free to laugh and comment and say
the words to the story along with the narrator (as it should be with children's theatre performances).
The imagery in the show was really amazing. The puppets and
scenery were absolutely true to Eric Carle's original illustrations, but
with an added dramatic dimension. For example, as the caterpillar eats his way through mountains of food, he periodically pauses and
looks at the audience in a quizzical, lighthearted way. The chameleon puppet had a similar charm. The characters
successfully convey a sense of personality as they move around stage and interact with the audience.
This show is recommended for
children ages 3-6. My four-year-old son loved anticipating what was coming next based on his knowledge of these familiar stories. My
almost-six-year-old daughter spent most of the show trying to figure out
how the puppets and scenery were moving around the stage. Based on our
experience, I think that children up to age 8 would actually love this
Our favorite part of the show came at the end when
the puppeteers took questions from the little audience members and
explained the magic behind the show's fascinating illusions. The kids
were riveted by the explanations and demonstrations of the technical
tricks used throughout the show (I found it pretty interesting as well).
I were going to be nitpicky, I would have to admit that I thought that
the artificial grass surface that the majority of the audience
sits on was pretty itchy and uncomfortable. The show also started 10
minutes late and when you are dealing with audience members who have
extremely short attention spans, 10 minutes matters. But other than
those two insignificant complaints, I whole-heartedly recommend this
show for families with young children.
The show runs
through May 2nd at the Field Museum. The Chicago Children's Theatre asks
that audience members bring canned or dried goods to donate to The
Greater Chicago Food Depository. Those who contribute will be entered to
win a gift basket. Tickets are $25 for children age 12 and under and
$35 for adults (ticket price includes post-show museum access). Visit the Chicago Children's Theatre website to more info on how to purchase tickets for your little theatre-lovers.