Hooray for Harold and the Purple Crayon
Harold and The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is a popular bedtime story pick at our house. In fact, my husband has declared that this book was his childhood favorite and it was the first children's book we purchased when we were expecting our daughter 8 1/2 years ago. So needless to say, expectations were high for the Chicago Children's Theatre's rendition of Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts when we went to check it out last week. We've been lucky to see a number of performances courtesy of The Chicago Children's Theatre (most recently Goodnight Moon) -- and this group consistently delivers high quality children's theatre (that mom and dad truly enjoy as well). In case you are new to the the story of Harold and his adventures, let me get you up to speed. Harold is a curious four year old boy dressed in super cute pjs. Armed with his trusty purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it. When Harold wants to go on a walk in the moonlight, he finds there is no moon. So Harold draws one. When he has nowhere to walk, Harold draws his own path. Along the way he encounters dangerous dragons, embarks on a perilous sea voyage in a trim little boat, takes a hot air balloon ride, and enjoys a nine-pie picnic. When he grows tired, Harold draws himself back to his own bedroom. Chicago Children's Theatre's Chicago premiere of Harold and the Purple Crayon stars Nate Lewellyn (Harold), and Alex Goodrich and Bethany Thomas. This performance features Goodrich and Thomas as "storytellers" who embark on this creative journey with Harold. I have to confess that I have mixed feelings about this departure from the story. While I understand that the charter of Harold needed other people to interact with on stage, the other two performers were often way more entertaining and engaging than Harold himself. We absolutely love Alex Goodrich from his work in previous shows and his performance is once again the real stand out. The scenery is the other show stealer. We all loved how the set really brought the story to life as Harold used his larger-than-life purple crayon to create purple images across the stage. My kids were marveling at the special effects here. In addition to the cool set and inventive costuming, the live music was another real treat. We took advantage of the pre-show pizza party (offered for select performances) and my kids also enjoyed the program books full of activities (and complete with a purple crayon naturally) almost as much as the show. Other pre-show activities included the chance to draw on butcher block paper attached to the wall of the theatre. The one-hour run time was about as long as my kiddos could handle on school night. They were wiped out by the end of it. The performers hung out in the lobby after the show and did an amazing job of interacting with the little theatre-goers. Seriously, this is a first-class cultural opportunity for Chicago-area families. Worth every penny...