The Elephant and The Whale, a world premiere all-ages show, is a collaboration between Chicago Children’s Theatre and Redmoon- companies well known for their onstage spectacles. With its abundance of gramophone music, pedaled panoramas, and incredibly detailed puppets, this show doesn’t disappoint. The Elephant and The Whale, directed by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, is the story of a traveling circus in 1919, and hard times are forcing the weary owners to leave it all behind them. They sell off their possessions one by one; the tent, the clown noses, even their star attraction: the elephant performer Ella. Ultimately, the circus is purchased by a greedy businessman, who orders a million gallons of sea water for his new attraction, a tank for “mermaids”. A whale is unwittingly trapped in all of those gallons and a new sideshow (that of the ugliest fish on earth) is born. The under appreciated elephant and the homesick whale form a friendship and communicate plans for their escape in what the spectators believe to be beautiful songs.
The staging is lovely and the show’s use of puppetry is nothing short of magical. Shadows, contraptions, and miniature scenes played out in trunks all illustrate this tale of adventure and friendship. The energetic cast (Kurt Brocker, David Catlin, Kasey Foster and Becky Poole) shifts seamlessly from narrators to puppeteers to stagehands, all while conveying this gorgeous story. My three year-old was entranced for the full hour, and eagerly called out answers to the actors’ questions. Even though this show is geared for young audiences, adults will find plenty to enjoy, and will be transported alongside the children to the skies and oceans and rolling landscape of this sweet performance.
April 10th- May 26th, 2013
For more information, visit Chicago Children's Theater at chicagochildrenstheatre.org
Ruth Page Center for the Arts 1016 North Dearborn Street Chicago, IL 60610
Performance Saturday, May 4th at 11am is Chicago’s first ever “autism-friendly” live event
Thursday evening shows include a free pre-show pizza party, and Friday evenings include a post-show craft.
Disclosure: I was provided with complementary tickets. My review is honest and my own.