I've written before about how much I adore the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It's such a beautiful space, with creative and well-done shows. We've seen several productions there -- ironically none have been a Shakespeare play.
This time we went to The Emperor's New Clothes. As usual, it was a wonderful show. The set was simple and colorful. The costumes added dimension and humor to the characters. Our girls laughed at the clothes as much as the show. The story has been updated with funny references that keep the adults laughing while the kids enjoy the rest of the performance. And, it is funny -- not in that corny kids' show way. It's funny in a sophisticated way that entertains both children and adults.
About half-way through the show, my mind wandered a bit. It really had nothing to do with the show. It had everything to do with a talking child near us.
I wasn't mad. On the contrary, I expect children to talk during a family theater production like The Emperor's New Clothes. I watched the child ask the parent a question. The parent tried to quiet the child quickly. Through it all, the performers never broke character. It was like they didn't even realize the child was talking.
When I read the performer's bios, I realized these are all seasoned professionals. I think people don't give actors who switch between children's theater and more traditional, grown-up shows enough credit. These performers moved easily into a situation where most of the audience was under 12 years old, with the short attention span and restlessness that comes with that age group. Even when the noise level went up, the performers maintained their professionalism.
And they were professionals. They sang each song like they were on Broadway. Their voices were strong and clear, no matter where you sat in the theater. It's one of the most wonderful parts of seeing a show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The audience is close to the stage. No matter where you sit, you have good sight lines and can hear everything.
We were all happy to see The Emperor's New Clothes. While we were there, we picked up the upcoming schedule. The next time we go, it might just be an adults-only date night.