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The Annoyance Christmas Pageant

The Annoyance Christmas Pageant takes two well loved, holiday children specials and combines them into two acts. Charley Brown Christmas follows Charley Brown on his journey to find the true meaning of Christmas, while enduring the commercialization of the season, and insults from Lucy Van Pelt. In Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Sam the Snowman tells the tale of how young reindeer Rudolph runs away from home to be independent, with his new found friend Hermie. Together they meet Yukon Cornelius, a prospector searching for silver and gold, discover an island of misfit toys and learn that it’s okay to be different from the pack. All while avoiding the Abominable Snow Monster of the North!

Thru – Dec 28, 2012

@ Annoyance Theatre

4830 N. Broadway, Chicago

Show Type: Children’s Theater – Comedy

Box Office: 773-561-4665

The Annoyance Theatre & Bar – Annoyance Christmas Pageant

Cinderella

For the first time on the Marriott stage – the original enchanting score from the creators of The King & I and Oklahoma! Join Cinderella, her Fairy Godmother, a handsome Prince, and two selfish Step-Sisters, as they turn “Impossible” to “Possible” in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most beloved tale.

Thru – Dec 31, 2012

@ Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire

10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

Show Type: Childrens

Box Office: 847-634-0200

Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire

By Robert Andersen

Theatre comes in many forms and can be seen in many locations. What you see and where you see it is your decision. During the next few weeks you should definitely make the decision to see Theatre Zarko’s Fools Tango at the Noyes Cultural Center in Evanston. The cozy theater on the 2nd floor is the perfect spot for this original production of artistic puppetry. Yes puppets, not marionettes or giant figures on sticks worked by groups of people, not Muppets or ventriloquist.

The genius behind this production is Michael Montenegro who writes, directs, stars in and creates the puppets. Fools Tango displays Montenegro’s skill on many levels through six different scenes. The show starts with him as the puppet, presented as his head on a puppet body. There are several scenes with traditional hand puppets and one where he is simply wearing a Picasso-esque paper-mache head as the puppet himself.

Fools Tango is billed as being expressly for children, however this is not your standard fare “kids’ show.” The fables, both playful and poignant, are realized through thought provoking conceptualization. As always, I took my two best judges with me; my daughters age 6 and 14. Evelyn, the 6-year-old, loved the puppets with Montenegro’s head on the puppet body, while Emma, at 14, liked the more introspective scenes with no dialogue. The other children in attendance also obviously appreciated the show.

Fools Tango is a mixture of expressions, emotions and wonderful artistry set to eccentrically inviting live music. Michael Montenegro puts together the perfect vehicle to showcase his talents and to engage the minds of his audience, both young and old, with imaginative perspectives delivered by ingenious puppets.

3 STARS

(“Fools Tango” performs Saturdays and Sundays in an open run at the Noyes Cultural Art Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston. 847-350-9275)

Theatre Zarko – Puppet Symbolist Theatre

Fools Tango production photos by Laura Montenegro.

* Visit Theatre In Chicago for more information on this show. Fools Tango – Noyes Cultural Art Center – Play Detail – Theatre In Chicago

Six Stories Tall

Inspired by Hispanic folklore, Six Stories Tall is a storytelling spectacle unlike anything ever seen on our stage. Featuring a live DJ and incorporating a unique mix of narrative influences including comic books, video games, hip-hop music and mythology, the six fantastical tales that comprise this remarkable play create a thrilling, heartfelt journey that families will not soon forget.

* Recommended for ages 8 and older (grades 3 and above). *

Thru – Dec 13, 2012

@ Adventure Stage Chicago

1012 N. Noble Street, Chicago

Show Type: Childrens

Box Office: 773-342-4141

Adventure Stage Chicago

Fools Tango

A selection of short comic puppet plays created to tickle your funny bone, Fools Tango is wild and sometimes poignant, full of visual surprise and haunting beauty ranging from the early repertoire to the very latest works by master puppeteer, Michael Montenegro. Live music composed and played by the incomparable Jude Mathews.

Read the 3 STAR review here: Fools Tango – REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Presented by Theatre Zarko

Open Run

@ Noyes Cultural Arts Center

927 Noyes St, Evanston

Show Type: Childrens

Box Office: 847-350-9275

Theatre Zarko – Puppet Symbolist Theatre

By J. Scott Hill

The Neo-Futurarium is one of the protected wild spaces of the arts in Chicago. Within this maze of a theatre, some tremendous performers can be observed in their natural habitat. On Monday nights, when the Neo-Futurists are allowed to roam off the preserve, the space houses a menagerie of monkeys — Barrel of Monkeys. Barrel of Monkeys’s long-running show That’s Weird, Grandma feels at home in the Neo-Futurarium, as it is certainly a related species to the Neos’ long-running show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Both shows feature multiple short plays. In both shows, some new plays are added and some old plays are retired each week. Both shows are high-energy, joyous, and unpredictable. Above all, both shows are rooted in ingenious writing.

The most striking difference between the Neos’ Too Much Light and Barrel of Monkeys’s That’s Weird, Grandma is that That’s Weird, Grandma is written by schoolchildren.

Foremost, Barrel of Monkeys is dedicated to arts education. Specifically, Barrel of Monkeys works with low-income and under-served third-through-fifth graders in Chicago Public Schools and at after-school programs. It is the stories by these children that are adapted into the short plays that comprise That’s Weird, Grandma. Some of these stories are liberally adapted for the stage, some are transformed into songs, and some are performed verbatim, but none lose the spirit or the language of the original story (the audience is even asked to follow along with the original texts, which are included in the program).

For the next couple of months, That’s Weird, Grandma has become Chicago’s Weird, Grandma, in honor of all the other Chicago theatre companies that are providing guest adaptations of some of the stories, in celebration of the show’s tenth anniversary.

The special guests throughout the run of Chicago’s Weird, Grandma are a diverse group of some of the top talent in Chicago theatre, including The Hypocrites, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Noah Ginex Puppet Company, and WildClaw Theatre. On opening night, the guest adapters/performers were House Theatre Chicago and Steppenwolf’s mighty Ora Jones.

Chicago’s Weird, Grandma, being fringe theatre by at-risk kids from schools in low-income neighborhoods, may be the most worthwhile arts outreach program in the city of Chicago, so much so that the performance itself might seem incidental — merely the inevitable, inconsequential product of an amazing process. Barrel of Monkeys, however, does not settle for a noble process without an equally noble product. In other words, Chicago’s Weird, Grandma totally kicks butt (I said butt).

Chicago’s Weird, Grandma is directed by Barrel of Monkeys’s Artistic Director, Chicago’s mistress of mayhem, Molly Brennan. Molly Brennan is to Chicago theatre what Bill Irwin was to New York theatre thirty years ago: the driving force behind a renaissance for clowning and variety performance. Brennan’s directorial hand bashes the audience upside the head with a sock full of childlike glee. In-your-face theatre has never been this explicitly happy. Edgy and children’s theatre are terms that do not usually butt up against each other in a review (I said butt again), but Molly Brennan-led Chicago’s Weird, Grandma is edgy children’s theatre that rivals anything done by and for grown-ups that comes out of those larger purveyors of Chicago-style sketch comedy (I’m looking at YOU, Second City).

The amazing writing in Chicago’s Weird, Grandma includes a story about ugly twin sisters who are both vying for the title of Ugliest Girl in the Universe, written by Alondro P. of Columbia Explorers Academy and performed by the ensemble. There was a triptych of epistolary stories, told from the perspective of one inanimate object to another, written by William K., Nick, and Sydney V. of Pritzker School, and performed by Ora Jones wearing footie pajamas given to her by her sister for Christmas. As a parent of a school-aged kid who has been standardized-tested nigh unto insanity, I found that the story “The ISAT Werewolf Day,” by Javohn B. of Dixon Elementary School, struck a feral and hilarious nerve as sharply as a number two pencil (I said number two).

This is as talented and cohesive an ensemble as I have ever seen in sketch comedy, anywhere. By mentioning a few ensemble members who stood out, I would be doing an injustice to the rest. The program lists Michelle Alba, Molly Brennan, Linsey Falls, Maggie Fullilove Nugent, Nick Hart, Diana Lawrence, Dan Rumney, Zoe Schwartz, Jeff Trainor, Dixie Belinda Uffelman, and Rachel Wilson. That adds up to more names than there were Barrel of Monkeys performers onstage opening night, but everyone onstage opening night rocked it hard.

With an ever-changing lineup of stories, and new special guests each week, Chicago’s Weird, Grandma puts a largely new show on display every Monday night. With the incredible writing of some Chicago Public School kids, and ensemble members talented enough to handle the genius stories written for them to perform, Barrel of Monkeys has had success with That’s Weird, Grandma that every outreach program and every sketch comedy troupe in Chicago would do well to ape. Chicago’s Weird, Grandma, a sub-species of That’s Weird Grandma, comes with all of the usual attributes, but also allows a few of Chicago’s theatre elite to attempt, for one evening, the brilliance that Barrel of Monkeys stampedes through the hearts of its audience Monday night after Monday night.

4 STARS

(“Chicago’s Weird, Grandma,” presented by Barrel of Monkeys runs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, Chicago.)

For tickets, reservations or information call 312-409-1954 or visit

Barrel of Monkeys | Event Calendar

Chicago’s Weird, Grandma!

Barrel of Monkeys

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon teaches young audiences that anything is possible with a crayon and a big imagination. Meet Harold, a curious four year old boy who, armed with his trusty purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it. This imaginative musical uses breathtaking animation, inventive puppetry, and original music to bring Harold’s purple-hued world to life; it is perfect for introducing young children to theatre while simultaneously captivating their older companions.

Presented by Chicago Children’s Theatre

Thru – Nov 4, 2012

@ Ruth Page Center For Arts

1016 N. Dearborn Pkwy, Chicago

Show Type: Childrens

Box Office: 872-222-9555

Harold and the Purple Crayon ~ Chicago Children’s Theatre

Sleeping Beauty

In a fanciful and far-off kingdom, the vengeful sorceress Magenta places a wicked curse on the beautiful Princess Amber. Only a kiss from her one true love can unlock the spell and wake this Sleeping Beauty before it is too late. Will Prince Hunter overcome his fears as he scales the mountains, sails the dark sea and battles a dragon to prove his love to Princess Amber? Children are invited to participate in the magic throughout this captivating and colorful fairy tale, featuring a soaring score and lively choreography.

Thru – Aug 18, 2012 ~ Wednesdays thru Saturdays – 10:00am

@ Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire

10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

Show Type: Children’s

Box Office: 847-634-0200

Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire

Beauty And The Beast

Bring your whole family to Navy Pier for this 75-minute heartwarming musical adventure based on the Academy Award-winning Disney film. It recounts the “tale as old as time” of a clever beauty and her ferocious captor—a young prince trapped under an enchantress’s spell, who must learn to love and be loved in order to break the curse. Dazzling production numbers, including the beloved title song and “Be Our Guest,” will fill CST’s Courtyard Theater. Audience members are invited to meet the cast in the lobby following each performance.

Thru – Aug 26, 2012

@ Chicago Shakespeare Theater

800 East Grand Avenue, Chicago

Show Type: Childrens

Box Office: 312-595-5600

Chicago Shakespeare Theater – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Peter Pan or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up

Join Li’l Buds Theatre for the adventure of a lifetime. Fly along with Peter Pan, and meet the lost Boys, the Pirates, The Darling family, Nana, Tinkerbell and the dreaded Captain Hook, as they take you on a journey through a child’s eyes into Neverland! This classic tale teaches us that with the power of our imagination and strength of our families love, anything is possible!

Presented by Li’l Buds Theatre Company ~ lilbudstheatre.org

Thru – Jun 17, 2012

@ Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

5775 N. Ridge Avenue, Chicago

Show Type: Childrens

TICKETS: Peter Pan or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up

Peter Pan

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