By Erika Brown Thomas
Chicago Children’s Theatre presentation of An Epic Tale of Scale offers a unique theatrical event requiring truly active participation and willing imaginations.
This is not a “sit back and watch” type of theatre or even a show. Upon admittance, children are encouraged to explore a nutty professor’s library, replete with shelves full stuffed specimens, bottles with messages, plants, etc, while the professor himself gathers a group to begin the true experience. Participants discover that they need to be shrunk down to search for “the thing” that someone apparently ingested while perusing the cluttered library shelves.
A lab assistant ushers the explorers into the shrinking lab where Chicago Children’s Theatre has incorporated visual technology to help everyone “shrink” small enough to enter a human body.
At this point it would be good to advise anyone with even a hint of claustrophobia to step aside as the next several moments are spent in an enclosed elevator aka the PULMONARY ARTERY. Creative scenery and a clever actress escort the elevator occupants to the second floor and releases them into the LUNGS.
Another lab assistant requires the explorers to assume white hard hats (white blood cells) and parents put on red hard hats (red blood cells – a brief science lesson on the subject of blood and oxygen and then it’s off to the game, “Whack-a-virus.”
Following the LUNGS is an obstacle course through the INTESTINES and STOMACH that is carefully monitored by the professor’s assistants and then onward to an experience of the EYE of the body. Creative space and visual experience are particularly well realized on the stairwell.
From the EYE, explorers are accompanied to the BRAIN – and this is where some of the “mission” got a bit lost in translation. Messages from the BRAIN were written and stuffed into test tubes and special glasses colored and cut out for a rocket trip into SPACE. The latter was a bit unexpected, but involved fun with an alien, a dance party, a bird, black lights and bubbles. Incidentally, explorers were rapidly “resized” just before the space launch.
Lab assistants accompany explorers to each new region where additional assistants are waiting to guide adventurers through the activity – there is no time to feel lost or uncertain about where to go next. Tactile scenery and a scientific soundtrack enhance the hour-long journey.
An important portion of the production that unfortunately needs additional clarity concerns patrons’ mission to find “the thing.” Throughout the journey many participants wonder just where and what “the thing” is supposed to be, and even upon exiting the event, many still left wondering what it was and if it had ever been found.
Even with this bit of confusion, it is clear that the Chicago Children’s Theatre has created a journey of imaginative activities that are truly enjoyable for children – some require just a bit more suspension of belief than others.
This experience is open now through April 8. As this is an interactive event rather than a traditional children’s show – please see the following notes from Chicago Children’s Theatre concerning the production.
*DUE TO THE INTERACTIVE NATURE OF THIS PRODUCTION, THERE WILL BE NO LATE SEATING PERMITTED. NO EXCEPTIONS. PLEASE CHECK IN WITH THE BOX OFFICE AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR START TIME.
Ticket sales are final with no refunds. If you need to exchange your tickets, please contact Guest Services at 872.222.9555 *If you have special seating accommodations, please inform the Box Office 72 hours before your performance at 872.222.9555.
Please note, ticket buyers may be subject to exchange fees when exchanging performances. All exchanges are based on availability, and requests must be received no later than 10am on the Friday prior to your scheduled performance.
Chicago Children’s Theatre at The Station is is located at 100 S. Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60607. There is free parking available in the lot on the south side of the building, metered on the streets surrounding the venue, as well as at the ImPark Garage located at 1301 W. Madison St.
For more information please visit http://www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org/
To contact the Box Office call 872-222-9555, or email [email protected]
Box Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM (M-F).
Photos by Chuck Osgood.