…try taking them to the theatre (spoken with a British accent!).
The Chicago Children’s Theatre is now showing The Houdini Box, a world-premier musical adventure based on the book by the same name, by Brian Selznick, who also wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a 2008 Caldecott Award winner.
The book has gained recent attention after Martin Scorsese released his first-ever 3D family film, Hugo, based on Selznick’s book. Now the movie has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The story, The Houdini Box, involves Victor, a mischievous boy who is also a devoted fan of Harry Houdini. As Houdini travels around the world performing one incredible and amazing stunt after another, Victor practices his own version of Houdini’s stunts, in spite of his mother’s protests. Then one day, after a chance meeting with the magician himself, Victor receives a special box that may or may not contain the secrets to Harry Houdini’s success.
The performance is enhanced by the puppeteering magic of master puppeteer Blair Thomas who directs and creates sets and puppets for CCT’s The Houdini Box. (He is already a recipient of two prestigious development grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.) Book and lyrics are by Hannah Kohl, with original music by Mark Messing, music director of Chicago’s #1 circus punk marching band Mucca Pazza. Although the production is geared for all ages, and is family-friendly, it is more appropriate for those children 5 and up.
One of the nice things about living in Chicago is having access to such a wide variety of cultural events and opportunities. I want my kids to be able to experience as much of what Chicago has to offer as possible. In this instance, I love the idea of reading the book with my daughter, seeing the play, and then comparing and contrasting the experience of each. I think it is important for our kids to experience productions different from what they see in the movie theater or on DVD. I can imagine some great conversations about what a movie can do that a play can’t and vice versa, as well as the way that each works to produce emotions and other responses from audiences.
Performances of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s The Houdini Box are Jan. 24-Mar. 4, 2012 at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago. The 7 p.m. performances on Feb. 3, Feb. 10 and Feb. 24 will be have an expanded program called, “An Evening of Magic,” where, following the show, award-winning magician Brett Schneider will perform amazing feats of magic and illusion. Tickets to all performances are $15-$36. For tickets and information, go to chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call the Mercury Theater box office, 773.325.1700.
CCT’s Chicago run of The Houdini Box will be followed by a suburban remount, Mar. 14-25, 2012 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd. in Skokie. Tickets are $15-$41. For tickets and information, go to chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call the North Shore Center box office, 847.673.6300.