With Barack Obama’s historic second inauguration on Martin Luther King Day, I was on the lookout for ways to bring home to my children the truths and travesties of racial inequality in our past. The Chicago Children’s Theatre performance of Bud, Not Buddy turned out to be an excellent and entertaining way to do just that for my ten-year-old daughter.
On a whim, I picked up the book a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then my daughter and I have hunted down other books written by Christopher Paul Curtis. When we heard that one of our favorites was going to be performed as a play, it was too fabulous an opportunity to pass up.
When I have attended children’s theater in the past, I have appreciated that my kids could be the beneficiaries of such a quality performance. In the case of Bud, Not Buddy, I enjoyed the performance for myself, as an adult. I think this would be a great choice for the kids as well as for a date night.
The script is both hilarious and powerfully moving. Somehow Curtis manages to weave a personal story of one young boy’s journey to find his father with historic events and details that also provide a big picture view of Depression-era Michigan.
The play’s set is spare, yet somehow manages to convey an orphanage, a never-ending road at night, a restaurant and a jazz club, among other homelike places.
The acting is phenomenal. In spite of his age, Travis Turner, as Bud, manages to convey the boldness and brashness, interspersed with tearful moments, of a youth, without sounding like an adult talking “baby talk.” Other actors, Tim Blewitt, Kamal Angelo Bolden, MyKele Callicut, McKenzie Chinn, Brian Grey, Cedric Mays, Andre Teamer, Genevieve VenJohnson and Cedric Young are phenomenally cast and manage to portray a wide variety of ages and personalities. Designers are Courtney O’Neill (scenic design); William Kirkham (lighting design); Rick Simms (sound design); Christine Pascual (costume design) and Nick Heggestad (prop design).
Bud, Not Buddy runs Jan. 12-Feb. 24, 2013. Showtimes are Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m.; Thursday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. (including pre-show pizza party at 5:30 p.m.); Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. (including post-show party); Saturday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Sunday at 11 a.m. Exceptions: No 10 a.m. performance Saturday, Feb. 2.
Single tickets are $26 for children, $36 for adults. Thursday evenings are $20 for dinner and show. Friday evening are $25 for show and party. To purchase, visit the Chicago Children’s Theatre website or call (872) 222-9555.
I highly recommend this performance to children ages 8 and up, as well as to adults.