Fight the Winter Blues with a Little “Soul” at Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money
My kids and I are longtime fans of Christopher Paul Curtis. Of all the many books he has written, our top favorites have to be Bud, Not Buddy and The Mighty Ms. Malone (both of which I highly, highly recommend).
For a younger crowd (and for some lighter reading), my daughters and I would also recommend Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money and Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission. If you and your kids enjoy these books, then you will definitely want to take advantage of the Chicago Children’s Theatre production of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money.
Part mystery, part music history and total heart-tugging comedy, the story follows the adventures of 10-year-old Steven, who is in training to be a spy while also serving as president of the “Flint Future Detectives.” After his good friend Mr. Chickee leaves Steven in charge of his dog, “Zoopy” and a mysterious bill with way too many zeroes (but that still claims to be “legal tender”), Steven and his friends are on a hunt to get to the bottom of the mystery, all the while being hunted themselves. Along the way, Steven learns the true value of family and friendship and what it really means to be “rich.”
My eight-year-old daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I loved that she was able to learn about motown, jazz, disco, rock, hip hop and rap (she liked hip hop the best). She also learned more about James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. I was amazed to learn that the music and lyrics for this performance were written by Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son Paris. It turns out that Christopher Paul Curtis listened to Mr. Dozier’s albums over and over again while he was writing this book. The songs were full of toe-tapping fun, but I was especially grateful for the musical education that they afforded my daughter.
The Chicago Children’s Theatre performance of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money runs now through March 2, 2014 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 North Dearborn, Chicago. Tickets start at $25; to purchase tickets visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call 877.222.9555.