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Chicago Children’s Theatre’s ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’

Nate Lewellyn stars as title character 'Harold Purple Crayon' Chicago Children’s Theatre.

Nate Lewellyn stars as the title character in "Harold and the Purple Crayon" at Chicago Children’s Theatre.

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CHICAGO CHILDREN’S THEATRE’S ‘HAROLD AND THE PURPLE
CRAYON’

Through Nov. 4

Ruth Page Center for the Arts,
1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

◆ Tickets, $36 for general-admission seating and $10 discount for children

◆ (312) 337-6543; ruthpage.org

Nov. 7-11

Beverly Arts Center,
2407 W. 111th St., Chicago

◆ Tickets, $36 for adults and $26 for children on the main floor, $31 for adults and $21 for children for the balcony, or $41 for adults and $31 for children for main-floor premium seating

◆ (773) 445-3838;
beverlyartcenter.org

Nov. 14, 16 and 18

North Shore Center for the
Performing Arts in Skokie
,
9501 Skokie Blvd.

◆ Tickets, $16.50, $27.50, $37.50 or $42.50

◆ (847) 673-6300;
northshorecenter.org

For all locations:

(773) 227-0180;
chicagochildrenstheatre.org

Maps

Updated: November 20, 2012 10:41AM



Chicago Children’s Theatre is nomadic no longer.

The troupe kicked off its sixth season with “Harold and the Purple Crayon” in its new, permanent home, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago.

A staple in households with children since 1955, “Harold and the Purple Crayon” is Crockett Johnson’s simple tale of a 4-year-old boy with a large imagination.

Wielding his purple crayon, Harold uses his creativity and drawing skills to take himself on adventures to the moon, across the sea and on a hot-air balloon ride — among others.

It comes to life under the direction of Sean Graney, the Chicago Children’s Theatre artistic associate who also directed “The Hundred Dresses,” “Honus and Me” and “Hana’s Suitcase.”

Aimed at ages 3 and older, “Harold and the Purple Crayon” is part of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s mission to reach out to the youngest theatergoers and make theater a positive experience.

Familiarity with this childhood classic was behind the choice of “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” which also is a signature family production for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“There’s a lot of takes on this, and this is a completely different take on ‘Harold,’ ” Jacqueline Russell, Chicago Children’s Theatre’s artistic director, said of the selection.

“It’s a classic, and this [script] is just a different way to look at that piece. We also are really interested in continuing to draw really young audiences as we build our institution, so to speak.

“So I’m constantly looking for something that’s going to introduce that child to their first theater experience, and this just seemed like a perfect piece for that.”

Graney agreed that “Harold and the Purple Crayon” provides a good introduction to theater.

“It’s a wonderful story; it’s so simple,” he said. “It’s all based on visuals, visual cues and melodies rather than complicated storytelling.

“So I think the kids can really enjoy seeing these worlds, these big projections being made in front of them, and they can follow along and understand.

“And the songs are very catchy and the whole thing is relatively short [45 to 50 minutes].”

The show combines puppetry, projected animation and music “to create these worlds that Harold creates with his purple crayon in different ways,” Graney said.

“It’s like all these different levels of astonishment.”

Along with astonishment, Graney promised audience participation.

Ultimately, Graney said he hopes “Harold and the Purple Crayon” will inspire children “to use their imaginations more and also realize that theater is a great place to use your imagination.

“And I hope that they become theater audiences and theater appreciators for life. It’s a good experience.”

Having a home of its own allows Chicago Children’s Theatre to expand the theater experience a bit.

On Thursdays, the theater will offer Piece Pizza party nights that start at 5:30 p.m. ($20 covers show and pizza party).

On Fridays, starting Oct. 19, families can enjoy postshow pajama parties.

PJs are appropriate attire, and cast members will join the audience for craft activities led by Wishcraft Workshop ($25 covers the show and party).

Jennifer Burklow is a local freelance writer.



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