If there’s only one show you bring your kids to this season, make it Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new production “Bud, Not Buddy.”
The play, based on the Newberry Award-winning book, follows a charismatic 10-year-old orphan (Bud) as he embarks on a journey to find his father in depression-era Michigan. Using clues his late mother left behind, Bud discovers a community of jazz musicians who give him the one thing he yearns for the most, a sense of home. The play juxtaposes Bud’s savvy wit and humor against a backdrop of grey realities that include subpar foster care, cardboard cities and the Dustbowl of the 1930s.
Travis Turner charms as Bud, an engaging young boy who is both wise beyond his years, yet still sweetly idealistic. Cedric Young plays “curmudgeon” to perfection as jazz musician Herman Calloway. The other actors in the ensemble cast are all excellent, portraying a range of characters Bud meets along the way.
The Christopher Paul Curtis novel is adapted for stage by Reginald Andre Jackson, who won the American Alliance of Theatre and Education’s Distinguished Play Award for his adaptation. The play is directed by Derrick Sanders, who returns to CCT after directing 2011’s critically acclaimed “Jackie and Me” production. Recommended for children 8 and older, “Bud, Not Buddy” hits all the right notes while offering a snapshot of life during the 1930s.
“Bud, Not Buddy” runs through February 24 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 North Dearborn St. in Chicago. For tickets, visit the Chicago Children’s Theatre website call the box office at 872-222-9555. Be sure to ask about their pre-show jazz concerts and pizza parties.