The Chicago Children’s Theatre’s production of “Harold and the Purple Crayon” is chock full of delight, wonder and charm.
Inspired by the Crockett Johnson’s classic of the same name, the play tells the story of Harold, a creative and curious toddler who creates his own adventure with the help of his trusty crayon. It’s a simple, yet powerful tribute to the wonders of childhood when all you need is a crayon and your imagination.
Directed by Sean Grady (who, in recent years was named Best Avant-Garde Director by “Chicago Magazine”) the production is part theatre and part visual feast as song, dance, video and puppets transform the theatre into Harold’s ever-changing world. The rest of the cast and crew are equally as talented with music direction by Nick Davio, scenic design by Geoffrey Curley and animation and video design by Liviu Pasare.
Nate Lewellyn is lovely as Harold. His dulcet voice and sweet demeanor bring the iconic character to life, while Alex Goodrich and Bethany Thomas show great range as the “storytellers” who morph into supporting characters at a moment’s notice. Together the trio takes the audience on a fun-filled adventure filled with catchy tunes and silly, slapstick humor. In fact, I was struck by how much the young audience laughed and squealed with delight throughout the entire performance.
The production is designed for young theatregoers, with the sweet spot being in the 3-7 year old range. Be sure to arrive at the theatre early to enjoy one of the many value-added activities, including doodling on the walls with purple crayon and Thursday evening pre-show pizza parties. Friday nights are equally as special as audience members are invited to wear their PJs and enjoy milk, cookies and crafts following the performance.
“Harold and the Purple Crayon” runs through November 4 at the CCT’s new permanent home, the Ruth Page Center for Performing Arts. It will also make a brief stop to the North Shore Center for Performing Arts in Skokie on November 14-18. Visit the Chicago Children’s Theatre for information about tickets, special events and show times.