Make Time to See This Summer “Beauty”

Any north suburban parent sending their kid to grade school this August not having seen Marriott Theatre’s “Sleeping Beauty” best be prepared for the inevitable tears accompanying that left-out feeling.

Just sayin’.

Director/choreographer Matt Raftery is staging his next young audiences gem on the daytime Lincolnshire stage, following its successful run of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” This is no sleeper; it’s all beauty.

First credit goes to Marc Robin’s book. His musical retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale is lovely and fanciful. What’s best, even Robin’s villainess provides vengeful antagonism without being too scary for the youngest among the crowd. His delightful score combines with the telling to make this production, truly, all-ages-appropriate.

Outside of the requisite finger-prick-on-a-spinning-wheel curse, this is not Uncle Walt’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Robin’s Kingdom of Colorland features neurotic fairies, whose outcast relative Magenta (stately Cathy Lord) places the curse on beautiful Princess Amber (stunning Naomi Smart). Too bad for Amber her Prince Hunter (hysterical Alex Goodrich) needs to overcome his fear-based allergies while scaling mountains, sailing the dark sea and battling a dragon trying to save her.

But not for the audience. It’s all funny and delightful, featuring fabulous costuming by Nancy Missimi and a truly stunning 3-person dragon puppet as professional as would be found on any primetime stage.

That’s what makes Marriott’s Theatre for Young Audiences a treasure of the northern suburbs. The only things “less” about these productions compared to the theater’s award-winning primetime offerings are total time (typically an hour instead of two) and ticket cost ($15 per person instead of $40 to $48).

Yes, the fourth wall is sometimes opened to invite children into the magic of live theater. And a post-show Q and A with the actors features typically the same Qs and As every time. But the talent, staging and musicianship is equal to nighttime Marriott offerings. Indeed, much of the “Sleeping Beauty” cast is doing double-duty in the main stage performances of “HERO the Musical.” A review of that not-to-be-missed world premiere is found here.

All said, parents owe it to their kids to expose them to the arts, and Marriott provides the top-notch venue to do that affordably. Raftery’s “Sleeping Beauty” only enhances this stellar reputation.

For kids looking to leap onstage themselves, fall opportunities to do that are found here. But in the meantime, make sure they see this beauty of a show. No doubt their friends will.

Performances of “Sleeping Beauty” at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, run Wednesday through Saturdays at 10 a.m., through August 18. Tickets are $15 per person with discounts available for groups of 15 or more. Tickets may be purchased by phone or in person at the Marriott Theatre Box Office or online at Ticketmaster.com. Group tickets are available by calling the group sales department at 847-634-7030. Parking is free. More information is available here or by calling 847-634-0200.