My family was given five tickets to see Emerald City Theatre’s Magic Tree House: Showtime With Shakespeare at the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park in exchange for posting a review of the show. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
We had the extreme pleasure of attending Emerald City Theatre’s opening performance of Magic Tree House: Showtime with Shakespeare “A Musical Adventure on a Midsummer’s Night!” Not only was it the show’s opening at Emerald City, it was also the play’s premiere for the entire Midwest, AND Micah’s first trip to the theater.
What an exciting first experience it was!
Based on Mary Pope Osborne’s popular Magic Tree House book series, Showtime with Shakespeare transports Jack and Annie back to Shakespearean England where they save “Will’s” famed show by learning how to overcome their own stage fright. This magical, musical, dance-filled adventure is not one we will soon forget!
Music and Choreography
Showtime with Shakespeare is a hip-hop musical and as such it was filled with amazing songs and beautifully choreographed dances. As a musician and vocalist myself, it was apparent that the music was complex, but you’d never be able to tell from the cast’s performance. Their harmonies were tight and spot on.
Dance after dance, I was continually amazed at the creativity of the choreography and the stamina of the cast. It was entertaining and beautiful to watch – their movement opening up the stage of the Apollo beyond it’s physical borders. My seven-year-old even exclaimed in the middle of the performance that this was the best dancing he had ever seen!
This is definitely not your average children’s musical theater performance! I wish they had CDs available of the show’s music for purchase. I think they would have sold well!
I love that this was a really smart show. EVERY line of dialogue was rhymed – not just the songs – and though I can’t be entirely sure, I want to believe it was written in iambic pentameter (wouldn’t that be incredibly poetic?!). This had to be an exceptionally difficult task for scriptwriters, but it flowed naturally and presented beautifully.
While the show was as entertaining for my two-year-old as it was for my husband and I, I felt like it raised the bar of critical listening and thinking for my seven and nine-year-olds. They really had to pay attention. They were exposed to quality music and dance, and they were exposed to the flavor of Shakespeare. As a home educator I was very pleased!
There were several really good messages for kids woven throughout the story. We spent a lot of our ride home going over many of these with our boys.
- It takes determination and the support of your friends/family to overcome your fears.
- Don’t quit before you try something.
- Show kindness and help others no matter what it might cost you.
- Do what you’ve been put on this earth to do – sing, dance, create, make, etc.
- Sometimes confidence grows out of obedience.
- Listen to wisdom, learn, and grow.
- Your life is a miracle. Let your light shine.
Can you believe this was all packed into 60 minutes? Showtime with Shakespeare was such an incredible experience for our family – we are so grateful for all the hard work and talent that was shared with us through this show!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
90% of the show is based on Jack and Annie’s adventure in Shakespearean England with very little devoted to “the play within the play” as my oldest referred to it, but the recap of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a little confusing.
During the recap, many of the actors/actresses played parts of the opposite gender. Earlier in the show they explained that it was against the law for women to perform onstage in England at that time in history. With a cast of only 10, I totally understand they were unable to have the women completely sit out, but I wish the treatment of Shakespeare’s work would have been more straightforward. I think I would have spent much less time wondering what was going on at that point in the show if everyone remained playing parts of their gender (even if that was not completely historical).
Most of this went completely over my kids heads, but like me, they didn’t understand the recap either. If you’re interested in teaching your kids about A Midsummer Night’s Dream take time before or after the show to expand on it with them.
Talk to your kids
Use this experience to talk with your kids about what they’ve seen, heard, and learned. This is one of the most enriching parts of going to the theater, and especially for a show as rich as this one, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to unpack their thoughts and observations with them.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember everything after a show is over. Use the program to take some notes about questions or conversation points you’d like to discuss with them when you’re on your way home after the performance. This is a really superb way to solidify the experience in their minds and build relationships as a family.
Buy the book
Read it ahead of time with your kids and then bring it with you to the show for autographs. We’ve made this a tradition with our boys whenever we go see a show. Not only does it extend the experience before and after the performance, but it becomes a really precious keepsake of our time together.
Emerald City is on TOP of this and makes books available for purchase before and after the show, and as always, the cast is so kind and gracious to pose for pictures, sign autographs, and chat with the kids. LOVE THIS!
Emerald City suggests this show is for ages 5+ but that doesn’t mean kids older or younger won’t enjoy it as well. Everyone is welcome at this performance. My two-year-old LOVED the dancing and music, and my nine-year-old was attentive and engaged the whole time. This really is a great family show that appeals to a variety of ages.
Show Run and Ticket Info
Magic Tree House: Showtime With Shakespeare
“A Musical Adventure on a Midsummer’s Night!”
January 27-February 25, 2018
At the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park
Book and Lyrics by Jenny Laird and Will Osborne | Music and Lyrics by Randy Courts
Based on Stage Fright on a Summer Night MAGIC TREE HOUSE #25 by Mary Pope Osborne
Directed and Choreographed by Emerald City Theatre Artistic Associate Jamal Howard
For Ages 5+
Tickets start at $19 and are available online or through the Apollo Theater box office at 773-935-6100. Groups of 10 or more receive discounts ranging from 15-25%. Field trips for the 2017-2018 Student Matinee season are available for $9 per ticket. For more information visit emeraldcitytheatre.com.
The Apollo Theater is located at 2540 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Click HERE for box office hours and info, parking options, and directions.