Grow a love of the arts in ‘Mother Goose’s Garden’


By Keely Flynn

Member of the Chicago Parent Blog Network
If you go

Runs through August 27, 2017

Artistic Director Jacqueline Stone knows a thing or two about what makes productions for children terrific. Emerald City Theatre has become synonymous with smart, sharp and fun theater; their Little Theatre, however, takes the game to even greater (and somehow tinier) heights. Past productions for babies and preschoolers have included the adorable “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” and “Bingo’s Birthday,” and 2017’s offering of “Mother Goose’s Garden,” directed by Stone, is no less charming or inspiring for an entirely new set of theatergoers.


As with Emerald City’s other shows for the very young, this introduction to theater is intended to be just that; gentle, inclusive and with nary a wrong answer in sight. Need to chill out in the lobby for a few before rejoining the fun? Zero judgements. Have a desire to ask a question mid-show? Have at it! (Jack and Jill, portrayed by Austin Ryan Hunt and Michele Stine, must have improv backgrounds somewhere in there alongside their teaching creds, what with their extremely patient and cheerful responses to the blurted concerns and personal tales of the audience.)


From the moment the world of Mother Goose’s Garden is entered, guests tiny and tall alike are welcomed by Brian Elston’s cozy and scenic spots to snuggle up as well as with the downright gorgeous lighting of designer Keith Parham. (If your offspring really want an intro into the Chicago theater scene, any show lit by Parham pretty much guarantees they’ve seen the best of the best.)


As for the drama? Thankfully, there’s very little gripping action here, aside from the curious question of, “Why isn’t Mother Goose in her garden?” (Spoiler: They find her, with the audience’s help, of course.) A series of rather cool- and highly functional- set pieces invite tiny hands to pick berries and help the flowers grow, adding to all that immersive fun. Jack and Jill are wonderful tour guides in the garden and they, alongside a variety of literary favorites (all sweetly portrayed by Stine and Hunt), ensure an easy experience for all.


And what tale would be complete without a life lesson or two? This one’s overarching themes are kindness, working together and— timely enough for my five- and three year-olds in the attending audience— sibling- ahem- competitiveness was addressed. (My kids sang the song about taking turns and sharing on the drive home; take that, Daniel Tiger.)


Mother Goose’s Garden is geared at ages 0-5, and yes, the infants will find it stimulating, and yes, the preschoolers will find it superbly fun. Their parents’ hearts will swell with the knowledge that they’re raising culturally fantastic children who’ll learn to love and respect the arts, and the whole family will be supporting a company who consistently gives back to the Chicago community.


All that from one garden? Must be some magic beans in there somewhere.

If you go

Runs through August 27, 2017


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