Children’s Play Review: The Selfish Giant at The Chicago Children’s Theatre

Review originally posted on

Based on a short story from Oscar Wilde, The Selfish Giant – the latest production from Chicago Children’s Theatre – features music by Chicago folk legend Michael Smith and production by Blair Thomas & Company.

The show, which runs a short and sweet 50 minutes, tells the story of a grumpy giant who restricts children from playing in his garden. He locks the children out and winter descends on the garden for eternity. Winter continues until a hole is found through a wall around the giant’s garden and the kids sneak back in. You can guess the rest.

The songs describing the plot are downright funny, enough to get full belly laughs from the audience. The puppets, created specifically for this performance, carry expressiveness and whimsy. (The humorous music and lyrics make an otherwise gruff giant less stern looking.)

Speaking of the puppets, the puppeteer, Sam Deutsch, does a masterful job of orchestrating solo through a variety of set and puppet changes.

I took my two sons, ages eight and five, to see the show on opening night, and the performance is suitable for kids in this age range. My eldest son, mesmerized by the engineering of how the puppets work, had this to say about the play:

“The Selfish Giant is a very fun play to watch. The artwork is outstanding. It is amazing to see how the puppets work on stage. The background music fits right into the play, with no speaking.”

The performance runs through Feb, 22, 2015 at the Ruth Page Center for Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street.


3 Things to Do Before Summer’s End

I can’t believe it’s August. It just seems like yesterday I wrote my last blog post talking about how summer break was off to an auspicious start. And now! It’s almost over. Isn’t that how it always goes?

Lucky for you, there is still time left to pack in all my favorite summer activities so far. Herewith, my favorite things to do before summer ends.

1) Sailing on Lake Michigan with Chicago Sailing

I cannot say enough good things about the sailing trip we were offered by Chicago Sail — a sailboat rental, charter, and lesson facility that runs out of Belmont Harbor. I never even knew the outfit existed, and only minutes from my house. We all had a blast with our captain Ben, and he showed us the ropes, literally of how to sail our sturdy Hunter 32 boat. Chicago Sailing has many ways to enjoy the city views from the water with lessons, (kids’ lessons, too… that’s next summer), charters, private instruction, certification and a guarantee of fun! A snapshot of our experience:


2) Canoeing on the North Branch from the WMS Boathouse

I’ve already spilled the beans on this one on Facebook and no less than 5 friends have already tried it out. It’s THAT fun. That’s right, canoeing on the North Branch of the Chicago River. I can’t recommend actually touching the water, but I can recommend cruising along with your family or friends for a relaxing, entertaining and nature-dense ride. Just in one afternoon we saw an otter (scared me), turtles, a heron, a kingfisher and myriad ducks and geese. I can canoe, can you?


3) Water Taxiing

Every summer (see how these all have to do with water?) I try to take my kids on the most cost-effective entertainment in the city: the $2 water taxi rides from downtown. You can cruise, for almost pennies, downtown on the river and hop on and off as you please. Some of my friends have had the brilliant idea to take the taxi all the way to Chinatown to eat. I’ll have to try that next time.

What is on your summer list? Maybe I will have time to try it next summer…