“Lizards and the Komodo King” The lizards visiting the Shedd Aquarium are so cool—and that’s before you meet Faust, the crocodile-sized Komodo dragon that is the climax of the new, temporary exhibit that opens Saturday.
This exhibit isn’t perfect. My 12-year-old son thought it needed more interactive features since most of the lizards were doing nothing more than blending into their surroundings. I thought it needed a few steps or stools to help younger, shorter kids get to eye level with these amazing creatures. But, overall, it’s a great effort that’s worth a trip downtown.
Don’t miss the yellow-spotted crocodile monitor (the longest lizard) or the giant day gecko with the orange-tipped tail (proof that his tail somehow broke off and is growing back) or the interactive station that demonstrates the bark of the tokay gecko. And bring your cameras for a photo of the kids posing inside the mouth of the giant, inflatable Komodo dragon at the entrance to the Shedd. Cindy Richards
”Lizards and the Komodo King” opens April 8 at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago. Free with all-access pass ($12-$23). (312) 939-2426, www.sheddaquarium.org.
“Goldilocks and the Three Bears”
For the past 14 years, Chicago Kids Company has earned a reputation for turning the classic fairy tale on its ear, which is just what they’ve done with the fantastic production of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Within minutes of the curtain rising, the three bears have audience members clapping, dancing and even rapping along to the original music. By the time Goldilocks (Amber McGuire) makes her appearance, the audience is keyed up and ready for anything. Good thing too, because that’s when the cast really needs our help--which means more dancing, some innocent trickery, lots of clapping and clearing pathways for bears on the run.
Chicago Kids Company has perfected a style which works for a variety of ages. The company wants little kids and recommends their shows for toddlers as young as 2. To make this work, they never ask kids to sit still and watch. The actors involve us, keeping kids actively engaged in the plot. On the other hand, they have enough humor, modern music and choreography to appeal to older kids, even adults.
“Goldilocks” was written and staged by Jesus Perez, who has managed to find a bright and interesting new take on the story. He has kept the classic lines (shouted by kids in the audience) concerning, “too hard,” “too soft” and “just right,” but has created a story about first appearances and friendship. As my 5-year-old son remarked at the end of the show, “It’s just like the book, but more exciting.”
The music, composed by Paige Coffman, keeps the show moving at a brisk pace. The songs fit the characters perfectly, from the energetic springtime rap led by Baby Bear (Linda Rosenthal) to the show-stopping “Psychedelic Dress” number, performed with great comedic timing by Goldilocks’ mother, Wynona (Lauren Creel). Don’t expect any sweet soft solos in this hour-long production. The music and action are rollicking from beginning to end. Alena Murguia
“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” runs through June 2, 2006. Showtimes are 10:30 a.m. weekdays. 12:30 p.m. Saturdays on April 15 and May 13 and 27 at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago. $8. Reservations are recommended. (773) 205-9600, www.ChicagoKidsCompany.com
“Ice Age: The Meltdown”
They’re all back—Manny, the depressed mammoth, Sid the silly sloth, Diego the dry-witted saber tooth tiger, even Scrat, the sorry squirrel that just can’t keep his hands on the acorn—and we’re all the better for it.
“Ice Age: The Meltdown,” the sequel to the wonderful “Ice Age” is the rarest of all movies: a sequel that is as good (my opinion) or better (my kids’ opinion) than the original.
Yes, the premise is a bit silly: The ice age is ending so fast that the characters we met just a few years ago are now splashing in a water park made by Mother Nature and figuring out how to survive in this new, warmer world. But the great banter and funny situations make it easy to suspend disbelief.
In this movie, our pack of misfits that formed a family in the first movie are joined by Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), the mammoth who thinks she’s a possum, and her two feisty possum brothers, Crash and Eddie. It’s the perfect pairing for Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), who had been worrying that maybe he was on the verge of extinction. If only he can convince Ellie that she is a mammoth, not a possum….
Once again, though, Scrat steals the show with his futile attempts to get his hands on that elusive acorn, melting glacier or no melting glacier.
Despite its PG rating (for some mild language and innuendo), this is a terrific family movie that works for kids of all ages. Cindy Richards
“Ice Age: The Meltdown,” rated PG, opened on March 31.