Combine the thrill of high school football with the spectacle of a circus and you’ve got arena football. This indoor brand of football is perfect for two groups of football fans-those of us who can’t quite cope with the end of the National Football League season and those of us who can’t quite afford a family outing to Soldier Field for a big league game.
Chicago Rush, the home team of the Arena Football League, plays at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. The indoor setting makes for a close-up, cozy, yet exhilarating football experience. With no sidelines on the 50-year field, first-row fans can pat players on the back as they rush for yardage and most everyone can catch footballs missed by receivers and feel as though they’re a part of the game.
We watched the Rush beat the San Jose SaberCats 54-48 Sunday in overtime. The kids stayed engaged throughout. When there was a lull on the field, the Rush revved up the pep band, brought out the cheerleaders or tossed T-shirts and mini footballs into the stands. My kids were so into it that they insisted we stay nearly an hour after the game so they could collect all of the players’ autographs.
There are no bad seats. Even the cheaper end-zone offers a decent view, with the help of the giant screen television on the overhead scoreboard.
It’s also affordable. Tickets range from $10 to $35, although parking at Allstate Arena adds another $11 and food is pricey—we spent an unconscionable $12.50 for one hot dog, one order of nachos and one bottle of water. Yet, tickets for the 2006 Chicago Bears range from $60 to $95. The fun starts two hours before game time with “Family Fest,” a free pre-game party that includes live entertainment, free food and drink, balloon artists, face painters, brush-on tattoos, football-toss games and football video games. I didn’t know about the Family Fest, so we missed it. But the arena was filled with kids sporting balloon “helmets” who said it was fun (the video games were particularly popular with the 12-year-old boys). Cindy Richards The next home game is 11 a.m. Sunday, March 5, at the Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Manheim Rd., Rosemont. For more information, to purchase tickets and for a full schedule, call (877) RUSH.TIX (787-4849) or visit www.chicagorush.com.
Don’t go see it. There’s no point. No doubt, you’ll be as tempted as we were. You will read the list of wonderful actors providing the voices for the film and think: This must be good-Jon Stewart is in it, right? You will be as wrong as we were. There is no charm, no warmth in this film about animals lead by a candy-loving shaggy dog, saving the world from ice. The humor is all about the bathroom-“I just pooed my pants” or the reccurring farting moose. It’s not offensive. It’s just boring. The film was originally released as a British and French version, entitled, “The Magic Roundabout.” It was rewritten and redubbed with a cast of American actors that includes the evil wizard, Stewart; a good wizard, Ian McKellan; the cow, Whoopi Goldberg; the snail, William H. Macy; the narrator, Judi Dench; the rabbit, Jimmy Fallon; the moose, Kevin Smith, and the train, Chevy Chase. How could it go wrong? It barely ever goes right. All the children under age 6 at opening night giggled and said, “It’s great.” But we know little kids love everything. Anybody over 6, including my own kids, would give this movie an F. If you want to have a lovely family night out, this is not it. You can find better. Susy Schultz
“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”
Since the beginning of their season, I’ve wondered how the innovative Emerald City Theatre would turn a very short book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, into a full play. They did it with a high-concept Commedia del’ Arte interpretation. The oversized props, slapstick comedy and outrageous costumes work together to make for a lot of laughter during the one-hour show.
The trouble-making mouse and accommodating boy from the book are joined by a harlequin clown who moves the story forward by providing the cookie, milk, brooms and the large mess necessary to the story. The design includes a small puppet-size mouse manipulated by the boy as well as a live “mouse” brought to life by actress Cherie Evans. The show-within-the-show format was a bit confusing to my kids at first, but they were soon so immersed in the props and antics that they seemed to go with the flow.
There is a lot of physical comedy, executed with great timing by Paula Taylor as the Clown. While the kids in the audience were giggly and excited, I found the unstoppable prattling of the mouse a little grating for a Sunday morning. I missed the sing-song rhythm of Laura Joffe Numeroff’s book.
The cast takes audience interaction beyond just asking the audience questions. The Mouse literally climbs into the laps of audience members (even kids) and those of us in the front row were swept up in a giant broom. In the end, my boys didn’t care about the concept or the costumes, but sure thought that mouse was funny. Alena Murguia
“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” Apollo Theatre. Through April 2. Recommended ages 3-6. $12, $9 kids under 12. 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. For tickets and showtimes, call (773) 935-6100 or visit www.emeraldcitytheatre.com.