Ballerina bears, snowmen, rag dolls and poinsettias all come alive in the Rosemont Theatre's new production of the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" starring the Rockettes. You may have seen this show when it was in town before, but now it's back and better than ever, a "must-see" on your holiday list.
There are five new numbers in all, including the first. In the opening act, "Sleighride," the Rockettes are dressed as Santa's reindeer in cool brown velvet costumes and light up antlers. They bring Santa on the long journey from the North Pole to Chicago. "The 12 Days of Christmas" is a tap dancing extravaganza featuring only the Rockettes on stage, as they perform this act with amazing talent and coordination. The Rockettes dance with the beat of this popular Christmastime favorite and time their taps exactly with the words.
A wonderful song is sung by Mrs. Claus called "Everybody's Waitin' for the Man with the Bag," and another new number called "I'm There" answers the age old question of how Santa can be everywhere at once, even with his Black Berry. This act is spectacular because the Santas just keep appearing out of nowhere, and by the end of the song, all of the Rockettes and chorus members are dressed as Santa. It surprised many kids in the audience. "Christmas Dreams" was my favorite act because it welcomes the holidays with snow that falls directly onto the audience, and of course, a kick line-Rockette style.
And, what would a Radio City show be without classic scenes such as "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," "Christmas in New York" (although I did miss the ice skaters this year), "Santa's Workshop" and naturally, "The Living Nativity," complete with camels and sheep onstage.
I gave this show an A because I thought that it truly lived up to its name; spectacular. The show was full of marvelous dancing and music. My mom loved this production. She thought that it was a perfect family show to kick off the holiday season. It was full of energy and the incredible feeling that Christmas is in the air. My 9-year-old brother, Stephen, gave the show an A- because he thought that the Rockettes demonstrated a lot of talent. My 85-year-old grandma also gave the show an A because of the amazing costumes and outstanding choreography. Her favorite act was the "Living Nativity" because of the realistic costuming and story. She also enjoyed the Nutcracker, which is performed like you've never seen before. The kids will especially enjoy this one.
If the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" starring the Rockettes has always been a tradition in your family, be sure not to miss this year's production. And if it isn't, now is a good time to start to help make your holiday dreams come true. Allie Sakowicz, 12, Park Ridge
The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Christmas Spectacular runs through Dec. 2 at the Rosemont Theatre. Call their box office at (847) 671-5100 for dates, times and ticket information.
"Jack and the Beanstalk" Chicago Kids Company at the Beverly Arts Center
If you're wondering what to do with your preschoolers on a cold morning, take them to see "Jack and the Beanstalk" at the Beverly Arts Center. Chicago Kids Company has done another remarkable job of modernizing a classic fairy tale. No longer a somewhat frightening tale of a naughty boy barely escaping with his life, this version comes complete with fun, original music (composed by co-artistic director Paige Coffman) and colorful, multi-racial characters.
In fact, Carmelita the Cow (played with perfection by Marie Antoinette Flores) practically steals the show. Her bilingual rants, colorful costume and hilarious facial expressions had my boys giggling from the moment they saw her. Over and over again, my 5-year-old pointed out that, "She's funny." Not to be outdone, Matt Rudy stays on stage for the entire hour-long show, bringing Jack to life with boyish charm, innocence and enthusiasm. When faced with the reality of his family's poverty, he bemoans the lack of ice cream, toys and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. The fact that my sons felt bad for him is a testament to the writer (Jesus Perez) and actor.
The original musical numbers, composed by Paige Coffman, are always a highlight of Chicago Kids Company shows and this is no exception. From the opening song "You Better Listen to Your Mama," the audience was clapping and singing along. It's obvious that this theater considers its audience when writing a show. My young sons loved helping the Giant count his gold, singing their numbers one through 10. It helped that Jeffrey Bouthiette plays the Giant with a silliness that keeps him from being scary.
All four of the show's actors give their all to the characters and action of the plot, running through the audience, asking for the kids' participation and keeping us engaged throughout. It can't be easy to hold the attention of hundreds of preschoolers, but the cast of "Jack and the Beanstalk" does it well. Alena Murguia
Runs through Nov. 22nd. Weekdays at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago. Single tickets $8, group rates are available. (773) 205-9600. www.chicagokidscompany.com
"Dora's World Adventure"
That's 4-year-old Zoe's summary of the new hour-long primetime special featuring the world's most unsupervised 7-year-old, Dora the Explorer, as she travels the world to save Friendship Day.
"Dora's World Adventure" takes Dora and her enthusiastic preschool viewers to France, Tanzania, Russia and China to return the friendship bracelets swiped by that naughty Swiper. They must return them before time runs out in order for the children around the world to celebrate Friendship Day and form a rainbow with the glow from the bracelets. Highlights of the trip to each country include teaching kids how to say hello in that country's native language, plus teaching some distinguished landmarks of that country, such as the Winter Palace in Russia, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Children at home help Dora and Swiper navigate the map and make decisions on which paths to take to reach their destination.
Zoe, a huge Dora fan already, especially liked practicing the Spanish words Dora teaches and saying hello in other languages. Parents will enjoy watching their preschoolers shout out answers, catching their enthusiasm for learning about other countries and seeing them out of their seats singing and dancing. Be prepared for lots of questions about going to other countries since Dora's trips take less than a minute each. Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy
"Dora's World Adventure," a new hour-long primetime special, will air 7 - 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon. Check out Nick Jr.'s Web site, www.nickjr.com, for an interactive game, "Dora's World Adventure," that allows kids to be Dora or Swiper as they collect friendship bracelets. The site includes other activities and printable activities.