September 21, 2006



We laughed, she cried, it was a wonderful night at the theater.

My 9-year-old Sofie and I went to the LaSalle Bank Theatre's production of "Annie" last night. I went into the theater a bit leery about having to listen to "The sun will come out tomorrow" over and over again. Sofie was so excited about the whole theater experience that her enthusiasm easily changed my attitude.

We completely enjoyed the production. The acting was terrific, the little girls are extremely cute and yes, of course, the music has stayed with me. I found myself happily singing "It's a hard-knock life" to my kids this morning while I was making lunches and trying to get us all out the door on time.

Sofie was most impressed by Sandy the dog. She could not stop talking about how Sandy, played by Lola, was so well trained. After the show, we spent some time going through the playbill and noticed that even Sandy has two understudies (Buster and Mikey).

Sofie also wanted to know as much as possible about all the girls in the show. We read their bios and were interested to learn that many of them started acting at age three. A couple of them even have their own Web sites and we plan to check those out tonight, after school.

My favorite character was Miss Hannigan, played by nine-time Joseph Jefferson Award recipient, Arlene Robertson. I found myself laughing at almost every move that woman made. When she started dancing to "Easy Street," well, you have to see her strut. She wasn't just acting, she was feeling it. 

On the way home, Sofie admitted to crying about the possibility of Annie having to leave Mr. Warbucks. She said, "I knew they would figure out the truth. I was hoping they would figure out the truth. I… I… I just wanted Annie to be happy. Oh, and I knew the Christmas present would be Sandy." Sandi Pedersen

"Annie." Through Oct. 1. LaSalle Bank Theatre (formerly Shubert Theatre), 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago. Call or check Web site for showtimes. (312) 977-1710. Families. Tickets are $20-$72.

 Interactive art

DuPage Children's Museum lets kids play with art You won't hear anyone say, "Don't touch the artwork" at the DuPage Children's Museum. In fact, their new exhibit "Animals in Artland: Wild Wings" encourages kids to touch, push, trace and rub all kinds of art.

From the moment we stepped off the elevator on the second floor, my sons were mesmerized by the giant "Ornithopter" which flapped its wings whenever someone triggered its motion sensor. But that was just the beginning.

For a relatively small exhibit, the designers have provided endless opportunities to learn and explore. The kinetic sculptures gave my boys the chance to pump and crank different handles to make the artwork "fly." Being 4 and 5 years old, they thought making artwork move was the "coolest."

The museum's designers have also wisely provided "Can You Find It?" booklets to help kids explore on different levels, from finding individual colors to matching small portions of artwork. The books encouraged us to move around the exhibit to find its hidden secrets.

Anchoring the space is a giant wooden tree house that kids can climb into. At the top level they find binoculars they can use to spot many beautifully sculpted birds hanging high throughout the room. The "tree" was also filled with birds that sounded calls when squeezed.

My 4-year-old climbed and played happily for twenty minutes just in this space. Meanwhile my older son was fascinated with the light table, where he could combine parts from different animals to create his own creature. Inspired by the picture of a "Rhinomingo" he made his own "Elebear."

In addition to interacting with the works of professional artists, my sons happily made their own art. They loved using the foam, plastic and wooden shapes to make their own birds and designing their own crayon rubbings.

As usual at the DuPage Children's Museum, staff and volunteers were everywhere to help kids make the most of their experience. Alena Murguia

DuPage Children's Museum is located at 301 N. Washington St. in Naperville. General admission in $7.50 per person, $6.50 for ages 60 and over. Visit or call (630) 637-8000 for more information.

Kids Eat Chicago

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