Chicago Kids Company continues to kick it up a notch with their current production, "Little Red Riding Hood." With a bright musical opening culminating in a mini chorus line, the audience knows it’s in for a raucous interpretation of this classic tale. Little Red (Lauren Wolf) is no sweet innocent. From the start, she cajoles, shrieks and plays tricks to amuse herself.
Once she receives the fantastic riding hood in the mail, her quest to visit grandma begins. Reluctant to send her daughter off into the woods alone, Mama sings, "Don’t stray from the path." The song is repeated throughout the show by members of the cast and audience, a clever and fun way to impart the story’s central lesson. What’s really funny is that despite Red singing the song along with her mom, even the youngest audience members understand she’s bound to break those rules.
When the inevitable wolf makes his arrival, the children in the audience are in for a real treat. The fantastic Matt Rudy turns a potentially frightening character into a wily, wise-cracking "bad guy," complete with references to three annoying pigs. Although he had already played several roles in the show, my sons were mesmerized by his "funny guy" performance.
If you think you know the rest of the story, you might be surprised to discover Snow White and Dorothy in the woods. And did you remember Grandma as a cabbage patching club dancer? These story innovations, clever musical numbers and talented actors are further proof that there are no limits to the creative talents at Chicago Kids Company.
"Little Red Riding Hood" continues at the Chicago Center for Performing Arts through May 31. In June, look for the show to move to St. Patrick Performing Arts Center. Visit www.ChicagoKidsCompany.com or call (773) 205-9600 for a complete production schedule.