On a recent Saturday morning, my two daughters and
I found ourselves shouting, "fairy," "pickle," and "roar."
It was just another day at Storytown, the Saturday
morning children's improv show. It's been a Chicago tradition since
2009, but in March, Storytown moved to a new spot at Stage 773.
The new location is the perfect venue: It's got tons of
bathroom stalls to satisfy small bladders; a large-ish lobby which
offers enough room for tables to hold birthday cake (more on that
later); the stage is big enough to contain all the children but not
too big to overwhelm; and the theater is small enough that even in
the last row, you feel included in the improv scenes.
There are four stages at 773, so throughout the year,
Storytown will move around depending on the audience size and
the sets. More programming for the new venue is being considered as
The current show, however, hasn't changed. The children
are asked to suggest themes for the story that the improv actors
will sing, dance and act their way through during the 60-minute
play. There are also two artists who construct props and costumes
throughout the show to go along with it as the story takes its
twists and turns. And there's a fabulous pianist who also makes up
the music as he goes along.
It's a lot like a Second City show sans the dirty jokes.
There's the impromptu singing, the silly dancing and the scenes
that don't make much sense (on the day we visited, the show was
about a birthday fairyland specializing in pickles and dinosaur ice
cream . . . or something along those lines) but are still
We wished there had been just a little more interaction
with the children, however. Our favorite part of going to an improv
show is making scene suggestions, and while there were a few
requests for these at the beginning, they basically ceased once the
scene was set.
Our 4-year-old was also disappointed that she didn't get
to go on stage to act out a few improv scenes on her own, but given
that the show appeared to be nearly sold out with about 50 children
in the audience, limiting the amount of kid interaction may have
been a good move.
For $10 and no reservation necessarily needed, this is an
amazing deal in Chicago. All you need to do is roll out of bed (or,
let's be honest, be dragged out at 6 a.m. by a child demanding to
be entertained for the next 12 hours), and spend less than you
would at the movies to see a fun live show.
An even better deal is the birthday party, which is $8 per
child plus a $75 fee to reserve a spot in the lobby to set up a
table for BYO food and gifts. While it's not a private party
(unless, of course, you rent the entire theater), the birthday
child gets called to the stage for a birthday song and a special
acknowledgement of his day.
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.
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