I have a confession to make. When I first heard about Chicago
Children's Theatre's new production for babies and toddlers, I
I spend a lot of time with my 17-month-old nephew, Aidan, and if
he's taught me one thing, it's that the under-four set never sits
So I figured Aidan, with all his toddler energy, would be the
perfect person to try out "Dot & Ziggy," the interactive show
at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater (along with his mom, of
My conclusion? For all my skepticism, the production is a little
The folks at Chicago Children's Theatre - and their colleagues
at Seattle Children's Theatre, who created the show - certainly
know their audience. From the pied-piper-style entrance to the
space where the show is staged to the brightly colored carpets that
designate the seating space, kids are top of mind.
The show itself, a charming story of a ladybug, Dot (Roni Geva),
and a skunk, Ziggy (Don Darryl Rivera), who learn to be friends,
plays like a live-action television show. The plot is simple and
emphasizes elements being taught at home - shapes, opposites, parts
of the body - through repetition and interaction.
Mom and dad will also be happy to note that sharing is a major
theme of the show, perfect for little ones just starting to grasp
The interaction includes things like clapping, exploring basic
movements and singing along to favorite songs like "The Itsy-Bitsy
Spider" and "The Hokey Pokey," as well as at least one original
song. Adults will recognize the motifs of "The Blue Danube" and
other classical favorites, played live on an upright piano.
And when CCT says that little ones can cry, jump around or
explore the performance space, they're telling the truth. Although
there's an on-floor seating area, little wanderers invade the
action without fuss - although more than one mom intercepted her
child before too much time passed.
The recommended age range for the show is right on-target,
although the 45-minute running time feels a bit long for the
youngest kids to stay attentive. An older preschool-aged boy seemed
bored out of his mind - and bolted as soon as the show was
The theater provides "stroller parking" on the ground floor,
where child-sized tables invite pre-show coloring. Kids will also
enjoy spotting the ladybug and skunk hats many of the staff members
Logistically, the audience is required to climb two flights of
stairs to reach the performance space. They also request that
diaper bags and larger packages be left under the watchful eye of
staffers. Food and drink aren't allowed in the performance space,
although an exception is made for bottles.
Tickets are $16, $18 on weekends and include discounts and
offers at nearby family-friendly partner restaurants.
As for my little critic, the always-moving Aidan sat transfixed
by all the activity, but ventured off Mommy's lap before long. By
the time bubbles made their appearance, he was sold. And after the
show, the normally shy boy even ventured to see Dot and Ziggy and
their ladybug and skunk puppets a little more
up-close-and-personal. He's not much of a talker (that we can
understand, at least), but I did get the impression that he had a
And his aunt stands corrected. It seems that at Chicago
Children's Theatre, you're never too young for a play.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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