The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts is alive this weekend with smartly dressed dolls and their wide-eyes owners, come to see a delightful and motivational two-act musical celebrating American Girl dolls and the perseverance and spirit of the girls who own them.
The show takes place at “Camp American Girl” where an enthusiastic counselor, four camp regulars and one shy newcomer vie for medallions celebrating girl power and social virtues like teamwork, leadership, and bravery. Once all the medallions are collected, they can go on an overnight camping trip deep in the woods, where thunderstorms and twisting paths test their mettle. The girls all bring their American Girl dolls along, of course, and when things get darkest, the dolls—designed to celebrate world cultures, STEM skills, the civil rights era, the performing arts and more—lend inspiration and advice.
There’s belting galore as the powerhouse young actresses in the cast get the audience cheering and clapping along through an evening’s worth of catchy tunes about positivity, self-reliance, and cooperation. The six actresses rarely leave the stage as the woods swirl around them, but their voices never falter, and all six win the audience over whether playing their camper girls or portraying one another’s dolls sprung to life.
It’s worth mentioning that the show has an all-female creative team, including a script and lyrics by Glenview native Sandy Rustin, produced by Steppenwolf Theatre veteran Simone Gianfrancesco.
“Director Gina Rattan and I both felt strongly from the get-go that this show needed to have an all-female creative team, both to honor the values of the brand as well as to present a strong message that every girl is the hero of her own story!” says Gianfrancesco. “Who better to bring this message to life than a passionate group of women, aiming to inspire the next generation of creative thought leaders?”Bring your American Girl doll along, of course, as they’re welcome in the theater and lend the entire affair a whimsical and communal feel.
If you go
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
Only two shows remaining: Dec. 22 (7 p.m.) and Dec. 23 (1 p.m.)
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