‘Eleanor’ is toe-tapping holiday delight

A set full of gift-wrapped boxes with bows bigger than an elf’s head welcomes the audience to the newest performance treat of the holiday season. 

Songs you’ll hum long after the curtain closes and a cast kids will fall in love with all make “Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish” a must on the pre-holiday list. The 65-minute run time means your family can enjoy the downtime during the hustle and bustle of the season, and the bright story will keep your spirits up.

“Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish” makes its debut at Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater in Lincoln Square, and is based on the 2015 book of the same name by Chicago author and the play’s writer, Denise McGowan Tracy. “Eleanor” tells the story of a rag doll who lives at the North Pole and loves Christmas. (Surrounded by elves, Santa and cookies, who wouldn’t want every day to be the holidays?) But Eleanor harbors a secret wish for a best friend, a kid to call her own. 

So Eleanor, a traditional doll with a traditional name, follows what she’s been taught to do with wishes: she writes a letter to Santa. 

The fun music by composer Kathleen Gibson would keep even Scrooge’s toe tapping and is designed to delight young audiences. The soundtrack is one busy parents wouldn’t hate to put on repeat in the car, while reliving the delightful story. 

Samantha Bonzi is fun as Eleanor, and exudes the kind of personality you wish for in your best friend doll. The elves sing some of your favorite songs, keep the story hopping along and keep kids’ believing in the magic of the holidays.

Youngest fans will also enjoy the interactivity – some pre-performance fun and games from North Pole-sent elves is evidence that this cast knows its audience – and the chance for a post-show meet-and-greet with Santa, Eleanor and Mrs. (Cookie) Claus helps maintain high Christmas spirits. 

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish

Where: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Best for: Ages 2-8

When: Wednesdays & weekends through Dec. 29

Cost: $29.50 with family four-packs for $100

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