What would happen if you threw a birthday party and the guest of honor didn’t show up?
If you go
Emerald City Theatre Company
2540 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, Ill. 60614
(773) 935-6100 (box office)
That’s the question that Emerald City Theatre explores in its new play for kids under 5, the adorable Bingo’s Birthday.
The very basic plot of the show is that Farmers Pickle and Tickle (a game Alissa Sherwood and George Booker) are throwing their dog, Bingo, a birthday party, but he has gone missing. The audience helps the farmers get ready for the party by setting up decorations, baking a cake and hunting for the missing puppy. Along the way, they sing the well-known “Bingo” song, complete with claps in place of letters, and meet other residents of the farm, such as Henrietta the Chicken and Clementine the Sheep. If you have a birthday approaching in your family, the play is the perfect way to prepare little ones for what to expect.
Bingo’s Birthday follows in the footsteps of Emerald City’s first Play With Me Play, the popular Teddy Bears’ Picnic. It’s very similar in its use of props to involve kids in the action, exaggerated characterizations (Southerners may cringe at the drawls demonstrated by the farmers!), repetition of key themes (adults will notice an emphasis on opposites), and easy-to-follow dialogue. The new show is accepting of the fact that little ones wander and babble and get distracted, and the actors are clearly trained to go with the flow, as demonstrated by their response when a toddler staked her claim to a prop in the middle of the play.
At just 45 minutes long, Bingo’s Birthday is aimed at kids 0-4. My nephew who is approaching his fifth birthday clearly was the oldest one there, and probably a bit too mature for some of the puppet antics. But his younger brother, two-and-a-half, watched and participated eagerly, even hugging Clementine at the end of the show.
If you can, arrive a little early to allow kids some time to play in the lobby (the farm-themed toys perfectly prepare them) and meet Bingo and Farmer Tickle before the play officially begins. Also remember that the Little Theatre is a shoe-free facility, so be sure to bring along socks, or you’ll have to wear some funny looking booties over your cute fall boots.
And for the sake of your own sanity, find some music to play in the car later, or you just might be singing “Bingo was his name-o” all the way home.