Emerald City’s ‘Diary’ spins a web of sweetness

Parents of littles: word on the street is that insects are in (and under and around) this season! The latest–and easily most cheerable–iteration of this naturalistic theme is Emerald City’s winning “Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly.”

If you go

Runs through Jan. 7, 2017

Apollo Theater

2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago



Based on the best-selling book series by Doreen Cronin, the “creepy-crawly musical comedy” explores the life cycles of familiar bugs–and familiar scenes in classrooms all around the country. Best friends Fly, Spider and Worm (Deanalis Resto, Shaun Baer and Christian Edward Cook, respectively) spend a school year journaling in their private diaries about what the future might hold- from potential homework to future career plans. Worm, in particular, worries about his lack of interesting factoids; how can he be as cool as his pals if he doesn’t even have any legs?

A blend of hip hop, pop songs and Broadway standards keep the hour-long show spinning and zipping along, and fun spotlights showcase insect trivia throughout. The cast also includes Juanita Anderson (Butterfly), Jacquelyne Jones (Mrs. McBee) and Travis Austin Wright (Ant). This hardworking crew brought energy in spades to the genuinely funny dialogue and asides; no surprise, as this production was directed by Jen Ellison, resident director of the Second City and twenty-year Chicago theater veteran.

Geared at ages 3-9, this gentle performance will speak (or buzz) to the younger set, whether they identify with Fly’s hopes to become the first female superhero fly, Worm’s realization that he’s super-important to the Earth or any of the incredibly well thought-out character choices offered up as role models. (Butterfly’s aspirational turn as a duo of telenovela actors may just be one of my favorite onstage moments of 2016, thus far.)

Whomever they like best, this offering for Emerald City’s season celebrating beloved books highlights the fact that every crawler, burrower, spinner and soarer has something unique and wonderful to offer the world.

And that’s truly something to dig.

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