Miniature fans of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be thrilled that the classic has inched its way back to the Ruth Page Center for Arts.
The Chicago Children’s Theatre brought back the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s sweet production, which is essentially a super cute, fantastically imaginative puppet show.
But it’s done so well that it’s easy to forget that these creatures are mere puppets – and even adults may lose themselves in the world of a caterpillar who is simply trying to transform himself into a beautiful butterfly.
Using black light visual effects, the puppeteers are dressed head to toe in black masks and black clothing so you can’t detect them at all – and the puppets look like giant fruits plucked directly from the pages of Carle’s book. Since Director Jim Morrow chose to use puppets instead of people, the magic of the book is directly transferred onto the stage, and it really feels like the story comes alive.
The 50-minute (no intermission) play doesn’t solely consist of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, however. It centers around a total of three of Carle’s transformative works for children: Little Cloud and The Mixed-Up Chameleon precede The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Both are done in the same puppetry style, and they’re all so, so sweet, simple and beautiful.
If you saw this production four years ago, it will seem similar (if not almost identical) now – but chances are, your child will not remember or care. I took my now 5 ½-year-old when she was 1 1/2, and she loved it today just as much as she loved it then. Thanks to the “no shushing” policy at this theater, the delighted children in the sold-out audience commented along with the production, which made it even more entertaining and whimsical.
Tickets, starting at $25, are available through June 1 at the Ruth Page Center for Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago.