The Elephant and The Whale combines shadow puppets, circus life at Chicago Children’s Theatre

Have you ever heard the love story about an elephant and a whale? You aren’t alone if this story is new to you.

Chicago Children’s Theatre will conclude its seventh season with a world premiere collaboration with Redmoon Theater’s Frank Maugeri to present ” The Elephant and The Whale.”This unique family fable features sea voyages, wild mechanical objects, circus songs, panoramic paintings and shadow puppets.

The story of friendship conquering all obstacles is set in 1919, the end of an era for Ella the beloved circus elephant. When a nefarious new owner takes over the management of the show, Ella discovers an unexpected new animal in the circus: a landlocked and homesick baby whale. What happens next is a unique story of friendship and adventure spanning species, rivers, railroads and nautical miles.

“I believe that the story itself is simple and lyrical and comical in a way that will be very satisfying to younger children,” Director Frank Maugeri says. “But the images, the toy theater and the shadow segment, are particularly more mature. A storm at sea, a rancid villain, the imprisonment of the whale-all of the these images are quite sophisticated and compelling. We think older kids will be drawn to those characters quite significantly.”

The show features four performers who crank audio devices, pedal panoramic painting apparatuses and manipulate shadow sequences while they sing songs to weave the tale of The Elephant and the Whale.

“Audiences can expect three very specific types of puppetry in the show: cantastoria (moving scrolls of images), toy theater (small 2-D puppets) and shadow puppetry. Additionally, the four performers serve as clowns `telling’ the story both in song and relationship,” Maugeri says.

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