If Chicago is among the best places in the world to see live theater—and it is—then fall is the prime season to introduce your children to the best of the best. Here are our ripe ‘n’ juicy picks to help you fill your family’s artistic cornucopia!
KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities
The United Center
1901 W. Madison St., Chicago
Through Sept. 20
There’s theater, and then there’s Cirque du Soleil. The latter, for the uninitiated, combines circus artistry with incredible strength, eye-popping and immersive visuals, and stories that permeate every pore of your being. Their latest offering is KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities, and the thematically steampunk show promises never-before-seen tricks and treats, a stunning makeshift mechanical dream world, and characters that will appeal to the entire family.
10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire
Through Oct. 11
Know a kid who dreams of reaching for the stars—literally? They’ll identify with 1950s teenager Homer Hickam, whose plans for life beyond his West Virginia coal-mining town just so happen to coincide with the race to space. This musical film adaptation (directed by superstar director Rachel Rockwell) was produced in association with the studio that brought us Wicked, Billy Elliott and Bring it On—so it’s a safe bet that it’ll be a stellar time.
Goodnight Moon& The Runaway Bunny
Chicago Children’s Theatre at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts
1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
Sept. 30-Oct. 11
There’s just something about Margaret Wise Brown’s bunnies. In Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s production for the younger set, these two classic tales are woven together with beautiful imagery and puppets, themes of security, and the comforting text that you could probably recite in your sleep by this point. (Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see it onstage for a change?)
Dragons Love Tacos
The Apollo Theater
2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Oct. 17-Jan. 3
Every so often, a kids’ book comes along that children adore and parents have a blast reading. New York Times bestseller Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin, is a shining example of that (sometimes elusive) category: if you want to throw a successful party for your dragon pals, you’d better stock up on boatloads of tacos. But hold the spicy salsa—or else. This Emerald City offering was co-created with the Chicago Repertory Ballet which, if you hadn’t already been hooked by the dragon/taco premise, should totally do the trick.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago
Oct. 24-Nov. 29
Mr. Popper is out of work painting houses until next spring. Mrs. Popper scrimps and saves to support her daydreaming husband. But nothing shakes up a quiet existence like the arrival of a penguin with moxie to spare! That’s the premise behind the beloved 1938 tale by Richard and Florence Atwater, which gets the Lifeline treatment in this world-premiere musical featuring flocks of penguins—and more charm than your flippers can hold.
Robin Hood and Maid Marian
Forks& Hope Ensemble at Strawdog Theatre Company
3829 N. Broadway Ave., Chicago
Nov. 23-Dec. 23
Fans of the wonderfully original The Hunting of the Snark and the haunting Best Beloved: The Just So Stories know what the Forks& Hope ensemble bring to the table. This fall, the inventive troupe is staging the tale of everyone’s favorite bandit and his damsel-sometimes-in-distress. While we can’t promise it’ll be exactly like the stories from your childhood (Disney’s fox comes to mind), this swashbuckling, world-premiere adaptation of Tennyson’s The Foresters will be downright magical for your little outlaws.