On a recent Saturday morning, my two daughters and I found ourselves shouting, “fairy,” “pickle,”and “roar.”
If you go
- Stage 773
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
- Stage 773
- for kids 3-10
- 10:30 a.m. Saturday
It was just another day at Storytown, the Saturday morning children’s improv show. It’s been a Chicago tradition since 2009, but in March, Storytown moved to a new spot at Stage 773.
The new location is the perfect venue: It’s got tons of bathroom stalls to satisfy small bladders; a large-ish lobby which offers enough room for tables to hold birthday cake (more on that later); the stage is big enough to contain all the children but not too big to overwhelm; and the theater is small enough that even in the last row, you feel included in the improv scenes.
There are four stages at 773, so throughout the year, Storytownwill move around depending on the audience size and the sets. More programming for the new venue is being considered as well.
The current show, however, hasn’t changed. The children are asked to suggest themes for the story that the improv actors will sing, dance and act their way through during the 60-minute play. There are also two artists who construct props and costumes throughout the show to go along with it as the story takes its twists and turns. And there’s a fabulous pianist who also makes up the music as he goes along.
It’s a lot like a Second City show sans the dirty jokes. There’s the impromptu singing, the silly dancing and the scenes that don’t make much sense (on the day we visited, the show was about a birthday fairyland specializing in pickles and dinosaur ice cream . . . or something along those lines) but are still fun.
We wished there had been just a little more interaction with the children, however. Our favorite part of going to an improv show is making scene suggestions, and while there were a few requests for these at the beginning, they basically ceased once the scene was set.
Our 4-year-old was also disappointed that she didn’t get to go on stage to act out a few improv scenes on her own, but given that the show appeared to be nearly sold out with about 50 children in the audience, limiting the amount of kid interaction may have been a good move.
For $10 and no reservation necessarily needed, this is an amazing deal in Chicago. All you need to do is roll out of bed (or, let’s be honest, be dragged out at 6 a.m. by a child demanding to be entertained for the next 12 hours), and spend less than you would at the movies to see a fun live show.
An even better deal is the birthday party, which is $8 per child plus a $75 fee to reserve a spot in the lobby to set up a table for BYO food and gifts. While it’s not a private party (unless, of course, you rent the entire theater), the birthday child gets called to the stage for a birthday song and a special acknowledgement of his day.