4 storybook classics brought to theater

Sharing story time with the youngest of readers is a magical endeavor, but nothing matches the thrill of seeing a beloved tale spring to life onstage. Make a plan this spring to bookmark these adaptations of the stories you read night after night—and take the day off from the character voices, already.

Fancy Nancy the Musical

Runs through May 24

Emerald City Theatre Company

The Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

emeraldcitytheatre.com (773) 935-6100 

Nancy, everyone’s favorite extravagant gal (that’s a fancy word for “fancy), is starring in her very own sparkly musical. Based on the wildly popular books written by Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, this staged tale finds Nancy eager to star as the prima ballerina in her first recital … but cast as a dull tree. Will she find a way to make the best out of a decidedly un-fancy situation? Will your little ones (between the ages of 3 to 9, especially) adore every second? To answer in our heroine’s favorite fancy language, Oui.

Busytown

Runs March 28-May 2

Northbrook Theatre, 3323 Walters Ave., Northbrook

nbparks.org/Theatre-Performing-Arts/purchase-tickets.htm (847) 291-2367

Do your kids scream “Hooray for Huckle” at the drop of a hat? Join Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, and all of their friends in this new take on Richard Scarry’s wonderful books as they explore Busytown and discover what keeps a city going—and yes, the answer might involve a pickle car.

The One and Only Ivan

Runs March 21-April 26

Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N.  Glenwood Ave.

lifelinetheatre.com

(773) 761-4477

Chances are good that your resident animal-lover already knows (and loves) the tale of Ivan: a gorilla, living in caged captivity as a roadside attraction, who befriends a newly arrived elephant named Ruby. Based on true events (and recommended for ages 5 and up), this poignant and powerful bestseller written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Patricia Castelao celebrates unexpected friendship—and finding the hero within ourselves.

Wonderland, Alice’s Rock n’ Roll Adventure

Runs April 22-May 24

Ruth Page Center for Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

(872) 222-9555

chicagochildrenstheatre.org

What do you get when some of the top Chicago theater artists combine the whimsy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with a powerhouse soundtrack (ranging from rock to even a little Bollywood)? One impressive 7- (and a half!) year-old heroine, a musical odyssey of self-discovery, and grins worthy of the Cheshire Cat.

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