Don’t miss the pre-show!
As if turning on the dimmer switch to full brightness, the super-talented five person cast--- only five!--- of The Steadfast Tin Soldier slowly begins luring you into their magical world, as much as a half hour before the show begins. In fun costumes (Costume Design: Ana Kuzmanic) —a calf headed torso with thin white legs, a woman in dress that puffs out like a pear, a pantalooned man with funny cap—they do teasing ceremonies with stepladder as prop, to open another cubbyhole revealing a Holiday season treat in a wall-sized Advent Calendar. These interludes come and go as if on a timer. They make you focus on how Todd Rosenthal’s set captures the thrill of unwrapping holiday gifts, and anticipating Christmas. (And yet, before the show proper begins, we can’t imagine how this pre-curtain scene is but a fraction of the magic that Rosenthal’s set design will convey as the story unfolds!
Lookingglass Theatre Company Finds the Perfect Fit for a Chicago Crowd
Meanwhile, you too may be struck by how many accents and tongues --. Russian, Spanish, Chinese, etc. --are bubbling from the audience of children and adults. This is a school night. This writer is hard put to think of any show that would be more perfect for such an audience. It unfolds silently, until the finale song sung by the entire cast.
The Steadfast Tin Soldier is trademark Mary Zimmerman, who is both writer and director. You too may marvel at how rarely you see such imagination on a stage. You too may then realize that the last time you did see such stage magic, was actually at a prior Mary Zimmerman show!
Zimmerman couldn’t pull it off without the amazingly talented actors in this show, by this writer’s lights. They put the physical in physical theater – and then some. No spoiler details here of their antics. Just know they mesmerize. Also know that they are not just schooled, but clearly have the equivalent of PhDs, in how to tell narratives in gestures. They transport us thoroughly to a world where fairy tales are real, nd the grey of our winter’s day is a distant memory.
These physical theater talents are also armed with stand out puppets (Puppet Design: Chicago Puppet Studio) that do things like distill the short path to an infant’s mouth for all things in their reach, or what it’s like to share dinner with a child in the terrible threes. Costumed musicians playfully interact with the cast, both from stage and pit. A backdrop of lilting and affect signaling tunes move the story along (Music Composition: Andre Pluess and Amanda Dehnert).
For the adults in the room, please know that Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale message to keep on keeping on will resonate with you too. This could be the spiritual vitamin shot you need to counter the shortening days.
Scrooges stay away. For everyone else, this is a top pick.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves
Click here to read more Picture This Post Lookingglass Theatre stories.
Title: The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Written and Directed by: Mary Zimmerman
From the story by: Hans Christian Andersen
Kasey Foster (Ballerina) and Anthony Irons (Goblin), with Joe Dempsey (Nursemaid), John Gregorio (Rat), and Alex Stein (Steadfast Tin Soldier).
Todd Rosenthal (scenic design), Ana Kuzmanic (costume design), TJ Gerckens (lighting design), Artistic Associate Andre Pluess and Christopher M. LaPorte (sound design), Leandro López Várady (associate arranger), Ensemble Member Tracy Walsh (choreography), Artistic Associate Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi (circus choreography), Chicago Puppet Studio (puppet design), Amanda Herrmann (properties) and Rigability Inc. (rigging design)
Through January 26, 2020
Tuesdays: 7:30 p.m. (except Nov. 5 and 12; Jan. 7 and 14) 2:00 p.m. (Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 only)
Wednesdays: 2:00 p.m. (Nov. 27 only) 7:30 p.m. (except Dec. 25; Jan. 1)
Thursdays: 2:00 p.m. (except Nov. 28; Jan. 16 and 23) 7:30 p.m. (except Nov. 28)
Fridays: 2:00 p.m. (Nov. 29 only) 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. (except Nov. 2) 7:30 p.m. (except Nov. 23; Dec. 7)
Sundays: 2:00 p.m. (except Nov. 3) 7:30 p.m. (except Nov. 3)
Lookingglass Theatre Company
Water Tower Water Works,
821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson,