“The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party” – by Rick & Brenda McCain

The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party through December 29 at The Station, 100 West Racine.

These days when most animation is computer-generated, the imaginary world of a child is slowly disappearing.

The Chicago Children Theatre’s (CCT) Founding Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell felt that Chicago needed a children’s theater to motivate the creativity of children. Under her direction, CCT has built a reputation for producing first-rate theatrical productions and has brought other high-quality children plays to CCT.

The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party is a charming and delightful storybook play that is engaging and just a fun place to be. CCT performers are Lara Carling, Kay Kron, with Ray Rehberg, who comes out before the play to speak with the kiddies to get their imagination ready for an hour of amazing stories from Beatrix Potter.

A British writer and best-selling children’s book author, Potter combined her love for animals and the English countryside in many of the stories she wrote.

Director Will Bishop and designer Grace Needlman do an exceptional job with the direction of the stories and engaging the changing attention span of children – which psychiatrists claim is only about 3 to 5 minutes per year of a child’s age – by setting up a simple – but inquisitive stage.

The music, written and performed by Ray Rehberg, fits well with the stories where most would believe it’s the original score. Rehberg does let his rock metal persona show during one of the four stories, and the kids seem to enjoy it.

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party is a wonderful way for parents and even grandparents to enjoy a day as a family. CCT has once again provided a welcoming family atmosphere where the imagination of children can thrive.

Kids, as well as adults, will genuinely enjoy the three multi-talented actors sharing four adorable Beatrix Potter stories filled with mechanical suitcases, boxes, animated animal sculptures, and life-like puppetry.

This year’s Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party features four stories: The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jeremy Fisher, The Tailor of Gloucester, and The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse.

I must admit that I never read these stories and vaguely remember them, but Carling and Kron are fantastic storytellers. I found myself feeling like a five-year-old, fascinated with each word. Fighting my desire to go and sit up front with the other children, I peeked at some of them, and most were just as engaged.

As each story was read, you could see that even the adults were relishing the memories of storytime, reminiscing about their childhood stories as Peter Rabbit runs through the farmer’s field.

Once the under an hour play ends, CCT allows the children to come on stage and play with some of the animated figures and mechanical suitcases, take photos with the cast and even provides cookies, warm cocoa, and coloring activities.

CCT offers free tickets to more than 5,000 low-income students each season in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. CCT also continues to grow its performing arts and STEAM education programs, offering classes, workshops, winter and spring break camps, and summer camps for ages 0 to 13.

Let’s Play Highly Recommends the Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party at Chicago Children Theater which runs weekends through December 29th at The Station, located at 100 West Racine Avenue in the West Loop.

For tickets and more information, visit http://chicagochildrenstheatre.org/beatrix-potter/

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