Lake County is home to many great community theatre groups and, in my opinion, they do a great job at Children’s Theatre. If you have ever wanted to take your child to a show but were unsure how they would react, community theatre is a great place to start. This weekend the Highland Park Players Present Winnie the Pooh and it’s a perfect show for younger children and first-time theatergoers.
Every child knows that lovely old bear, and many know his stories and antics. What makes this particular performance good for the very young (ages 2-4) is that the characters are not in your typical, full-animal costumes. No big puffy paws or face obstructing masks are present, so the characters are not scary at all. This same feature which makes it not scary to little ones, can also make it a little confusing to slightly older (ages 4-5) children. My almost 5-year-old knows the stories, but was thrown off a bit by the lack, by her definition, of costumes. For example, Kanga and Roo have matching hair and coordinating dresses, but the fact that it was Kanga and Roo was lost on her.
The stage design is amazing for a community theatre. You are greeted by a gorgeous storybook displaying the map of The Hundred Acre Wood. Any child that has read the classic pooh tales will recognize it. The show starts with Christopher Robin and the Narrator sitting down to read the story. The book opens and the stage is set to The Hundred Acre Wood.
The narrator stays present throughout the show, sitting in a corner on the stage smoking a pipe, and reading the story. The story itself takes several of the Pooh classics and weaves them into one tale; Kanga arriving at The Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh trying to get the honey with a balloon, and Pooh getting stuck in Rabbit’s door. The show is fast paced, with an ensemble of dancers who come out for the songs, some of which children will recognize and others that are new. Kanga, played by Pamela Anderson, breaks out into a jazzy number near the end that shows off her impressive voice.
I saw the show last weekend with my (almost) 3 and 5-year-old and enjoyed it. My 3-year-old is not a fan of costumed characters, and he did okay through the most of the show. There is a scene with the Heffalump Song where it gets a bit dark and he was scared (we also were sitting too close to the speaker), but unlike at a larger dedicated theater, no one seemed bothered by him (and plenty of other children were fidgeting or noisy) so I was able to stay for the whole show.
After the show characters will line the stage for a meet and greet, and children can take pictures and have their playbills autographed by the cast. The show is presented at Edgewood School and tickets are general admission.
Winnie the Pooh
presented by the Highland park Players
Edgewood Auditorium, 929 Edgewod Rd., Highland Park
February 13 and 14
10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Tickets are $11 and available online or at the door.
Disclosure: my family received tickets in order to facilitate this review. All thoughts an opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.