A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant

Book, Music and Lyrics by Kyle JarrowScipag-logo-color

From a concept by Alex Timbers

Directed by Kathryn Walsh

At Next Theatre

Brave effort by grade school kids filled with cute moments

Since I don’t see children’s shows performed by grade school kids, I have a hard time reviewing or applying a standard for success.  When the eight hard working kids finished Kyle Jarrow’s satire of both Scientology and religious pageants,  I was quite appreciative of their work ethic as they flawlessly, at their skill level,  ran through their songs and routines and dialogue.

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Jennifer Baker, John Compton, Lauren Delfs, Sara Geist, Jason Krause, Shaina Jones, Nicole Rudakova and Kevin Wyant each had their moments to sparkle.  Their energy and dedication was contagious even if  the material was a tad too mature for their skill level. I’d advise to limit this show to a more polished group of–say– high school students whose singing, dancing and acting skills are more developed.

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As it played out at Next Theatre, this 65 minute satirical comedy with songs loses its charm a few minutes into the show. It struck me that I was witnessing a musical pageant at a grade school–the kind of show you see if one of your family member’s kids are appearing in. The production values, understandably, are not what you’d expect from an professional Equity theatre company like Next Theatre. If you see this show, understand that it is a major achievement for a group of kids working without the aid of adults on stage. That alone wins my admiration even if their skill level is still developing.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

At Next Theatre, in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL, tickets $20 -$25, call 847-475-1875, www.nexttheatre.org, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm (no performances on 12/24 0r 12/25), running time is 65 minutes without intermission.