Based on the novel by Dan Gutman
Directed by Derrick Sanders
Produced by Chicago Children’s Theatre
At the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Chicago
Child friendly tale honors Jackie Robinson’s courage
Steven Dietz’s stage adaptation of Dan Gutman’s novel, Jackie and Me is a wonderful kid’s show that pays homage to baseball, baseball cards and introduces children to the courage of Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.
The show is structured to see Joey (the exuberant, smiley Tyler Ross), a middle schooler who plays baseball with zest. He lives and breathes baseball. His temper goes wild when an opposing player calls him a ‘Pollack.’ He gets suspended from baseball for 2 games.
When his teacher assigns a 500 word essay for Black History Month, Joey picks Jackie Robinson from her list of worth men. Joey, with the aid of his parents, uses his time-traveling ability to go back in time to 1947 to Brooklyn to meet Jackie Robinson. Joey arrives there and appears as a black boy despite him being white. This change allows Joey a unique perspective on the discrimination suffer by blacks in New York City in 1947. We see how awful and degrading that color line was in society even in the North.
Tyler Ross is charming, lovable and heartfelt as the good kid bent on meeting his hero. He unexpectedly learns life lessons from Robinson (nice work by Kamal Angelo Bolden) and Branch Rickey (Charles Stransky) the brave Dodger general manager who had the chutzpah to sign Robinson to play in the Major Leagues.
This show is fast paced, funny and easily likable for kids. They learn about Jackie Robinson, racial discrimination and restraining one’s temper to achieve a larger goal. They learn that it takes more courage to not fight than start swinging when confronted by injustice. They also learn about baseball.
The 80 minute show is truthful, fun and filled with worthy life lessons for kids. Kamal Angelo Bolden and Tyler Ross are impressive as the heroes. Take your kids and grand kids (especially boys) to see this fun show. The actors knock it out of the park!
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: February 11. 2011
For full show information, check out the Jackie and Me page at Theatre In Chicago.
At the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL. www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org, tickets $35 adults, $25 children under 17, thur March 4: Tuesday through Friday at 10 am & 12:45 pm, Saturdays at 10 am; March 5 through March 27 on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am & 12:45, running time is 80 minutes without an intermission, through march 27, 2011