MUST SEEREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Shockheaded Peter (Der Struwwelper)

Based on Heinrich Hoffman’s 1845 novel.

Created for the stage by Julian Crouch & Phelim McDermott.

Music and lyrics by The Tiger Lillies.

Directed by Ed Rutherford.

Music Direction by T.J. Anderson.

Choreographer: Derek Van Barham.

Produced by Black Button Eyes Productions.

At the Athenaeum Theatre, Chicago.

A stunning, dark children’s chamber musical awaits with loads of theatricality and horror.

The first gem of the new theatre season, Shockheaded Peter, is ready for an audience.  Director Ed Rutherford has created, with the help from choreographer Derek Van Barham. and set, props and puppet designer Jeremiah Barr, one of the most innovative, goolish yet mesmerizing children’s chamber musical to be mounted in Chicago in years. This is a scary, funny cautionary tale that is both a work of art and a functioning musical. The twelve players, lead by the hammy MC, Kevin Webb, who weirds-out us yet sets the tone for the 65 minute musical.

This is a horror story that is a sinister tale of a couple has their foundest wish (for a boy child) granted yet the child is deformed with wild hair and sizzor-like hands. The couple hides him in a trunk. The chamber musical turns into to several creative vignettes about what happens to nauughty children when they misbehave. These funny yet scary tales are creatively told with abandomand innovative creativity.  (check out the props, the puppets and the wonderful costumes in the enclosed photos from the production.)

Holding this show together is the terrific music from Anderson’s three person band with the help from various actors playing instruments. Shockheaded Peter is a engrossingshow that launches audiences into the world of Grand Guignol theatre so completely that we stay on the edge of our seats waiting for the next scary event. This is storytelling at its creative best. The blend of music, comedy, horror with shocking costumes and cautionary children’s moral lessions becomes a satisfying theatrical event.    Shockheaded Peter is Ed Rutherford’s finest work to date. This is the first “must see” show of the new season!

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Jeff Recommended.

At the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, Chicago, IL call773-935-6875, tickets $32, students $17, Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 65 minutes without intermission..