Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Emperor’s New Clothing

Music and Lyrics by Alan Schmuckler

the emperor's new clothes by alan schmuckler
The Emperor's New Clothes

Book by David Holstein

Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Rockwell

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater

New world premiere of the new children’s musical offers a fresh take on Andersen’s classic tale.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has a world premiere family musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story, The Emperor’s New Clothes now playing on the theater’s main stage using a vivid set by Kevin Depinet that aptly sends the audience into the land of fairy tales.  This commissioned work is a new adaptation, minus the naked emperor and adding a bright, sassy daughter of the emperor – Sam (Megan Long) is a funny, tuneful slickly produced children’s show.

the emperor's new clothes by alan schmuckler

This is a new fairy tale that sends a useful message on conformity, bullying, peer group pressure as well as honesty. Our Emperor (the funny Don Forston) is a vain, totally unaware monarch obsessed with flamboyant clothing (Debbie Baer) but really a nice guy. He and his daughter Sam disagree on everything – especially fashion. Can they ever see-eye-to-eye?

the emperor's new clothes by alan schmuckler

The evil Lord Vince (Jonathan Weir in a fine turn displaying his terrific singing voice) wants to embarrass the emperor by using the mother and sons seamstress team (Anne Gunn and Alex Goodrich) whose desperate economic situation has them trying to ‘sell’ the emperor on the validity of their non-existing clothing for the Emperor. Mark David Kaplan, George Andrew Wolff and Jarrod Zimmerman are the Secretaries to the Emperor. These three funny, singing and dancing aids help resolve the clothing conflict. Their performances were delightful.

Through  a sassy, smart and light-hearted score and witty fun lyrics by Alan Schmuckler, this unique take on Andersen’s tale is a warm expertly directed fun 75 minute Broadway musical. The colorful characters are aided by sophisticated songs that effectively tell the tale. Alan Schmuckler’s talent as a composer begs him to write a full Broadway musical. This show showcases his talent.


Tom Williams

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier,  Chicago, IL, call 312-595-5600, for complete schedule:, tickets $18 – $23.

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