Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Hundred Dresses

By Ralph Covert & G. Riley Millsthe hundred dresses

Based on the book by Eleanor Estes

Directed by Sean Graney

Produced by Chicago Children’s Theatre

At the Royal George theatre

Delightful kids musical charms as it offers a lesson about bullying

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s ambitious new 80 minute musical that sings nicely with a bounce pop/rock score. This sweet little show is peopled by a nice assortment of talented players skilled in comedy and possessing strong voices.

The cast of The Hundred Dresses. Photo Michael Brosilow

The Hundred Dresses is a timeless tale about the power of words and finding the courage to stand up to others.  When a Polish immigrant with a strange accent, Wanda Petronski (Lauren Patten) enrolls at Franklin Elementary School, the ruling click led by the pretty-faced and  self-adsorbed Peggy Hawthorne (Natalie Berg)and her sidekick Maddie Martin (the strong voiced Leslie Ann Sheppard) go out of their way to mock Wanda. Peggy is unusually cruel to Wanda and Maddie feels guilt but doesn’t stand up to Peggy.

The boys–Willie Bounce (a terrific comic turn by Tyler Ravelson) and the nerdy Jack Beggles (Geoff Rice) are clueless and go alone with the verbal bullying.

When Wanda states that she has a hundred dresses and sixty pairs of shoes in her closet, the kids mocker her eventually forcing her to withdraw from the school. The kids learn a worthy lesson from Wanda’s parting gift. The lessons here are tame yet the show has sweet moments and fine musical numbers. The kids seemed to enjoy the show. Leslie Ann Sheppard’s strong vocals and Tyler Ravelson’s manic comedy enriched the show. Take your kids to this adult-proof show.

Recommended for children 6 and up

Tom Williams

At Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. halsted, Chicago, IL, call 312-988-9000, tickets $29 -$38, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30 am, Saturdays & Sundays at noon and 3 pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission.

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