Based on the book by Kate DiCamillo
Directed by Stuart Carden
Produced by Chicago Children’s Theatre
At the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Chicago
“If you have no intention of loving or being loved,
then the whole journey is pointless.”
Fabulous children’s play extremely adult friendly
In a Chicago premiere now playing mornings at the Ruth Page Center, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, adapted by Dwayne Hartford from the book by Kate DiCamillo, is wonderful storytelling that adults, as well as children age seven and above, will enjoy! The tightly directed show by Stuart Carden, with a wood structure set by Lee Fiskness and with folk music (music direction/composers Jessie Fisher and Erik Hellman), is beautifully crafted and superbly performed. It is 80 minutes of theatrical thrills, with a touching tale about a toy rabbit (Edward Tulane) who travels around the world for twenty years before he finds friendship, his personal identity, and his way home.
Featuring an “A” list of Chicago Equity talent, we meet Melanie Brazill, Jessie Fisher, Kelvin Roston, Jr.,and Patrick Budde-who is the voice and conscious of Edward Tulane. Rachel Anne Healy and Timothy Mann have designed the china rabbit and his extensive wardrobe. In the hands of Melanie Brazill as little girls who love Edward, with Patrick Budde vocalizing Edward’s thoughts, and with Jessie Fisher’s narration, both Edward and the journey come alive on stage. Featuring Kelvin Roston, Jr. in multiple roles ranging from a beloved father to a villain, the cast of four deftly switch roles, sing original folk tunes, and play an assortment of acoustical instruments like guitars, banjos, and mandolins. The clever use of folk tunes and background music adds to the storytelling, as does the clever use of shadow puppets and smart lighting effects.
We experience Edward’s journey of discovery as he moves from a sweet girl, Abilene, (Brezill) who adores Edward, to Edward getting lost at sea as he starts learning life lessons. A fisherman (Roston) find Edward, and eventually he winds up in a garbage dump. A happy hobo (Roston) takes Edward with him in his travels. Edward comforts a sick child and wanders the streets of Memphis in his twenty year adventure. Jessie Fisher narrates while Budde expresses Edward’s thoughts, while deftly playing his string instruments.
This wonderful story is about the transformative power of love. Without sentimentality, Carden stages this engrossing tale so that the kids relate and the adults relish the story. It is not often that a children’s play is as sophisticated that adults who attend will enjoy the stage craft and the brilliant performances that makes The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane not only one of the finest children’s show in years, but one of the finest plays of 2015. It is a “must see” for children, teens, and adults. Kudos to Chicago Children’s Theatre for this amazingly powerful 80 minutes of theatre!
Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: October 23. 2015
For more info checkout The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Ruth Page Center, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL, call 872-222-9555, www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org, tickets $10 – $39, Tuesday thru Fridays at 10 am, Saturdays at 11 am, 2 & 6 pm, Sundays at 11 am & 2 pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission, through November 15, 2015