Harold and the Purple CrayonIf you want your kids to learn to like something, it’s important to start them early, whether you’re talking broccoli or live theater. It worked for my teens–for both broccoli and theater.

Chicago Children’s Theater, one of Chicago’s finest children’s theater companies and the latest to find a new, permanent home, is staging “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” a live look at the gentle children’s story. The simple white-washed stage serves as a perfect backdrop for Harold’s purple drawings and the music is just peppy enough to get the little ones up and bouncing in the aisles–just the way the under-5 set should be.

It won’t help get them to eat broccoli, but it could be just the ticket to turning them into life-long theater lovers.

The biggest star of this show is the set design. The all-white backdrops are the perfect canvas for Harold’s crayon, all created through the magic of video projections and stage lighting.

Harold 2The Actors

Harold is played by Nate Lewellyn and he’s accompanied onstage by the talented Alex Goodrich and Bethany Thomas, who do it all–sing, puppeteer, dress up as sea creatures and dragons, and serve as the propulsion system for Harold’s “rocket ship.”

This is the same imaginative 4-year-old your kids love, but reincarnated in the form of a man in a onesy, complete with butt flap. (The 3-year-old sitting next to me had to know: “What is that flap for?” and, when Harold/Nate replied, “So my diaper can be changed,” he responded, “Ewww” and hit behind his jacket until Harold/Nate walked on.)

New Home for Chicago Children’s Theater

“Harold and the Purple Crayon” is the theater company’s first performance in its new, permanent home at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts at 1016 N. Dearborn Pkwy, in one of the city’s toniest neighborhoods. For the last three years, Chicago Children’s Theater has been on the move, playing at venues all over town.

Tickets are $20-$36. Shows starts at the kid-friendly hour of 6:30 p.m. Arrive early to let your little Harolds draw their own imaginative creations using purple chalk on the blackboards in the lobby. Thursday night shows include pre-show pizza parties and Friday night shows ask kids to come in their PJs and stick around for an after-show pajama party with Harold.