Using my very best Spanish accent, in a muy muy soft voice, I told my Mega Fan daughter that we were going to see Skippyjon Jones in Cirque de Ole at the Apollo Theater in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. She may not be a toddler any longer, but that doesn’t keep her from loving every Skippyjon book that author (and uber talented illustrator) Judy Schachner has released. In fact, a few years ago, my kiddo was stalking a local book store for the new release as though they were selling 70″ TVs the morning after Thanksgiving for $20. She has also gone as Skippito Friskito for Halloween, with my dressing up as Mama Junebug, Bob in a Chihuahua shirt (so he could call himself Don Diego, the biggest of the Small Ones) and our dog as the Bumblebeeto Bandito (he made such a cute bumble bee). She still drops lines from the books like I do with lines from The Princess Bride and she still loves reading the books and listening to the audio versions read by Ms. Schachner. So, yes, we’re fans. What’s not to love? If you’re a parent that reads to their kids, these books are DYING to be read with fun character voices, sound effects and accents. Skippyjon and a few of the other animals in the books like to replace some of the dialogue with Spanish, so it’s a great little intro to Spanish for your kids as well. And have I mentioned that the artwork is glorious? You can easily spend 10 minutes on a page just taking in all the details that are drawn for the curious and imaginative eye.
The Emerald City Theatre group has been putting on this musical version of one of the Skippyjon book titled Cirque de Ole since February this year, and it runs through May 26, 2016 at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N Lincoln Ave. It’s about Skippyjon’s imaginary trip to the big top with his friends, Los Chimichangos, and how he has a close encounter with Putzi Schtrungleboot, The Strong Dog. It continues the storyline in all the books: Skippy’s obsession with being a Chihuahua (instead of his Siamese cat self) and keeping his mama on her toes. The ECT did an amazing job bringing the story to life and song, and we found ourselves belly laughing dozens of times during the 1-hour performance. Many of our favorite moments and lines were organically used in the performance and this pleased my daughter immensely. The cast has a meet-and-greet after the show so your kids can say Hola and take a photo with their book heroes. There are also books and plush Skippyjons for sale, as well as snacks (chips, fruit snacks, etc.) and bottled water and juices. The Apollo Theater is cozy and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Field trips and group outings can be accommodated, also. What a good way to get out and do something fun in Chicago while our weather is still trying to make up its mind. The building is also just blocks away from Oz Park, another cool place to check out while you’re in the area.
If you can’t make it to the show, you’re definitely missing out, but be sure to support The Emerald City Theatre group in other performances, as they are a super talented group of people. We were blown away with some of the singing talent hiding behind cat and dog ears that day. You can see a list of shows and locations for them here.
Also be sure to pick up the Skippyjon Jones books if you haven’t done so (and then my Skippyjon references will make more sense). You can buy Cirque de Ole here as well as any other Skippyjon titles here. Skippyjon Jones also has a very fun, interactive website for kids and parents, which you can get to by clicking here.