Dragons Love Tacos- Oregon Children’s Theatre

If you are like us, the book Dragons Love Tacos has been read many, many times in your household. So we were quite excited to see it come to life on Oregon Children’s Theatre’s stage this past weekend!

For those not familiar with the story, a boy is home alone while his mother steps out for a moment and dragons arrive and set forth with planning a taco party- because dragons love tacos! It is critically important to make sure all toppings are mild as spicy foods lead to unfortunate tummy symptoms in dragons. When they fail to read the fine print on the jar of mild salsa which states that it now contains spicy jalapenos, chaos and destruction ensue. Luckily, they all work together to put everything back together before mom gets home. Phew!

We were lucky to be able to participate in a back stage tour before the show started. Chicken and Nugget have done this before and love it, while it was a new experience for Nugget’s friend that we brought along with us. All three of them asked questions and had fun seeing the costumes and set up close.

As we settled in to get ready for the show to start, you could hear the excitement in the audience. This is a story many kids are familiar with, especially the pre-school and kindergarten crowd, and children in this age range filled the auditorium.

The story is facilitated by a VERY energetic narrator, who arrives through the family’s television as part of a 24 part documentary about dragons. The book does not include character dialog, and the play is consistent with this. While the boy in the story has a couple of lines at the very end, the narrator otherwise provides the only talking during the show.

The costumes were really the star of this production. They are colorful, oversized structures that cover the full body of the actors while still allowing the actors to move freely. The red and yellow dragons in particular got pleased gasps from the audience as they were introduced on stage. The fire caused by the dragon’s tummy trouble was also a cool moment technically on stage.

As is typical of shows targeted toward the youngest theatre goers, the audience remained rather noisy throughout the show. While the production attempted to embrace this by creating moments for audience participation by encouraging the shouting out of answers to questions, I always have to remind myself to be understanding of the lack of typical theater behavior. Take a chill pill, mom.

There is some fun music in the show, and Nugget and his friend were dancing in their seats on more than one occasion. I caught each of them smiling and giggling at various points in the show. There is some Spanish used at the beginning of the show, and as all three kiddos go to a Spanish immersion school, they were all excited to hear this.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, although not necessarily my favorite. Chicken summed it up perfectly by saying “I’m glad we went but I don’t need to see it again,” To which Nugget promptly replied “What are you talking about? I would go again. Mom, can we go again?”


What it’s not: a favorite of mine or Chicken’s, a quiet audience experience, a typical play in terms of division of dialogue

What it is: enjoyable, familiar and exciting to young audiences, fantastic costumes, fun to see a family favorite brought to life

Would we recommend it? I wouldn’t NOT recommend it. While it wasn’t a favorite, it’s well done and the littles around us seemed to get a kick out of it.

Theater, Volunteering

Volunteering at Northwest Children’s Theater

If you follow this blog at all, you know that we tend to go to a lot of theater.  One of the really cool things about Northwest Children’s Theater in particular is the multiple ways children can get involved with the theater experience- from attending plays, taking classes, Girl Scout workshops, going to theater camp, or even volunteering. We have taken advantage of most of those opportunities, but we recently gave volunteering a shot for the very first time!

Children as young as 4 are allowed to be assistant ushers or program passers (as long as an adult is with them).  Nugget has been itching to do this for a while.  There have been times we have arrived early and he has asked for jobs to do.  The staff there is so amazing, and they have given him extremely important responsibilities like making sure the bathroom lights are on and that there is toilet paper in the boys bathroom.  He took these tasks quite seriously.

This fall, we decided to do it the real way.  I signed the three of us up to be usher’s for the season opener play, How I Became a Pirate. We were told to arrive an hour prior to show time. After your first time, you are asked to arrived 40 minutes prior to the start. After some quick paperwork for the grown-ups, we were assigned our duties.


Nugget and I were designated as program passers. Nugget’s face about broke from his excited smile. He grabbed some familiar faces (like I said, we go there a lot), to role play his job and took it all very seriously. He was a fantastic program passer.

Chicken got to be a stage guard, which meant she sat on the steps leading up onto the stage to keep curious kiddos off the stage. She was very excited. I was busy with Nugget, but apparently she tracked down the mom of a kiddo who was adamant about getting on stage. Don’t mess with my kid!


As we waited for patrons to arrive, we were asked to help fill in missing numbers that they tape to the back of seats to make them easier to find. As this involved the use of a packaging tape dispenser, both kiddos were totally on board.

We were told that once our duties were done, we could sit anywhere there were open seats. As the show we were at didn’t happen to be overly crowded, we would up with a pretty good view! It did take us a moment to get into audience mode after coming straight from our ‘job,’ but we settled in quickly and thoroughly enjoyed the show!

Apart from the benefit of being allowed to see the show without purchasing a ticket, we were also heach given a token for a free concession to use at the next show we come to.

Northwest Children’s Theater also started a passport program this season. You earn stamps in your passport for doing different things related to attending the theater, and volunteering is one of them. There are prizes as you acquire stamps. First stamp- check! In order to acquire additional stamps, you can do things like take public transportation to a show, dress up for a show, take a class, etc. Next time you are there, take a minute to check it out!

What it is: fun, developmentally appropriate assigned jobs, a way to ease the financial burden of going to shows, a way for kids to feel involved and helpful

What it’s not: for kids who are painfully shy

You can sign up to volunteer here:

You can buy tickets here:


Matilda- Lakewood Center for the Arts

We recently had the opportunity to see one of our favorite people, as well as some other familiar faces, perform in Matilda at Lakewood Center for the Arts. Based on my absolute favorite Roald Dahl novel, Matilda is the story of a brilliant little girl who lives in the world of books.  Her parents to not recognize her specialness, or if they do, it is only to resent it.  Matilda develops some unique abilities, which she uses to help her teacher, Miss Honey, with whom she develops a loving and nurturing relationship.

We had actually never been to Lakewood, which is nestled in the city of Lake Oswego.  The property is quite pretty, so we took advantage of the grassy areas to stretch our legs and smell the flowers (literally) as we waited for friends to arrive.

I had taken Chicken to the Broadway national tour a couple of years ago, and I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite.  There were some really cool parts, but overall it was a bit shouty and angry for my taste, especially compared to the sweetness of the book.  Luckily, we had a completely different experience with this production.  The kids were fantastic, the singing was great, and it had a completely different feel than the previous version we had seen.  The script and songs were the same, but it was much lighter and much more enjoyable.  The sets and costumes were simple, but got the job done.  There was some interesting lighting and use of digital media, which was nice to see.

The entire cast was very talented.  We alway really enjoy performances where young kids blow you away with their singing abilities, and this definitely fit the bill.  The stand out was Danielle Valentine, who played the father, Mr. Wormwood.  She embraced the gender bending role and played it to perfection.  After intermission, she came out and engaged in some audience interaction before launching into a mostly solo song about all the benefits of television (the son helps out with a periodic strum of the ukulele and joined in each time the father says ‘telly’).  Whether planned or not, the entire audience was laughing after Mr. Wormwood talks about all the dangers of reading only to call upon a woman who said “I’m with SMART”(Start Making a Reader Today).  The ensuing interaction was perfect.

Overall, I found this production of Matilda to be much more kid-friendly than the national tour version we saw.  Chicken and Nugget both enjoyed it and we listen to the Revolting Children song on repeat the whole way home.  None of us can nail Bruce’s trademark note in that song, but we sure had fun trying.  I am sad to report that Nugget has also been trying to master Bruce’s burp.  You win some, you lose some.

If your child is a fan of the book, they will likely enjoy the play.  Just be aware the story does deviate some from the book and there are some darker themes.

If you are interested in seeing the show, you can find tickets here:



Into the Woods- Broadway Rose

When I told the kiddos were going to go see Into the Woods, they had no idea what I was talking about.  So I rattled off the fairy tale characters they would see in the play, and Nugget asked,  “so it’s a Disney movie?”  Um… not quite.

Today I loaded them into the car, still confused, and we headed to Broadway Rose.  If you’re not familiar with the story, a variety of characters from familiar fairy tales- Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack (commonly associated with a beanstalk), princes, etc., come to life in all their flawed glory.  In the first act, they find their happily ever after.  In the second act, they face the consequences for their decisions and their actions.  While the first act is fun and silly and definitely fairy tale-esque, the second act is much darker.  And some of those happily ever afters start to unravel.  Just like poor Rapunzel’s mental health.

This show is simply amazing.  The set is simple but effective, the cast is beyond talented, and a single piano player plays the entire score by himself- on stage.  The props are delightfully and intentionally campy- a wooden harp that doesn’t play music, wooden farm animals wheeled around on wooden bases, etc.   There’s humor, intelligence, silliness, and life lessons all wrapped up in songs and music that will stick with you long after you leave the theater.

While I was probably the biggest fan of the three of us, Chicken and Nugget both enjoyed the show.  Chicken was frequently on the edge of her seat, and Nugget really loved the cow.  I know.  A lot of the humor was over their head, but they both giggled at different parts and remained engaged for the entire performance.

There are a few instances of sexual innuendo as well as implied violence.  However, most of the violence takes place off stage or is lightened in some way- like the use of long red ribbons to represent blood.  It could still be scary for young kids with active imaginations, though.  Poor Nugget really thought one of the step-sisters was getting a toe cut off each show.  He was relieved to have that cleared up!

The show runs about 3 hours, including an intermission.  The length of the show and the relative darkness of the second half may not make it the perfect introduction to theater for young children.  Older children (upper elementary school and above) will likely love it.


What it’s not: appropriate for young children who can’t sit for a 3 hour production or who may be traumatized by some of fairy tale characters meeting an unpleasant demise

What it is: funny, engaging, full of incredible acting and singing, a twist on classic stories and finding a new happily ever after

Do we recommend it?  For older children, definitely!  It’s a really fun and well done show and I’m very glad we went!

The show runs through June 30.  You can find tickets here:







School of Rock the Musical

I love the movie School of Rock, but have never gotten around to showing it to my kids.  When I saw this on the schedule for Portland’s current Broadway Across America schedule, I figured it was a bit over the kiddos’ heads and figured it would be a good date night for me and the husband.  Then, of course, Chicken saw the ads and decided she had to see it.  When I asked her why she was so interested, she said “Mom.  It’s kids in a band.  Come on!  That’s awesome!”

So, being that the Easter Bunny who visits our family happens to be very supportive of the arts, tickets magically showed up in her Easter basket to a resounding “yes!!!” when the envelope was opened.

This weekend the day finally arrived.  I remained skeptical of our Easter Bunny’s judgement, but off we went.  To be quite honest, my expectations were pretty low.  It’s a fun movie, but could it really be translated to quality theater? I doubted it.

But it was so fun!  The story line was extremely close to the movie, and even though it’s been a while since I’ve watched the movie, some of the lines seemed very, very familiar.  If you haven’t seen the movie, a wanna-be rock star, Dewey Finn, pretends to be a teacher and takes over a class at an elite prep school.  Once he figures out the kids have musical talent, he scraps all academics and begins preparing them for a Battle of the Bands competition.  Over the course of the show, they all help each other grow and the kids feel more understood by their parents.  Awwwww.  The songs from the movie are in the play, as well as some additional songs.  I often don’t love songs that get added for the plays, but in this case I enjoyed them all.

The kids in the play were INCREDIBLY talented.  Like, above and beyond talented.  The kids were great singers and amazing musicians.  And the girl the played Tomika- holy cow!  That girl is going places!  The adult playing Dewey had played the role on the West End, and he was fantastic.  He did a good job keeping the character very consistent with the movie without it feeling like a copy of Jack Black.

The set was very dynamic with very frequent changes, moving us from the school, to an apartment, to a bar, to a music competition.  It’s all done quickly and seamlessly.  The transition from play to “concert” is fun, too.  The music and cast were so fantastic, it often did feel like a real concert.  You could feel the energy in the audience as they cheered a clapped along.

There is some swearing in the show, and there is rudeness from both adults and kids.  Nothing that I would say is worse than what is in the movie.

Overall the show was a hit with all of us.  Chicken walked out saying “I love that play!  I want to see it again.”  She’s been singing the songs and asking to watch the movie.

Clearly our Easter Bunny is a genius.  Can’t wait to see what she brings next year!


What it’s not: completely clean language (there’s a handful of profane words sprinkled throughout), perfect adult role models,

What it is: an incredibly talented cast, high energy, great music, fun, probably best for at least upper elementary school students and older, fast paced, loud, full of laugh-out-loud moments

The Portland showing wraps up at the Keller this weekend.  If you can fit it in to your holiday weekend, you can grab tickets here:






Jason and the Argonauts- Oregon Children’s Theatre


When I first read about Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Jason and the Argonauts play, I had reservations.  Serious ones.  When it came time to renew our subscription, I read the brief summary provided which indicated that two adult men were going to use action figures and paper boats to reenact the classic tale.  Immediately, visions of creepy guys who make you want to run a background check  playing with G.I Joes on YouTube popped into my mind.  I debated whether this was one we really needed to see.  But, Oregon Children’s Theatre has never let us down and I as I have nothing but faith in their judgement and production capabilities, I put our theater fate in their hands and bought the tickets.

This weekend, it was time to find out what we had gotten ourselves into.  When I attempted to explain the play to the kiddos, Chicken simply raised her eyebrows, gave me a skeptical look, and carried on with her business.  Apparently not my best sales pitch.  Nugget, however, was immediately on board.  “You mean they’re going to play with Star Wars toys?  Cool!!”  Not quite, I told him, but all he cared about was that he was going to see someone play with toys.  Whatever floats your boat, buddy.

We left early enough to stop and have a treat at the Starbucks near theater.  If you read this blog, you will notice a theme here.  Things always go better when mom is caffeinated. Then we headed over to check out the pre-show activities.

This time, the activity was folding paper into a boat.  At least that was the intent.  There were laminated instruction sheet with visual instructions. Apparently we fail in the visual spatial skills department and couldn’t figure it out, so we scrapped that plan and made some more than adequate paper envelopes and airplanes.  We were sufficiently pleased with ourselves.

We then settled into our seats, occupying our time with the word searches found in the program, and I continued questioning my decision to come.  The lights went down, I took a deep breath, and the show began.  And about 30 seconds in we were hooked.

This show is as far from a creepy YouTube video as you can get.  The main characters, Josh and Andy, guide us through our journey, moving flawlessly between the variety of characters they play.  As Josh and Andy, they are charming, endearing, hilarious, and I walked away kind of wanting to invite them for a play date.  They take turns playing Jason, Hercules, argonauts, princesses, kings, old men, and a range of other characters and each character is distinct due to their impressive talent.  The action figures are used to perfection, mirroring the movements of the actors and vice versa.  The toys add humor, interest, and really function as supporting cast members.

Any time the play becomes a bit intense, possibly scary for littles, or goes down the path of the classic tale long enough that the younger patrons become a bit wiggly, humor is inserted at the perfect time to re-engage even the youngest viewers.   The show was so well done, you could feel the mood shifting in the auditorium as the actors moved between characters and the tone changed.  You rarely have a perfectly silent auditorium at a children’s theater, when children honor the silent pauses that hold emotion created by the actors, but this happened several times and audience members were captivated by what was happening on stage.  A noteworthy feat.

Nugget was delighted each time Spiderman made an appearance (no, he’s not in the original version), Chicken lost it when a modified version of the theme song from Titanic was sung, Nugget cheered during the sword fights, and they both sat open mouthed when a wind machine was used to blow up an inflatable tail that was attached one of the actors in order to turn him into a monster.

The lighting is beautiful and enhanced a simple but creatively functional set.  What initially appears to be a simple wooden cart transforms into a giant paper boat, a king’s throne, and later comes apart to become two pieces of set.  A wooden box functions as a toy box, prop holder, seat, and ship anchor.

I think the recommended age of 7 and up is about right.  Nugget didn’t really follow the complete story line (his summary was “it’s two guys looking for a really cool coat”), but he laughed and can’t stop talking about how funny it was.  Chicken tends to be a pretty serious theater goer and isn’t known for having strong reactions during the actual shows, although she usually has plenty to say afterwards.  This time, I heard her laugh out loud over and over again, sometimes even throwing her head back.  It was really fun to see.  She leaned over more than once to whisper “this is so good!”  Nugget clapped enthusiastically at the end, and he is definitely not one to applaud if he does not mean it.  Then he couldn’t get out of the theater fast enough to go meet the cast.

Possibly due to having only two cast members and/or the smaller audience size (it’s held in the Winningstad which has a lower seating capacity), the actors took time to chat with each child longer than I have found is typical there.  They asked each child about their favorite part, and provided a response to the child’s answer.  They were nice when Nugget asked them each to sign his program in three specific spots (the cover, their picture, and the word search), and briefly talked Timbers with him when they noticed his Timbers gear.  One even tried to prove that his beard was real when Nugget asked why he didn’t have a beard in the advertising materials.

Overall, this was definitely our favorite show of the season so far and is for sure in the top three that we have seen there.  If you are going to take your kiddo to one show this season, take them to this one.


What it is: hilarious, smart, engaging, an incredibly talented cast, a perfect length for younger viewers (about 70 minutes) but probably best for those 6 or 7 and up, creative, sassy, suspenseful, silly, a simple but effective set, a play you should definitely go see

What it’s not: a fully accessible storyline for very young children (they will likely still find it funny, though)

Do we recommend it?  A million percent yes!  Go!  Go now!

The show is running until May 19th.  Grab your tickets here:

If you can’t make this show (but you really must try), Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly is up next.  Next season will begin in the fall, and they will be doing Dragons Love Tacos!  We are so excited!



Tenali- Northwest Children’s Theater

For the past few years, Northwest Children’s Theater has collaborated with Anita Menon’s Anjali School of Dance to create beautiful works of theater and dance.  Anjali’s School of Dance focuses on traditional South Indian dance and her students are amazingly talented.  Their collaboration has resulted in numerous awards and full theater audiences.  Their show last year, Chitra, was gorgeous and we were really looking forward to seeing what they came up with this year.

This year it was Tenali, the story of a minister to the king who wreaks havoc by not doing his job; in this case he fails to protect the king’s favorite crown.   The show begins with an impressive procession of dancers leading the king to his place on the stage.  Beautiful dancing ensues before introducing us to the characters and the plot.  There is a lot of humor, and Chicken was definitely amused.

While Tenali was the title character and the actor has a great stage presence, it was three other ministers who stole the show.  The minister of spies, a bumbling police officer type, is played by one of our favorite NWCT actors and brings his trademark humor and fun to the role.  The minister of art has boundless energy, does some pretty impressive acrobatics, and fills the stage with his smile and enthusiasm.  The royal accountant, armed with his trusty abacus, manages to get all of his calculations wrong despite his best and most earnest efforts.  I feel his pain.

This production uses an extended stage, and we love it every time they make this choice.  In this case, it was amazing to see the individuals playing the music and I was astonished to see a single woman do the majority of singing to such a perfect degree I initially thought it was pre-recorded music.

The show itself is colorful, fast-paced, energetic, and action packed.  The long dance number at the end which incorporates a bit of audience participation is something the behold.  The costumes are stunning and the dancing really is incredible.  This style of dancing is so articulated, from the intricate and specific placement of fingers to the intentional use of eye gaze.  It is all so precise and yet graceful and dynamic.  The years of training, dedication, and passion clearly comes through.

As always, the cast members were fantastic with the kids during the meet and greet after the show.  And as always, Nugget refused to talk to any of the girls.  One actually tried to get his attention and talk to him and he put his hand to his neck and whispered “I have a sore throat” and continued on his merry way.  Still working on that one.  But the cast members he did talk to answered all of his random questions, from “what is the paint on your head for?” to “why did you do a flip?,” and my favorite, “what is your favorite kind of cheese?”  Because that is important to know about a person.  They were beyond gracious as he began organizing his own photo shoots, gathering his favorite characters and suggesting they do serious faces or silly faces.  To his credit, they really did turn out to be my favorite pictures of the day!  Because the hand movements are so specific during the dancing, Nugget apparently interpreted this as sign language and proudly showed off his minimal knowledge of signing.  The cast members were lovely and played right along.


What it is: Relatively short (70ish minutes), making it perfect for a younger child, colorful, full of amazing dancing, funny, a bit of a convoluted story that may be a bit confusing for young children to follow, a bit of audience involvement at the end, inclusive of beautiful music children can intuitively find the beat of, family friendly, based on a real person (who knew?!?) who continues to be present in Indian popular culture

What it’s not: A story familiar to most children not exposed to East Indian stories

Do we recommend it? Yeperoozers!  And definitely take advantage of the meet and greet!

The show is running through May 12th.  You can find more information and buy tickets here:

And if you can’t make it to this show, this amazing collaboration with bring the return of The Jungle Book next season!


Legend of Rock, Paper, and Scissors- Oregon Children’s Theater

Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!  Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!  The classic game that has solved many a childhood problem, and perhaps some adulthood ones too, has become a musical!

Our trip to the theater this weekend was extra fun because we brought along one of Nugget’s friends from Kindergarten.  It was the second time this little had been to the theater (the first being a field trip earlier this school year), and it was fun to see the magic fresh through his eyes.

Both boys had been on a daily countdown for their theater date for a couple of weeks.  At home, we read the book again to get ready.  We ate dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.  We wondered how the battles would go.  We were ready!  So, it turns out, was our little friend.  When his mom sent a picture that morning of our friend sitting on a chair staring out the window waiting for us to arrive, we kicked into high gear and got there early so we could all go for hot chocolate.

So into the car we all piled, with Chicken taking on the role of caregiver and theater expert for both boys.  She explained to our friend how it all works, asked if he would like to participate in the pre-show activities, and wondered if he would like to get his program signed after the show.  Chicken and Nugget were both thrilled when he said yes to all of the above.

Getting there so early meant we got a prime parking spot.  Yay!  We walked around the corner to the closest Starbucks and chit chatted as we enjoyed our drinks.  Then we made sure not to step on any lines on our way back to the theater- wouldn’t want to get electrocuted so close to show time!

The preshow activity for this play was a coloring and writing activity.  There were coloring sheets and fresh crayons (fresh crayons are a big deal in kid land) for each Rock, Paper, and Scissors.  There was also writing prompt paper kids could use to create their own stories.  All of the kiddos did a great job coloring and we smartly carried our papers into the theater with us. Once seated, they of course had play the Rock, Paper, Scissors game, complete with a referee for any questionable calls.  When the lights went down, the kids were so ready!

The play has a set up reminiscent of a wrestling match.  There is a narrator who introduces our heros- and frequently gets interrupted by Rock.  The narrator provides us with background information and builds the excitement for the various battles in a way that reminded me of a circus ringleader- in a good way.  The audience was encouraged to cheer for the characters and those in the front row got running high fives from some of the cast.  The boys decided to wave their papers for their favorite characters, just like waving a fan sign at a sporting event.  We were in the back row of the orchestra, so it was a great way for them to get engaged without blocking anyone else’s view.

Each main character has a battle or two with opponents from their realm, only to find themselves insufficiently challenged.  At the end, they all battle each other and find they win some and lose some, and that is okay!  It’s definitely a play with a good message.

The songs were long and a bit repetitive and the set was not at the same level of amazingness I have come to appreciate at Oregon Children’s Theater.  But I did love the incorporation of a variety of styles of music.  Each character had a style associated with them.   Rock (guess who that was for), jazzy/bluesy music for Paper, and a bit of salsa flair for Scissors.  The boys were bopping along to the rock and jazz, while Chicken was swaying in her seat to the salsa.  Scissors also incorporated a bit of Spanish, and all of the kids I had with me speak Spanish to varying degrees.  The actor playing the narrator was fun and fantastic.  Although the peach was only on stage for a few minutes, he was hilarious and full of sass- definitely one of our favorite characters.

What it it: Kid friendly, funny, including of a variety of music, engaging of the audience, based on a fun children’s book and true to that story, nonviolent despite the concept of the battles

What it is not: the best set we’ve seen at this theater

Do we recommend it:  Yes!  Especially with hot chocolate and extra especially if your child is a fan of the book


Spring and Summer Activities, Theater

Aladdin- the Broadway Musical- updated April 8, 2019

Aladdin is coming to town!!  Yay!!  Aladdin the Broadway musical is on a national tour for at least the second you in a row.  If your kiddos are fans of the movie, it is a must see.

The show was in Seattle last year, and we took a day trip up there just in case it wasn’t going to make it to our area.  And this year we will be seeing it here as well!

The musical follows the story of the Disney movie pretty closely.  All your favorite songs are included, complete with bright, glittering sets.  Aladdin is a bit more angsty, and has a couple solos about how he hopes his parents are proud of him.  Um, he’s a thief.  But a sweet and adorable thief.

And Disney must not have been able to find incredibly well trained animals who they could guarantee wouldn’t “let it go” on the middle of the stage.  Abu is turned into two of Aladdin’s human friends who provide quite a bit of levity.  Raja becomes Jasmine’s girlfriends, and honestly I didn’t feel like they added much.  Iago also becomes a man- although somehow Nugget walked away with the impression he was Jafar’s wife.  His mind must have taken some interesting detours.

We saw the show when Adam Jacobs was in the title role- he originated Aladdin on Broadway.  It was pretty cool to see the original actor and recognize the voice from the soundtrack we had been listening to.  He is no longer playing Aladdin, but I’m sure the new actor will be fantastic, too.

The costumes in this show are gorgeous and colorful.  There is so much to look at and be amazed by.  The cave of wonders is very well done, and the stage is covered in golden treasure.  The dancing is fantastic and the whole show is so high energy.  It’s kind of like a multicolored singing glitter bomb going off on stage for 2 plus hours.  In a good way.

The kids both loved it. Although Nugget was very concerned that we saw so much of Jasmine’s belly button.  He didn’t feel like that was appropriate.  Or the kissing.  Chicken reveled in following him around saying “belly button, belly button, kiss, kiss, kiss” for several week.  Actually, she still does it sometimes and he still curls up into the fetal position.  So there’s that.  But he was entranced by the flying carpet.  He knows there should be ropes holding it up, but since we couldn’t see them he is sure there must be some actual magic involved.  Chicken still occasionally bursts into “High Adventure”- one of the new songs that was one of our favorite parts of the play.

I wouldn’t say this is one of the meatier or best acted Broadway tours.  But it sure is fun.  If you are looking for an afternoon of color, dance, humor, and Disney joy, this show is definitely for you.  Run and get your tickets now!

If you are interested in going to Aladdin while it is in town this March and April, you can find them at

And yes- Frozen is coming!  Eek!


UPDATE:  We saw this show in Portland for the second time on April 6, 2019.  It was even better than last time!  Even accounting for the fact that we didn’t have to drive three hours each way, we enjoyed the show even more.  Three actors are now portraying Genie, and we lucked out by seeing Major Attaway in the role, who has previously played Genie on Broadway.  He was out of this world!  We also preferred this year’s Aladdin and Jasmine- they had better chemistry and Jasmine was just a touch sassier in a way we loved.  I think Aladdin’s three friends were perhaps a bit stronger last year, but these actors were also fantastic.

We had slightly better seats this time and it really made a difference in how much we noticed the sparkle that is all over the stage and costumes, as well as all the small details that are part of the set.  Chicken and Nugget both giggled more this time and overall we had a fantastic time.

So, my assertion still stands- if Aladdin comes on tour to your area and you have little fans at home, it it totally worth a family date night!

Adventure Box, Holiday, Theater

Wizard of Oz- Portland Panto Players

Portland Panto Players. Oh my! This was one of the first “tickets” the kiddos found in their new Christmas Mailbox. Portland Panto Players is a group that formed in 2017 to perform panto plays around the holidays. If you are new to pantos, like me, here is the scoop. (Thank you, Google!) Apparently Brits have developed this style of theater and it is a typical holiday family outing. A traditional panto takes a well known story, in this case Wizard of Oz, and tweaks it. Like, a lot. Every panto has a villian, a dame (an older female character played by a man), and incorporates modern music, pop culture references, adds new characters, and takes liberties with the story line.

In this case, Auntie was played by a man with a beard parted into pigtails. Beardtails? I don’t know. The flying monkeys rapped Ice, Ice, Baby. For reals. Glenda sang Popular (yay!), and Dorothy’s sister Hannah sang a line from Book of Mormon when knocking on the Wicked Witch’s door. We Are Family and The Lion Sleeps Tonight also made enthusiastic appearances. The Tin Man was still in search of his heart, but had been gifted a pair of silver balls on a string that he was told was his dingaling. Which resulted in the cast singing about how they want to play with My Dingaling. Yes, you read that right.

There is a lot more audience interaction than is typical of theater, which was a lot of fun. Characters spoke directly to audience members and incorporated the comments little kids couldn’t keep inside. You are encouraged to boo the villain (which Nugget did with gusto) and shout out warnings to the cast when the bad guys are approaching. Humor was over the top and very heavy on the puns. The set was simple but effective, and a video screen with prerecorded pieces was used when certain staging couldn’t be accomplished. The cast was clearly having fun and were decent singers and actors, although not necessarily professional caliber. Most of it was family friendly even if the humor went over the kids’ heads a lot of the time. There was plenty of funny in there for them, too. Depending on your sense of humor and propriety, the whole Dingaling song could have crossed a line for some. Chicken and Nugget knew they were missing out on something critical and spent a good bit of time this afternoon discussing what exactly it could be referring to.

I can honestly say I have never been to anything quite like it. Did I like it? I have no idea. I want to say no, but I laughed out loud multiple times so I must have, right?

Chicken loved it and said she would go to every single one they ever do. Nugget was a bit gobsmacked. I’m not sure he knows what just happened to him. I am pretty much in his camp.

Portland Panto Players indicated they are aiming to make this a yearly tradition and they are planning on putting on a 2019 show. Will we be there? Maybe. We will see how the mood strikes us and what else we have going on.

Tickets ran $8 to $12. More information on their shows and panto in general can be found here: