Mo Willems’s 2004 picture book, Knuffle Bunny, spawned a series of spin-offs, including this musical by Willems and Michael Silversher, which marks the inaugural production of Young People’s Theatre of Chicago under founder Randy White’s direction. Trixie (Aissa Guerra), a toddler who hasn’t quite learned to talk in recognizable English (but sure knows how to yell), goes to the laundromat with her dad, where she loses her beloved stuffed rabbit, triggering an emotional meltdown. Can Dad (Sam Shankman) figure out what’s going on? Will Knuffle Bunny be saved? Will your kids be entertained? The answer (spoiler alerts!) in all cases is “yes”—the latter judged by the happy vocal reactions of the kids at the matinee I attended.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical
Through 12/19: Thu-Fri 6:30 PM, Sat 10 AM and 1 PM, Sun 1 PM, Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-404-7336, greenhousetheater.org, $25, $19 under 12.
This production (which features the actors singing to prerecorded music) moves the action from the original’s Park Slope in Brooklyn to Lincoln Park, with cut-out figures on Lauren Nichols’s flexible set suggesting the statues in Oz Park, just down the street from the theater. But there’s more than geographic relatability in this ingratiating show. Tuesdai B. Perry’s choreography and David Wisniewski’s props (particularly a giant version of the title character) capture both the live-in-the-moment joy of Trixie and her parents and the scariness of embarking on the adventure of growing up together when you can’t really tell each other what you need. It’s a solid debut from YPT.