Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile: Press
December 15, 2007 - February 3, 2008
From the Chicago Reader
June 5, 2008
By Jack Helbig
Everything in this remounting of Lifeline Theatre's 2007 hit works, and works well. Christina Calvit's adaptation of Bernard Waber's popular children's book, about a friendly reptile and the family of New Yorkers who adopt him, is faithful--but not slavishly so: it captures the book's playful spirit, while adding lines here and there guaranteed to entertain parents without baffling kids. George Howe's tunes are lively and memorable, the costumes and sets are clever without stealing focus, and the performances are, to an actor, superb. Of course, all my seven-year-old could talk about was David Fink's lovable portrayal of the title character. Now, thanks to him, she thinks all crocs are cuddly.
December 17, 2007
By Joe Stead
Critical Evaluation: **** out of ****
Lyle isn't your everyday, ordinary crocodile. He lives in an urban New York City bathtub, with a family who adores him. He loves to sing and dance, has his own teddy bear to cuddle up with, and subsists on an exclusive diet of Turkish caviar. Yes, everyone loves Lyle, well almost everyone that is. His only real adversary is his next-door neighbor, aptly named Mr. Grumps and his hostile cat Loretta. Mr. Grumps, who's also a manager at Macy's department store, believes that crocodiles are a menace and have no business living in a house at 88th Street. Will the sourpuss neighbor and his less than friendly feline succeed in separating Lyle from his loving family, and when will interfering "grumps" learn to accept people who may be a little different?
That's the question posed by Lifeline Theatre's delightful little musical "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile." If the title doesn't immediately ring a bell, you may remember the illustration of the "soapy crocodile" from the popular children's book by Bernard Waber that inspired Christina Calvit's 1-hour original KidSeries adaptation. As we have come to expect from this intrepid 25-year-old Rogers Park institution, the show is loaded with craft, charm and ample imagination. Jana Anderson's clever costumes help transform actor Tom Jansson into the scaly title character and his three stage companions into a variety of characters needed to tell the story. And Composer/Lyricist George Howe supplies a most genial (albeit pre-recorded) score that compliments the tale.
Of the cast, Danielle Brothers is a particular standout with her knockout voice and comic delivery as the kind and protective Mrs. Primm. But what really makes this show a treat is the heartwarming message passed on to the youngsters. It's okay to be yourself, so don't worry if others don't automatically accept you. Having a big heart is what really counts, and when you show love it will assuredly come back to you. What a wonderful thought to pass on to young audience members this holiday season (or any other for that matter). "Lyle" is a heartwarming musical that is sure to win you over. Following the performance I attended, the audience was treated to a hands-on demonstration of live reptiles by The Chicago Herpetological Society. Be sure to check out their web sites www.chicagoherp.org and www.reptilefest.com and visit Reptile Fest 2008 April 12 and 13. Tell them "Lyle" sent you.
December 17, 2007
By Dennis Mahoney
It's the holiday season. The kids are running roughshod throughout the house, and are already tired of their new toys. Gah! What to do next? Take them out for a toe-tapping good time and see Lifeline Theatre's KidSeries production of "Lyle, Lyle Crocodile." This musical adaptation of the 1965 Bernard Waber book of the same name follows the adventures of Lyle, a Manhattan-dwelling crocodile who lives in a Victorian brownstone with the Primm family.
Gentle as a lamb, and a friend to all, Lyle has discriminating tastes and loves to perform. As the Primms learn, Lyle had a stellar theatrical past, so his new tricks and penchant for going for laughs are merely daily events. Everyone in the neighborhood loves Lyle, yet two shady characters seek to remove Lyle from his comfortable, happy home.
The small cast takes on a variety of characters through quick costume changes and voice inflections; they are all capable singers and can deftly tackle small dance numbers. The changes in character roles may be confusing at first to younger audience members, but soon they'll be able to find the game and keep up with the story. Of note, Danielle Brothers as Mrs. Primm handles her singing parts with great dexterity and would shine equally in a larger venue.
Given the small performance space, Lifeline is able to transform the stage into 1960s Manhattan through a set design taken directly from the original book's illustrations. All scenery changes are handled by the actors without a hitch. As Lyle gets himself into a prickly situation, and becomes tempted to return to his nomadic past, you really want him to get back to his happy home. And with a bit of luck (and trickery), you'll soon see why all neighborhoods could benefit from having a crocodile live up the block.
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