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The Emperor's New Threads: Press

March 23 – April 28, 2013
(No performances Sunday, March 31)
Extended to May 5th!

Illustration by Charles Riffenburg

From the Chicago Reader

March 28, 2013
By Jena Cutie

RECOMMENDED

In Frances Limoncelli's groovy romp through Hans Christian Andersen, an emperor is conned into debuting a hip outfit at his televised birthday bash; allegedly visible only to people with excellent taste, it's his birthday suit in more ways than one. Meanwhile, the fashion-crazed country is going broke because swag don't come cheap. When a young girl determines to convince the emperor to change his priorities, she discovers he isn't any freer than his subjects and that beneath his vanity lies a heart of gold. The cheery tone by no means makes for an air-headed yarn. The new twists are delightful and canny, George Howe's songs are inventive, and Mike Ooi's emperor is Austin Powers with a kid-friendly mojo. The kids were rapt under the spell of kooky costumes and a dreamy set, although not entirely decorous: when the hero asks if she should save the emperor from embarrassment, one boy shouted, "No! Let him go out naked!"




From Chicago Theater Beat

March 26, 2013
By Katy Walsh

3.5 STARS

The Emperor is addicted to clothes. He wants to dress for success. His outfits are over-the-top outrageous. And his Kingdom has caught his fashion fever. Everyone is rocking new and expensive outfits. To keep looking so good, the Emperor has issued a fashion tax. His well-dressed people must work more hours to keep their King and themselves vogue. One Kid has had it with the fashion trends. Her parents spend their days getting stylish. They donít have time for their daughter. So, the Kid decides to pay a visit to the Emperor. She wants to convince him that clothes donít make the man or the Kingdom. On her way to the palace, the Kid gets mixed up in a majestic scam. The Emperorís New Threads: A Fashion Statement is this Springís runway hit!

Adapter and Director Frances Limoncelli cleverly weaves together a tapestry of life lessons: prioritize family quality time, donít be a slave to fashion, heroes shouldnít lie. The kid-friendly messages are one-size-fits-most (ages 3+) understandable. And there are even some adult-size takeaways. Limoncelli tells the story through the bright eyes of Kacy Ann Smith (Kid). Smith is an adorable bundle of pep and determination as she questions authority. Mike Ooi (Emperor) hilariously plays the wardrobe spoiled sovereign. Itís easy to see how the charismatic Ooi could get the Kingdom to follow his lead. Ooi is charming and definitely "His Royal Groovyness." Anthony Kayer and Amanda Roeder skillfully juggle multiple parts and even more wardrobe changes. In particular, Roeder is riotous spoofing Joan and Melissa Rivers on the red carpet. The foursome is a showcase of talent as they zip it up and wear it out.

And in a show about fashion, the costumes are vital. Costume Designer Elizabeth Wislar uses her imagination and innovation for flashy layers of audacity. Although she keeps Smith in a sweet, colorful frock, Wislar piles on the sparkle, curls, and shimmer on everybody else. And she piles it on thick. The apparel spectacle could be Wislarís ode to "What Not to Wear." Wislar sets the trend for fun with her playful creations.

The Emperorís New Threads: A Fashion Statement is the perfect fit for a family outing. The cast keeps the kids and their adults engaged in their interactive wardrobe craze. Itís a sensation! And thatís not all. At noon (in-between shows), the Stories Come Alive Hour gives kids an opportunity to learn more about the Hans Christian Anderson folktale with a game inspired workshop. Looking good, Lifeline, you wear this well!

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