January 18, 2024 at 1:10pm
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Article by Elena Ferrarin
Northbrook Park District
“It’s OK to be different” is the theme that kicks off this year’s first production by the Northbrook Park District’s Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences.
“Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience,” based on the picture book by the popular cartoonist and children’s author Mo Willems, runs January 27 to February 11. The show tells the story of the endearing mole rat Wilbur, who discovers he’d much rather wear stylish clothing than run around naked like all his buddies. The audience’s suggested age is 3 and up.
“We always try to impart a good message to our young audiences, and this is about expressing yourself and being comfortable with being different,” said Northbrook Park District Visual and Performing Arts Manager Drew Kambach. “In fact, it’s a wonderful message at any age.”
Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences (NTYA) already has staged two musicals based on Willem’s books: “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” and “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”. “The writing is always high quality, and both previous shows had a great reception. We wanted to continue that vein, and we think our audiences are going to love this, too,” Kambach said.
Each year, NTYA presents a carefully curated lineup of productions with professional staging and performers whose goal is to introduce little ones to the magic of the live theatergoing experience in an engaging and age-appropriate way.
“For a lot of our audiences, we are their first exposure to the theater, and we are tapping into that even more with our ‘Theater for the Very Young’ performances, which we’ve been offering since last year” Kambach said. “We want to keep expanding our scope so we can continue captivating the interest of our community and inspiring them to make theater a lifelong passion — or even a career. That is the vision.”
The theater is located inside the park district’s Leisure Center, 3323 Walters Avenue in Northbrook. NTYA offers weekday and weekend performances with a running time of an hour or less, no intermission. After weekend shows, the actors make an appearance in the theatre lobby for a meet-and-greet with the audience. School booking performances feature a Q&A with the actors following the shows.