Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Ivywild. It was about a guy named Bathhouse John (Jay Torrence) who was a politician and he wanted to open up an amusement park. It was about what happened at the amusement park in these times, the early 1900s. Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink (Ryan Walters) wanted to make amusement parks even though they were terrible people. They liked to use women in the wrong way, meaning like not letting them get to vote and prostitution. And they take money from people who run gambling parlors. Bathhouse John wants to make up for the terrible things he's done by making people have a good time in his amusement park. It is possible, because they do, but it shut down because of a giant snowstorm. The main ideas are how difficult it is to be a nice person but also how easy it can be to be a bad person because Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink wanted to be good people but they weren't succeeding. Hinky Dink wants to go back to Chicago but he wants to stay at the amusement park and so they can still have The Amusement (Tien Doman) because she can't come with them. This play is about how fun is not always simple. It is also about wanting to stay somewhere when you can't.
Warning! Warning! Warning! I am going to use an old way of doing a review. Do not panic. The old way is that I am going to talk about each person in a separate paragraph instead of talking about the different scenes. Thank you for listening to this announcement.
Kurt Chiang played May de Sousa, Little Walt and Marion Drake. I thought that all these characters were very different. I thought he did a great job expressing each one. I felt sorry for May de Sousa because she had such a bad life. I think that Little Walt wants to help his boss Bathhouse John, but he also doesn't like some of the decisions that he is making. I thought that it might have been cool if Little Walt was Walt Disney. He liked elephants a lot; maybe that inspired him for Dumbo. Most of his movies are about princesses and that might have been inspired by his good friend Princess the elephant.
There was an elephant named Princess and she was played by Anthony Courser. She was also a pickpocket. I know that sounds crazy! How can an elephant be a pickpocket? Well, at least now we know what those long trunks are for! Ba-dump-pshh. Princess is also a drunk. Courser was always just the best drunk elephant ever! He is always drunk and he makes his voice sound so high-pitched and drunk. And also his outfit (by Alison Siple) was supposed to look like a princess, but it looked like a dress that was a hundred years old, and it looked pretty cool that way. He is supposed to be a princess who is drunk.
The main character was Bathhouse John and he was the owner of the Amusement park. I thought it was funny how he wore these big yellow shoes. The yellow shoes told us that he's not embarrassed about wearing funny outfits. I think that he thinks he is being awesome and funny. He was kind of the bad guy and also kind of the good guy. He was the good guy because people like the main character because they know about him more and he was the bad guy because he did a lot of bad things but he tried to make up for the bad things he did and that made him kind of a good guy. His smile was kind of uncomfortable. And you kind of felt sorry for him but you also thought he should feel like this because he did all these horrible things.
Bathhouse John's best friend was named Hinky Dink. I really like the name Hinky Dink because it was funny but also kind of cool. He was also kind of a good guy and kind of a bad guy, kind of like Bathhouse John. He wants to be a hero and he wants everybody to like him; he wanted to go back to Chicago where he could get more medals. He is trying to help Bathhouse John because he thinks it is better to go back to Chicago, but it is actually kind of not. I think that they were in love. I think they had kind of a mixed relationship. I think that Bathhouse John was kind of also in love with The Amusement.
There was a character that was called The Amusement or The Muse. The Amusement was represented by a girl with tuberculosis. You know she had tuberculosis because her dress was bloody and she coughed into handkerchiefs and blood came out. She was kind of supposed to be the amusement park but she was also kind of the prostitutes who had tuberculosis. I think that they had this character in the play because she was supposed to represent how the amusement park had been shut down and how when spring and summer came she would come back to life. I think she is having a good time when it is summer and spring and the amusement park would be open. But when winter come she dies again; for two seasons she is alive and for two seasons she is dead. I think that they made The Amusement sick because the amusement park kind of was sick. I found it scary but I did think it was important to have The Amusement.
I thought that the set by Lizzie Bracken was very important to the play. The set made me feel like I was in a real old-fashioned amusement park. There is a tunnel of love and the top and the bottom of a merry-round with two little swings on it. The swings I thought were a great touch because they were so cute but they also looked like one of those swing rides like at Navy Pier. I really liked the amazing little amusement park rides by Dan Rumney that come down at the end. You should look out for them because they are awesome.
I actually got to participate in the show! If you like acting, then you should put on a dress or a hat--not just any dress or hat, the ones on the seats, if they aren't taken yet. They they will take you on one of the rides. Just so you know, do not wear the hat if you don't like strobe lights or they make you sick. I wore one of the dresses and I got to go on something called "under and over the sea." That was a really fun ride. The roller coster also seemed fun. "Under and over the sea" was really fun because it was trying to be like a real amusement park ride, which it was--only this time you could kind of see the hand that was holding whatever you were looking at. After each ride, you get a prize. I got a pickle that was half-way eaten. I had a few nibbles. And I also got some soda which I thought was the best prize of all. For some reason there was the hat seat that was open and somebody that worked on the show came up to two audience members and said you can wear this hat for the show and then you get to participate in it. But then they just glared at her. What is so horrible about getting to participate in a show? Some people just want to watch the show, but I just don't really understand it. You should participate because it is a-w-e-s-o-m-e!
People who would like this show are people who like amusement parks, yellow shoes, and pickles. People should go see this show because it is funny, sad, and lets you go on amusement park rides. I don't think you should take little kids to this one, because it is kind of scary.
Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis