Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review of Bud, Not Buddy at Chicago Children's Theatre

Once upon a time I went to show and it was called Bud, Not Buddy.  It was about a boy whose name was Bud (Travis Turner) and he was living in the Great Depression.  He traveled Michigan looking for his father and he also met lots of different amazing people.  It made me understand how hard it was to live in the Great Depression.  It taught you that somebody doesn't have to be your blood family to be kind of your family.  It made me feel lots of different ways. It was very touching;  I even cried at the end.  But it was also sometimes happy.  Sometimes it makes you feel angry, like when the Amoses lock Bud in the shed full of wasps.  And it also is funny, like when he thinks that dried up spit smells great.  This is my favorite play that I've seen at Chicago Children's Theatre because the other things I have seen there are geared more toward younger children. It is good because it is super true to the book and the book is super amazing.

When you go into the theater you will see there is an amazing set by Courtney O' Neill.  There is this giant slanted slide-like walkway that I thought must have been really hard to make, but I thought it was very interesting, especially when they used the car and it looked like they were going down a big hill. There were actually very realistic looking telephone poles,  The walkway and the telephone poles together makes it look like the stage goes up forever.  I think you want to do that because there are a lot of scenes where Bud is traveling around Michigan.  I think the car was really awesome because they didn't have to use a really real looking car but it still felt realistic because it had headlights that actually blinked and the car actually moved.  It was actually three-dimensional.

The music I thought was very awesome and really beautiful as well.  Some of it was jazzy and some of it was sad.  I thought the scene changing music was cool and also how they put one of the band in the back playing their instrument.  In the back there is a drop that different projections could be on, and, when the scene was changing, someone would stand behind it and play their instrument.  The woman who played Miss Thomas (Genevieve VenJohnson) is actually a singer.  The character is supposed to have an amazing voice that Bud is supposed to listen to while he mops.  It wasn't lip-synching; she was actually singing, and it made it even more beautiful.

There are these little intervals where Bud just says, "Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things to Have a Funner Life and Make a Better Liar out of Yourself."  These are in both the book and the play.  In the book, they just put them in the center of the page and say what I just said and have the rule after that.  In the play, somebody dressed in a fancy outfit and did a voice like a game-show host and said, "Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things to Have a Funner Life and Make a Better Liar out of Yourself."  I think it was a good way to call your attention to it, and also a very funny one as well. It wasn't the same person every time.  And sometimes people came out and were about to say it, and then Bud almost said it, and then he didn't say it, so the woman had to run on again and say it after all.  I thought that was really funny.

It is such a moving play that I am even crying a week later.  It is thinking about how Bud lost his mom (Tracey N. Bonner).  I was moved in the book but wasn't exactly sad.  In the play, it makes you sad because you actually get to see the mother.  I think the scene where she read him the books was very touching because he had such a good mom that would read him books at night until he went to sleep. If you go with your mom it is even more sad, but if you go with someone who isn't your mom you might feel better.  Little kids wouldn't understand it as well as older kids, so you could bring little kids who wouldn't understand it as well and they wouldn't be bawling their eyes out.  It is sometimes a good experience to be sad if it is just on a stage.

I thought the scene in the shed was really exciting.  It was also kind of funny because he thought there was a vampire bat (Brian Grey) on the wall.  Then it turned to scary when he smacked it with a rake and it turns into a wasps' nest.  I thought it would have been better if they had had more people come out with more wasps because  8 wasps can't be a wasps' nest.  I thought the Breathers (Tim Blewitt, Mykele Callicutt, and Andre Teamer) were a very cool addition because they represented his breathing because he could only hear his breathing happening because it was so quiet and so scary.

My favorite scene from the play is the one with Deza Malone (McKenzie Chinn) for two reasons.  One, because she is the only kid girl in the play.  And, two, because it is super funny.  I thought that one of the funny parts of the scene was where Bud said, "I had tried kissing myself on the hand before, but I had never kissed a real live girl with blood running through her."  He was super specific about what a girl actually is and that they have blood running through them.  I liked  that Deza thought washing dishes under the moonlight was romantic.  It showed you that she really liked Bud and she really wanted everything to be romantic with him.  I thought it was so funny and cute.

There was this scene where Lefty Lewis (Cedric Mays) was trying to tempt Bud to come out from the bushes where he was hiding because he wanted to help him.  But Bud did not want his cover blown--metaphorically.  Bud is afraid because he thinks Lefty is a vampire.   He shouldn't be afraid of that; he should be afraid of the police and racist people and racist signs because vampires don't actually exist.   I really wish that the scene with Kim, the granddaughter of Lefty Lewis, where she sang the hilarious song "Mommy Says No" was in the play.  I will sing it for you now.  Ahem. "Mommy says no.  Mommy says no.  I listen. You don't. Wahahahaha. The building falls down.  The building falls down. You get crushed. I don't.  Wahahahaha."  I agree with Bud.  That is the funniest and worst song I have ever heard.  I think everybody would have laughed at it in the play.  She is supposed to bow like a princess, which I think would be pretty hilarious.

There was a scene where they were at a restaurant called The Sweet Pea.  It was a very fancy restaurant.  Bud discovers that the band is like his family now.  He cries for two reasons: one, because he is so happy that he has kind of found his family and, two, because everything is so funny.  He has never been to a restaurant in his entire life, which is insane to me.  But this is during the Great Depression, so, of course.  There are a bunch of people he meets in the band, and I will tell you what kind of family member they are each like. Herman E. Calloway (Cedric Young) is like a lonesome and mean grandpa.  Miss Thomas is like a mother to him.  Steady Eddie (Mykele Callicutt) is like a very nice older brother who wants to teach him everything he knows; he gives him a saxophone.  Doo-Doo Bug (Cedric Mays) is like another brother that is a little bit younger than the older brother because he doesn't have the idea of getting him the saxophone; he has the idea of getting the polish.  Doug the Thug (Kamal Angelo Bolden) is like an ornery uncle to him because he teases him a lot and he also is really nice to him. Dirty Deed (Brian Grey) is like another uncle because he helps a lot to give him his name, which I will talk about in the next paragraph.  Mr. Jimmy (Andre Teamer) I would call kind of a father figure because he sets up how Bud is going to travel with the band.  

One of my favorite scenes was where they gave Bud a band name.  I will tell you the name and you will spot the mistake.  Get out your French dictionaries!  They say, let's give him a name.  He slept in super late so Steady Eddie says, "Why don't we call him Sleepy."  And the piano player, Dirty Deed, says "we should let everybody know how skinny he is. " Doo-Doo Bug says, "Why don't we call him The Bone."  Then the rest of the band says, "That's too plain. " (This is the time you should get out your French dictionary.) The band says, "How do you say bone in French?" And then the Thug says, "I think it is la bone." Have you spotted the mistake yet?  Bone is l'os in French and not la bone!  It shows you that they don't really know how to speak any other language and it is funny.  I really like the name Sleepy La Bone because it sounds like other people in the band's names so then he blends in and is part of the band now.  That shows you that he will stay with the band for a long time, and that is very good because they are an awesome band.

People who would like this show are people who like jazz music, love and family, and Sleepy La Bone. People will like this show because it is funny, touching, and teaches you about history in a really awesome way.

Photos: Charles Osgood

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