Monday, November 28, 2011

The Magical Shrek the Musical

So we watched the much awaited and a packed show of Shrek the Musical at Rosemont Theater. If I was to describe it in one single phrase, it would be magical. I watched a musical of this magnitude after a really long time I thought to myself during the show. But it was indeed fascinating. Be it the hotheadedness yet the basic goodness of the heavily costumed and made up ogre Shrek or the great comedic skills and the charm of Princess Fiona, the goofy and extremely lovable Donkey or the selfish yet delightfully shortened Lord Farquaad, it was an engaging and very well crafted show. The beautiful sets just merged into each other very naturally and effortlessly like the pages of a fairy tale book. With just a drop of a curtain, the lovely woods magically transformed into the menacing castle of Lord Farquaad to next change into the dragon guarded tower where in lay Princess Fiona. The music was upbeat with the best songs for me being the ones with the feisty Princess Feona. She was nothing short of a riot  as she danced and sang and joked with amazing facial expressions in 'Morning Person' and the sequence where she engaged in a competition of burps and farts with Shrek in 'I got you beat!' Another high point of the show was the incredible dragon that was a combination of a really big puppet manually operated by 8 people in a horse style!

It played for only one weekend, the one following Thanksgiving here in Rosemont, IL. However, check out this link to see if its coming close to you and do grab the chance to watch it if it is.

For all the technical details on the star cast and the very impressive and accolades winning creative team, read on!

SHREK THE MUSICAL tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim the deed to his land. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren't only found in fairy tales.

The role of everyone's favorite swamp-dwelling ogre, Shrek will be played by Lukas Poost.  Liz Shivener will play the feisty Princess Fiona.  Andr‚ Jordan is Shrek's lovably annoying best friend Donkey and Merritt David Janes plays the vertically challenged villain Lord Farquaad.

Rounding out the cast of misfit fairy tale characters, the peoples of Duloc and Far, Far Away are:  Willie Dee, Annie Fitch, Susan Leilani Gearou, Kelly Teal Goyette, Alexa Kerner, Rachel Khutorsky, Schuyler Midgett, Lyonel Reneau, Adam Steiner, Erin Sullivan, Chase Todd, Sarah Tranchina, Nadia Vynnytsky, Ryan Everett Wood, Chris Woods, Luke Yellin, Ian Frazier, Mara Gabrielle, Ryan Rubek and Laura Smith.

SHREK THE MUSICAL features a book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize(r) winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Good People), music by Olivier Award-winner Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie,  Caroline, or Change).  SHREK THE MUSICAL is directed by Stephen Sposito who recently served as Associated Director of the current Broadway revival How To Succeed In Business starring Daniel Radcliff.  Sets and costumes are based on the Tony Award(r) winner designs by Tim Hatley (Private Lives, Spamalot)  and Chris Bailey will recreate the original choreography by Josh Prince (The Bridge Project, The Jerry Springer Opera).

 SHREK THE MUSICAL was initiated when Sam Mendes, a big fan of the first Shrek film, suggested the idea of creating a musical to DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg around the time the second film was in production. The musical is produced by NETworks Presentations, LLC.

NETworks Presentations, LLC (Producer) was founded in 1995 by Kenneth Gentry, Seth Wenig and Scott Jackson. NETworks has produced and managed over 80 national and international touring productions. Previous productions: Little Women starring Maureen McGovern; Cinderella starring Eartha Kitt and Deborah Gibson; Fosse starring Ben Vereen and Ruthie Henshall; The Light in the Piazza; My Fair Lady co-produced with Cameron Mackintosh; Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!; Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake; Annie; Hairspray; The Wizard of Oz, Handel's Messiah Rocks, Spring Awakening, A Chorus Line and many others. Joining returning productions of Disney's Beauty and the Beast; Young Frankenstein; Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, based on Lincoln Center Theater Production; Blue Man Group National Tour and The New 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Mis‚rables this season are Shrek The Musical, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins and Lincoln Center Theater production of War Horse touring the U.S.

The kid speaketh

I was going through some of the posts I had written much earlier about the interesting, often funny things the kids came up with - phrases, conversations. I had loads of them, especially of Niño. And realized its been a while I did that here. Mostly its because of fb. I usually put a status update of the hilarious things they say and am done, its easy to have a conversation with friends who have had similar experiences with their kids and share a laugh. Its fun and convenient. However its difficult to go through them all at one place which is why I also decided to put them here for laughs for myself later when I need them :)

So Niño had his KG show today and I threatened him to let me set his hair sideways instead of the usual silly way where he likes to have them falling on his forehead and I try to convince him further by getting Chica on my side and ask her "Bhaiya looks nice with his hair on the side, no?" and she goes "Bhaiya looks nice ALWAYS!"
These two are soon going to gang up on me and throw me out of the house, I tell you!!


We took the kids to a Japanese festival outside a Japanese Supermarket this Saturday. Out of all the things, guess what Niño found to write about in his journal ...

I went to the Japanese market. I saw a toilet seat there. There were buttons for washing the front and back of the bottom and a button for drying it too.

He also wanted to write 'It was really cool' but ran out of space.

Ever since he has been asking us to either get one for him or take him to Japan for a vacation.

For those interested to take a look at the toilet seat reigning supreme in his heart and mind these days, follow the link


So these are the kids' current radical thoughts on marriage:

Chica: Mamma, can I marry bhaiya (Niño) when I grow up? I love him so much. That ways I'll be able to stay with him forever.


Niño: Mom, I want to marry N!
Me: The two of you are enough for me! I can't have another child in the house!
Niño: Lets marry Chica off and she can go stay with her husband and then I can marry N and bring her to stay here.


So the kids were duly told the story of Ravan taking away Sita and the battle that followed and Niño's reaction is "So Sri Lanka 'bothered' India once upon a time?" Now does anybody else see a politician in the making ?!


So the little miss garrulous asks me the meaning of 'might' and 'how about' with examples. And then proceeds to give some of her own.
"Mom, I might love you next week!" I make a sad face to give her a chance to rectify things to which she adds, "How about next year?"


And finally for those of you who understand Hindi, my daily dose of laughs from Niño's वाक्य बनाओ

बारिश - बारिश पढ़ रही है.

पैसे - पैसे जमा मत करवाओ. iPad लेने के लिए अपने पास रखो.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Lillstreet Art Center Clay Workshop

 A couple of weeks back I had written about the workshop on making ceramic ornaments to decorate our tree or give as stocking stuffers, we were to attend at the Lillstreet Art Center. We went for the same this past Sunday and it was such a hit with kids and extremely relaxing and fun for me and my husband as well. I'll first walk you through some pictures and then tell you a little more about the place.

 First we pounded the clay and threw it and pounded and threw to make a slab big and thin. This in itself was such a fascinating process for both the kids.
 Then we used several cookie cutters to cut out interesting shapes - stars, leaves, snowmen, hearts, gingerbread man. The kids found it hard to stop at a three dozen cut outs at this step.
 Then we painted the ornaments we had cut out, made some textures with pointed sticks or blocks and made a hole on top to string through later.

These are now ready to be bisque fired and the Lillstreet people will call us back to pick them up when they are ready.

It was a great experience and two hours passed by so fast. Chica, my 4 year old wanted to stay there longer and keep doing more. Fortunately, I was able to whisk her out of the room to show her the other interesting things happening in other parts of the art center. This was the first one we went to - it looked, smelled and felt very different from any other place we have been to. There were so many pots, paints, sculptures, bowls, plates and the likes lying around on many many shelves. All the people there, mostly artists working on different things seemed very relaxed and very friendly stopping by in the room that we were working in, when they came there to pick something they needed, and encouraging the children at the great job they were doing. And all the children in the workshop - 2 of mine and 2 more worked so neatly and with such rapt attention, it was lovely to watch them. The kids on their way out watched in such fascination a lady working on a potter's wheel. My son remarked, "Oh! So that's how a pot gets made!" I love remarks like these when kids realize something they had used regularly but never lent a thought to, now know where it comes from :)

I had linked to the various workshops that the Lillstreet people offer for kids as well as adults. Some of them are scheduled on Saturdays and are just $10 a person. The center is well worth a visit for an experience which is not easily available at home.

We now can't wait to collect them from the Art Center in a couple of weeks!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Holiday Lights Tour!

I have said this before many times and I say it yet again that I have been loving Chicago city for a a variety of experiences it has to offer. Who wouldn't love to have something different to do and enjoy the new experiences every few days. So the next experience I am really looking forward to is the Holiday Lights Tour! I love this time of the year in the US when the festivities begin, the streets and stores are all lit up, beautiful and brilliant, people look cheerful enjoying the festivities, walking the streets with shopping bags in hands and am truly excited to watch all this on a special Holiday Lights Tour!

Chicago's version of a caroling sleigh ride will whisk passengers amongst the festive lights and enchanting sights of wintertime in Chicago, including the twinkling lights of the Magnificent Mile, State Street & Macy's Holiday Windows, Daley Plaza's 40-foot tree, the John Hancock Plaza tree, Navy Pier's Winter Wonderfest, Buckingham Fountain, Christkindlmarket and more. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are only available online at Tickets have been on sale since Nov. 1. 

The "Holiday Lights Tour" is a lightly narrated 2-hour tour showcasing the best of Chicago's holiday lights and sights, with stops at two brilliantly illuminated holiday attractions. Passengers will have time to hop off at both the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo and the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German American Holiday Market with distinctive crafts, artistic glass ornaments, delicious sweets, holiday food and drinks, along the way. All ages can enjoy this warm, cozy experience, see the highlights of Chicago's holiday cheer and might even be inspired to carol with new friends.

The "Holiday Lights Tour" runs on Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 25 - Dec. 23, 2011, with four departure times at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The tour departs from Chicago Water Works Pumping Station located at Michigan Avenue and Pearson Streets across from Water Tower Place. Tours hold 32 passengers each and tickets must be purchased in advance online at

Tickets are $26 for adults and $19 for children (3-11). All ticket holders also receive a coupon featuring free hot chocolate and a York peppermint brownie wedge from The Hershey Store.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Of the things with an 'i'

Its been a struggle raising this 6 year old boy I have for a son. So this time its the fascination with all things 'i', yup the iPhone, iMac, iPod and the iPad. He has been requesting us, begging, pleading, arguing and trying every possible trick in the book to let him have one if not all of those. The more I resist, the more he insists. Their school has iMac's in the Media Center which they go to almost every week, occasionally they get iPads to play some Math games on which is how they rule over his heart and mind on a regular basis.

A couple of weekends back, he asked me what he could do to collect $100 to be able to buy an iPhone at Target, which he had scanned the Sunday paper for fliers to every store to see the cheapest rate for an iPhone. It was my mistake, I realized later, to even let him have the hope that it was even theoretically possible. He earns stickers and ultimately quarters for every desirable behavior and he uses the money he collects to buy little toys he likes. Somehow he concentrated on just the 'reading books' in his rewards chart and we calculated that he needed to read ten thousand books to be able to collect the money. And he believed that he could do it in one day. And boy he read and read and read. He read for close to 3 hours which is a long long time for him and when he saw it getting dark outside, he just panicked and started howling and crying, begging us to let him have it on completing 100 books. Anyways it took a long time and a lot of effort to pacify him.

However some things he said while asking for the phone were eye openers for me. He said that he wanted his things so that he could control when he wanted to use them. He said that often when he wants to call his friend/s home and I call their moms to ask them if they can and then they don't come for some time and then Niño asks me to call them again and I tell him that its rude to call them again and again. If he has his own phone, he would be able to call his friends at his will. He kept on insisting that he would not play games on his gadgets for long at all because he knows they are not good but he likes to see directions to places or the weather and we don't allow him always to do that. Which is when I realized that he felt so strongly about something which I had painted in my eyes as almost black and was thus not allowing him to use it even though he wanted to use it in a good way. Well he asked for A's Samsung Galaxy phone sometimes (once in 2-3 days) and we let him have it for about 5 minutes - he and Chica usually played silly games like the Talking Tom or watched one Tom and Jerry video on youtube. And then when he gave it back to him and suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to check the weather, I was not allowing him to have it back. Which I realized was backfiring now. One incident I mentioned and another one last weekend - we were out with an old friend of A's at a restaurant having lunch and he started urging A to have his phone. Kids are smart and they realize when they can put us in a spot by what kind of behavior making it hard for us to say no. He played for a bit and gave it back and then started asking again because he had forgotten something. It got difficult in that situation to ignore or reason with a whiny 6 year old. He was not completely to blame because the restaurant didn't have any crayons or activity booklets for kids which otherwise both my kids get interested and busy in and there were no other kids to play around it but even then it was a lesson on what to talk to him about when we are going to be in similar situations. And an even bigger lesson to cut him some slack. To remember that each child is different and whether I like it or not, mine is fascinated just with things I wish he wasn't fascinated with and I can't just go on with my everyday life assuming there's no problem to be addressed.

So now A downloaded apps on his phone for Niño on world geography (which he is very interested in) and he himself straightaway goes to that app almost everytime he asks for the phone. I made a journal on the computer for him to work on, write or draw or color in paintbrush about the experiments or projects we do and he feels happy to be working on that medium which is very powerful for him. Often times he goes to the Apple website to admire the several beautiful products and keeps asking us as to when he can have them. I am still not sure what to answer. A has told him that we'll buy a Mac book when he turns 12 and is doing well at school. Till then, we introduce him to interesting features of our good old Dell laptop and he is convinced for now that that too is capable of doing quite a bit :) We entered in a 'Going Green' contest in our local library and he is absolutely sure we will win the prize which is an iPad. Phone, we have told him we'll have a chat about it when he turns 15. Edited to add after noon's comment: These are basically just numbers to distract him. As A says, it can never be a number game with kids. There will come a point where we'll no longer be able to postpone it. And the reason I postpone right now is because one I think what will this 6 year child have to look forward to if he gets his own computer at 6 and two because kids fiddling around with whatever gadgets they have and not even bothering as to what's going around them freaks me out completely. But then I think, may be if he has one, he won't be so obsessed and would talk about things other than those. I don't know, its a tough call, as parenting mostly is!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fun Programs at the Lillstreet Art Center

My kids developed a huge interest in art and most of all in making things in their summer vacations. We worked on quite a few projects together and made crafts from countries around the world as we studied their cultures and festivals. We consider ourselves lucky to be experiencing the culture of a country first hand staying here in the US. As the biggest festival of all Christmas draws near, I learnt of a very interesting workshop at Lillstreet Art Center (through Carol Fox Associates who have been very kind to give me a heads up on a wide variety of extremely interesting events in Chicagoland) on making beautiful ceramic ornaments to decorate your tree or give as special stocking stuffers. I registered our family for the same and we are looking forward to making ornaments ourselves. This workshop is to take place on Nov 20th. I also browsed Lillstreet's website further and learnt of more great classes for kids as well as adults. I particularly liked the Side-by-Side Family Drop-In classes every Saturday which is priced at just $10 a person and are geared towards kids as young as 2 years with an adult. I think its a great way to spend a Saturday all while having so much fun :) Do check out more that they offer here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diwali for moi

I started the bottle fireworks activity and the puffy art one about a week before Diwali so that we could show it to their visiting friends during the week and make cards etc out of the puffy art. The same night, after the kids went to bed, I received a phone call from my dad telling me one of my chachas (his younger brother) had suddenly passed away. It was dreadful to say the least. A person whom you have grown up around and live with in the same house (we stayed in the same house on separate floors), too many memories become a part of you. How he used to come every Tuesday from the mandir to give us boondi prasad, how he many a times just stopped by on his way upstairs to just chat, off late how he brought my kids new coins of different denominations to just keep with them, all flashed before my eyes. I spoke to my chachi and my cousins and of course broke down as they spoke. I spoke to my bua and my dad again in the next few days and broke down again. You feel so far in situations like these and the heart feels heavier on sensing the immediate kin's sorrow. 

However, the Diwali excitement had already taken over the kids. We have many Indian families in the apartment complex that we stay in and the kids had already started planning about bursting fire crackers, an upcoming Diwali get together and the like. I almost was sure of not sharing the news with Niño and Chica, partly because Niño is a pretty sensitive child. Death bothers him a lot. He would have remembered my chacha as M's nana (M is my cousin's son) whom he was very pally with when I visited my parents place and then he would have worried himself silly. Had we been in Delhi, it would have been different. They would have known but there would have been a lot more people to take their mind off the troubling news. For almost a week in the past summer holidays, I don't know how Niño had had this fear of my going away when he gets older and he used to cry at nights. Now the question was what to do about Diwali. I didn't feel the fervor I did till a day back to celebrate but at the same time I couldn't abandon it either. That would mean many many questions especially from the elder one as also displeasure on there not being a good enough reason. So I continued with the preparing the cards and the sweets and the savories to be exchanged with friends. In the mornings when kids were away, I spent some silent moments, spoke with my dad about not feeling very good but still doing all that. He was anyways cool about it. I come from a practical family where loss is mourned, no doubt, but we are encouraged to get back in our regular schedules and try to get over it so as not to disturb the usual routine of things. It helped to hear that from him. However not everyone shares the thought. And so in order to be not judged, I didn't share the news with any of my friends here. I had my reasons for doing what I was! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For SHREK lovers ...


DreamWorks Theatricals and NETworks Presentations, LLC. are pleased to announce that SHREK THE MUSICAL with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori, will play the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N River Road, for one weekend only, Nov. 25 - 27, 2011.  Tickets are available at or all Ticketmaster outlets.

SHREK THE MUSICAL features a book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize(r) winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Good People), music by Olivier Award-winner Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie,  Caroline, or Change).  SHREK THE MUSICAL is directed by Stephen Sposito who recently served as Associated Director of the current Broadway revival How To Succeed In Business starring Daniel Radcliff.  Sets and costumes are based on the Tony Award(r) winner designs by Tim Hatley (Private Lives, Spamalot)  and Chris Bailey will recreate the original choreography by Josh Prince (The Bridge Project, The Jerry Springer Opera).

SHREK THE MUSICAL will play the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road for one weekend only, Nov. 25 - 27, 2011.  Tickets, which range in price from $22.50 - $87.50, are now on sale.  

Performances are Friday, Nov. 25 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 26 at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 27 at 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.  Tickets are also available for purchase at the Rosemont Theatre box office and at all Ticketmaster outlets.  Groups of 10 or more, call GroupTix at 877-447-7849.