Monday, July 21, 2014

Following Alice Down the Rabbit Hole during a Morton Arboretum Theatre-Hike

Getting ready for a walk to Wonderland.
**Disclosure: I thank Theatre-Hikes and The Morton Arboretum for complimentary tickets to the performance. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

"The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday-but never jam today!" Recently, we tumbled down the rabbit hole with Alice and returned with grins on our faces, entirely delighted! Last year, we first learned about Theatre-Hikes while taking in an action-packed version of the Three Musketeers at The Morton Arboretum. This year, we went "mad" when we learned that a production of Alice in Wonderland was slated for this summer! We had to go! On a picture perfect Sunday, we were able to follow Alice and her crew through the trees absorbing nature while laughing and giggling throughout the thoroughly amusing production!

What is Alice thinking? Image courtesy of Theatre-Hikes
Right from our initial introduction to Alice, we were hooked! Madalyn Mattsey was superbly cast as Alice and had the perfect facial expressions and mannerisms to capture this snarky and sweet character! Entirely Alice! All of the cast members were engaging and adeptly created a magical world with surprisingly few props. I was pretty curious about how the cast of 6 would be able to paint pictures of each of the Wonderland residents that we know and love. Their expressions, both verbally and facially, actions and creativity smoothly created Alice's imaginary world for us. While the whole audience thoroughly loved the production, the children were particularly entertained and even interjected comments into the characters' conversations. Adorable! The characters also reached out to the children eliciting ecstatic responses. What a wonderful memory for all of us and a great way to get children involved with theater!


On our way to Wonderland!
The play took place is four peaceful locations in The Morton Arboretum. The sites were a short walk from each other and each walk as well as scene location highlighted a different element of the Arboretum's beauty. During one section of the walk, we walked through a glade of regal pines. Beautiful! Another section was through a prairie with some brilliant blooms! We were on paths the whole time, so no worries about off-roading! The walks were set at a pleasant pace through a gorgeous setting and each scene afforded plenty of time to sit and relax. There were even several families with us that had no issues using strollers on the trails.

Hello, Alice! Image courtesy of Theatre-Hikes
The little extras:
  • Our group leader did an excellent job of keeping the crowd together and directing us.
  • Volunteers traveling with our group brought along bug spray in case anyone forgot. 
  • We were invited to borrow chairs or blankets if we forgot ours.
  • Restrooms are available at the front of the trail. Since the hike starts and ends at the same spot, you can use them before and right after.
  • The first performance of each month is a little shorter than typical hikes and is very suitable for those with walkers, wheelchairs and strollers.
Fun tidbits about Theatre-Hikes:
  • You can bring along snacks for the show. One group brought their own popcorn; another had sandwiches. 
  • Since the actors are not up on a stage, you really feel like you are part of the action. The performance just seem so much more powerful. I love when one of the actors runs in from behind the crowd! You really get wrapped up in the fun!
  • Seeing the kids react was a delight! Their interactions with the characters was priceless!
  • Theatre-Hikes is a nonprofit organization that puts on a fantastic show! (Since Theatre-Hikes is nonprofit, they would love, love, love for you to follow them on Facebook to help them get the word out and keep posted on upcoming performances.)
  • You can truly see the cast is having as much fun as everyone else--really adding to the overall atmosphere!
  • The outdoor setting gives families plenty of space so if the kids need to move around or step away for a moment, they can!
We loved Alice and Wonderland and know that your family would love it, too! This weekend is the last weekend Alice will be at The Morton Arboretum. If you don't catch Alice this coming weekend, there will be some performances at The North Park Village Nature Center and the Pullman State Historic Site the first couple of weekends in August. You can check the Theatre-Hikes website for more information on these performances.

Theatre-Hikes at The Morton Arboretum are held each Saturday and Sunday, July through October with each month featuring a different performance. Performances in July, August and September are at 1PM. In October, performances are at 3PM. In addition October weekends, there will be a performance on Columbus Day {October 13}. Up next for Theatre-Hikes will be the musical You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown running through August. You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown will be slightly different than other theatre-hikes since the play will take place in one location. September brings Enchanted April, a story about four very different women in England in the 1920's who take a trip to Italy. Think: Mom's Afternoon Out! The production is still appropriate for kids if you want to make a family outing! Theatre-Hikes will end their season with Resurrected which brings several spooky Chicago tales to life in in October. Sounds like a great Halloween event to me!

Charlie Brown is coming to town! Image courtesy of Theatre-Hikes
Ticketing information at the Morton Arboretum:

Theatre-Hikes are excellent ways to enjoy a glorious summer day while appreciating theater! Tickets for Arboretum members are $5 per child, $10 per adult. For nonmembers, tickets include Arboretum admission and are $10 per child, $20 per adult. You can find out more about Theatre-Hikes and register for tickets on The Morton Arboretum website.

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