‘Wake Up, Brother Bear!’ at the Chicago Children’s Theatre is a Play Full of . . . Play!

Indoor Activities

Kids catch butterflies, make a fabric ‘pond’ ripple like a parachute, light up their own firefly flashlights, and more at the Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Wake Up, Brother Bear! The show invites kids to take part in an adventure through the four seasons. Kids sit on a low mat all around the “stage”: a fuzzy green carpet that looks like grass, where Brother Bear and Sister Bear play as Musician Bear fills the air with playful renditions of classic songs on the cello.

Jonah Winston (center) is Brother Bear, Allyce Torres (left) is Sister Bear and Sonia Goldberg (above) is Musician Bear in Wake Up, Brother Bear! Photo by Charles Osgood.

Wake Up, Brother Bear! at the Chicago Children’s Theatre: Our Review

Our thanks to the Chicago Children’s Theatre for providing tickets for this review. All opinions are my own.

Wake Up, Brother Bear! at the Chicago Children’s Theatre is a joyful, playful, and interactive show recommended for ages 0 to 6. I took my 2-year-old and 4-year-old along to check it out.

I was a little nervous about how my 4-year-old would take to the show; he can be nervous about loud noises and unfamiliar people. But he loved it! The performers (Allyce Torres and Jonah Winston, dressed up as big fuzzy bears) do a great job involving the crowd as they play.

Throughout the play, Sister Bear coaches kids through each activity and explains what’s happening. Brother Bear speaks through bear grunts and growls, as well as bits of sign language that the kids can follow along with.

Children light up their firefly flashlights and gaze up at the starry night sky. Photo by Charles Osgood.

Every kid gets a small pouch with a few props to aid the play. This was a really nice tactile element that made it much more approachable for kids. For example, they had a flower in their bags to hold out so a butterfly puppet could land in their outstretched palms. The biggest hit: light-up ‘firefly’ lights the kids could fly in the theatre, which was lit up with a night sky, before laying on the grass to look at the stars. Magic!

Best Ages for for Wake Up, Brother Bear!

As I mentioned earlier, Wake Up, Brother Bear! was designed with kids ages 0 to 6 in mind. It runs a bit shy of an hour and is full of opportunities to get up, play, make noise, and fiddle with props. I think most kids ages 3 and up will love the show. Many kids in the younger crowd will, too, but use your best judgement about whether they’ll enjoy it.

Deciding whether or not the show would be good for your younger kids? I’d think about how they usually react to live performances (even simple ones) and people in costumes. The great part is that kids are not expected to sit still and be quiet for the show! I saw several under-one kiddos having a blast, clapping their hands, and even occasionally laying down on the carpet. (As a parent, it was great to feel relaxed in the theatre!)

My two-year-old, who has never been able to sit through library storytime and is terrified of the Chick-fil-A cow, was predictably not into the show — but thankfully, the lobby was full of themed toys and activities. My husband took him out and they played in a cute little tent. The show played on a monitor so they could still feel a part of the action. It was so nice to have that option!

The lobby play area is also open before and after the show. I’d recommend coming a bit early so that you can get a good spot in the theatre. (Parents sit on a squishy bench behind the kids.)

How to See Wake Up, Brother Bear! at the Chicago Children’s Theatre

Runs Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. through March 1, 2020. Select performances are touch tours, sensory-friendly, ASL, or open caption. For tickets, which start at $20, visit the Chicago Children’s Theatre website or call (312) 374-8835.

Tips for Your Trip

If you’re coming from the west suburbs, the Chicago Children’s Theatre is a great city destination that’s quite easy to get to. Seeing all the trains and skyscrapers on the way in added to all the fun! Plus, parking is free in the theatre’s lot (and there’s free parking nearby if it’s full when you arrive).

There are also tons of amazing places to eat nearby. We checked out Beatrix in Fulton Market for breakfast this time; Little Goat and Monteverde are two other family favorites with an urban edge. A more budget-friendly pick is the famous Lou Mitchell’s diner.

See our Chicagoland Kids’ Fall and Winter Theater Guide for even more great performances!

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