Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – website

Location: The Apollo Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

Phone: 773-935-6100

Performances: Runs February 17-June 28. A full performance schedule is available online.
Monday – 2/20 at 10:30 am
Tuesday – No shows
Wednesday – Shows at 10:15 am and 11:00 am on some Wednesdays
Thursday – Shows at 10:15 am and 11:00 am on some Thursdays
Friday – Shows at 10:15 am on some Fridays
Saturday – 10:30 and 1 pm on some Saturdays
Sunday – 11 am and 1 pm on some Sundays

Admission: $10-$27 (plus $5.25-$8 in Ticketmaster fees per ticket)

Parking: Metered street parking is available, as well as valet-assisted parking on the North side of the building for $11.99.
The Fullerton L stop (Red, Brown, & Purple lines) is only a short walk from the Apollo Theatre.

Bathrooms: The women’s bathroom has a changing table in the handicapped stall. The soap and paper towels are a bit out of reach for kids. There is no changing table in the men’s room.

Nursing: There is no designated nursing area.

Handicapped/stroller accessibility: The Apollo Theatre is upstairs and requires the assistance of an employee to use the handicapped lift. The women’s bathroom is handicapped accessible, but very narrow and would likely be difficult to maneuver. The men’s room is not accessible but has a sign indicating that an employee can assist patrons in gaining access to an accessible bathroom. Handicapped accessible tickets can ONLY be purchased from the box office at 773-935-6100.

Other amenities: Books and souvenirs are available for purchase in the lobby. Each show has a pre-show craft and the actors are available after the show for photos and autographs. Birthday party packages and group rates are available. There are two different programs – one for adults and another for kids. The program for kids includes activities for them to do after the show.

Food: There are refreshments and snacks available in the lobby, including alcohol. There are children’s items, such as small bags of fruit snacks and juice boxes available for $1 each. The Apollo is located in Lincoln Park and is surrounded by restaurants within walking distance.

We paid: $4 for parking at a metered spot. We received complimentary tickets to the show.

Our experience:

We attended the opening day of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This was our first time at the Apollo Theatre and the first time seeing an Emerald City production. We arrived about a half-an-hour before the show and didn’t have a problem finding metered parking within a block of the theatre. Just inside the entrance is a long flight of stairs, so I wouldn’t recommend bringing a stroller if you can avoid it. There is a lift for handicapped accessibility, but an employee must provide assistance.

Before the show started, there was a craft available for the kids to do. They got to decorate shoes with markers and then lace them together with string. Refreshments were available and there were books and souvenirs for sale. The lobby of the theatre is pretty small so it was a bit of a tight squeeze before and after the show. The theatre itself isn’t very large and all the seats seemed to be very good.

During the show, the actors often ran into the audience aisles and there were songs throughout the show. The audience was asked to yell out, “It was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” with Alexander whenever certain music played. Cooper seemed to like that part; Dexter was too young and didn’t play along. The songs were okay; I did like the song about Australia the best, and the actors all wore interesting masks of animals you’d find in Australia while singing.

One thing that I really didn’t like about the show was the part about the dentist. Like in the book, Alexander and his brothers visit the dentist and Alexander is the only one that has a cavity. The dentist in the show has giant instruments and alternates between being nice and doing an evil cackle. Alexander is afraid of the dentist and does some screaming and fighting while his brothers laugh and tease him. Alexander refuses to open his mouth and then the dentist throws him back to do the exam. The exam is over quickly and Alexander is fine (although disappointed by his cavity), but there is a very scary and ominous tone to the dentist.

Older kids might like this part because it’s how they feel about the dentist, but my kids have had limited experiences with the dentist and the experiences they have had were not scary. They don’t know that a lot of people are scared to go to the dentist and I was a little nervous about them seeing this and feeling like the dentist was a bad or scary place.

The show was entertaining and very lively. The boys laughed and seemed to be very entertained. I thought that parts of it were very funny, like the visit to the father’s office. The school parts of the play were a bit sad; the other kids were very mean to Alexander and the teacher wasn’t much better. The theme for the play is fairness with a suggestion to families and activities in the adult playbill to discuss fairness after the show. I think fairness is a great topic, but I thought the bullying was a bit extreme.

I probably would have liked the show a little better if it was a little more interactive for the kids (for instance, when we saw Goodnight Moon there were several set pieces that moved unexpectedly during the show) and if it had a better message to the kids. There was a sweet song at the end to cheer up Alexander, and all the characters appear to make amends with Alexander. I enjoy the book, but I think my interpretation of it was a little different; more of a kid being melodramatic about a really bad day than people actually being mean to him.

Cooper and Dexter seemed to really enjoy the show. They were still for a full hour (a sure sign that they enjoyed it) and told us afterward that they liked it and had fun.

I received complimentary tickets to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. All opinions expressed are my own.

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