review by Erin Ruff
On Saturday, I got to take my kids to opening day of NW Children’s Theater’s presentation of Roald Dahl’s BFG (Big Friendly Giant), which got three thumbs up from our family.
We were unfamiliar with the story before we went, and we all enjoyed it. The BFG is fun and funny on stilts with giant ears and a rhythmic nonsense vocabulary. Sophie, the orphan girl who befriends the BFG, is kind and confident. The human-eating giants are funny exaggerated caricatures, and the actors who play the giants pull double and triple duty as other characters, including the Queens of England and Sweden, military officers, and palace staff.
There was plenty to love before and after the show, too. It was our first visit to NW Children’s Theater and the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center, and we had bonus fun (and education) admiring the architecture of the theater while we were waiting for the show to start. My kids were both fascinated with the rotunda, arched ceilings, and spiral staircase. During intermission, we all enjoyed a mini treat from St Cupcake (which are available at all Saturday showings). But, the big highlight was meeting all the characters in the lobby after the show, getting pictures with them, and collecting their signatures on our programs.
I asked my kids what their favorite parts were and they both agreed that the BFG’s “whizzpopping” was hilarious (exaggerated flatulence jokes are always winners with my crew). Atticus (5) is sensitive to “scary”, so his other favorite part was when Sophie fought off an attack from one of the monsters by poking him in his giant eyeballs and then tickling him until he ran away. Molly (8) named the post-show meet & greet as the highlight for her. I really appreciated that both the usher and show announcer warned us that “the beginning is a bit scary but it all turns out ok”, and that there would be monsters running up the aisles. My son did fine with those, but may not have without some advanced warning. I also really liked that the costumes for the scary monsters were giant foam giant face “hats” that allow the actors human face to be seen clearly underneath so that my son could see that it was just someone pretending to be a mean giant. After the show, the meanest giant was the one he wanted to meet the most.
Knowing that logistics can make a huge difference in whether a family outing ends in smiles or tears, I’ll offer a couple of tips for newbies to NWCT like us. I noticed that the parking lot across the street from the theater had event parking for $10, and the block immediately around the theater was packed full even 30 minutes before the show. However, I found plenty of free on-street parking 2 and 3 blocks north of the theater. Also, during the post-show, the secondary actors come out first, and then Sophie, the Queen, and the BFG make their way out. As soon as the BFG comes out, everyone rushes over for his autograph and the crowds around the other actors thin out. We chose to do signatures and pictures with the other actors, talking to them and asking our questions. We got lots of attention, and when we were done, the crowd around the BFG was almost gone, so we got lots of attention from him, too.
Many thanks to the actors and off-stage crew at NWCT and to PDXKidsCalendar for a fun afternoon!
posted by Tabitha Rhodes