Review by Kelly Romack MacBlane and Owen MacBlane
If you like theater, crocodiles or people, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile might be a show for you!
On Sunday, October 27, my five-year-old and I saw Lyle, Lyle Crocodile at the Lifeline Theater. Over the last 18 months, I have seen quite a few children’s theater productions, so I was excited to add another one to my list. From the perspective of an adult attending a children’s production, I must say this was not one of my favorites. However, here is the perspective of a 5-year-old, obviously, the intended audience:
I liked it. I liked it because it was a good show. My favorite part was when Lyle met the Primm family. Lyle was a good actor. He made a good crocodile sound. The scariest part was when Lyle was at the zoo. I felt sad for Lyle. I think my daddy should see this show because it was good. I also think little kids would like this show because I never felt bored, I always liked what was happening. I thought the set was good because it looked real. I also liked the costumes. Even though some actors played different characters, I was never confused because the actors did a good job of being different characters. If you’re a little kid and you like theater or crocodiles or people, you should see this show.
Now, the adult perspective. What I liked about this show: it did keep the kids entertained. There was a lot of action and being a musical, the children were engaged by the singing and dancing. The acting was fine- definitely more caricaturey then I usually like but completely appropriate for this type of production. My favorite actor in the show was Matt Patrick who played Josh/Hector P. Valenti. I felt the show got off to a slow start but once Hector P. Valenti appeared, I became more engaged. Patrick brought a much-needed energy to the production in this role. The other actors did a fine job- Heather Currie was a loving and sympathetic Mrs. Primm and Gabriel Fries switched easily between Mr. Primm and Mr. Grumps. I was a little worried that this particular double-casting would be tricky for my son to follow as one character is Lyle’s “dad” and the other is the evil neighbor who is trying to get rid of Lyle, but my son and the other children seemed to do ok with the switch. I have mixed feelings about the actual character of Lyle. I got the impression that director Amanda Link’s goal was to make Lyle seem lovable and almost human. However, with Lyle wearing a crocodile onesie with a crocodile hat with actor, Christopher Vizurraga’s hair sticking out the bottom, Lyle seemed almost too human to me. I guess I probably wanted more of the look from the illustrations in the original book by Bernard Waber. Perhaps a longer snout or even the actor’s face and hair being not quite as obvious. I also think Vizurraga’s portrayal was almost too timid. While Lyle is a friendly and tap dancing crocodile, I wanted a little more strength to the character.
Overall, the show was not designed for me. While I might prefer a children’s production that has a few jokes or subtleties designed to keep adults amused or that doesn’t have to spoon-feed the message at the end (as Mrs. Primm did in this one) or that has a larger production value, my five year old enjoyed it. He was excited to sit down and write the review with me and was happy to tell his brothers about it when he got home. So if you have a young person in your life who is a fan of the theater or crocodiles or people, they might enjoy Lyle, Lyle Crocodile at the Lifeline Theater.
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile is now playing at the LifelineTheatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., through November 24th. Performance times vary; check the website at Lifeline Theatre. Find more information about current play on our Current shows page and at theatreinchicago.com.