My grandsons were supposed to come with me today to see Bad Dog Theatre Presents: Animated (Bad Dog Youth Academy), playing at Toronto Fringe Festival Kidsfest 2017, but they got a better offer and are going to see it on Monday with their Mum. Luckily I was able to talk to three young people after the show to get their reactions. They all loved it and said they would recommend it to their friends. Judging from the reactions of the kids in the sold out audience, they all loved it too. So did I.
The show is improvised so each one will be different although the premise is always the same. The cast takes a suggestion from someone in the audience and uses it as the the base of an improvised 50 minute movie.
Today Alex’s hand shot up when the cast asked for a volunteer to help so his words were used. He was asked to name:
- a special object – he said his hand
- he likes to put a baseball in his hand
- he keeps his baseball in his desk
- he feels excited when he sees his baseball
- his bat is also in his desk (big desk)
With that the cast of six started the 50 minute ‘movie’. The main characters were Ball, Teddy Wetty, Lamp, Bat, Broken Race Car, Neighbour’s Dog (I forget his name). Some of the others were Wild Grass, Weed Flower, Lawn Mower, Sandbox Toy, Ants, Tim, and Tim’s Mom.
Ball and Teddy Wetty fell out of the window and through a series of mishaps ended up far from home. They had to get back in time for Tim’s big game. They met a lot of characters along the way. Some helped them and some hindered them, but they finally made it home.
It’s quite a physical show, lots of rolling and falling, very active.
When I asked the kids sitting behind me what their favourite parts were, Carly (12) said she liked the part where Lamp was trying to signal Ball and Teddy using Morse code but kept sending weird messages.
Lucy (9) liked Lamp being sassy when he was trying to send the Morse code.
Hayley (12) was particularly fond of the part where Ball hit a home run out of the park and ran the bases waving and cheering. I liked that too.
Their grown-ups enjoyed the show although one said that she would like to see the cast again when they’ve worked together more. I know what she means; I’ve seem improv that is so slick it’s hard to believe that it isn’t scripted.
This wasn’t particularly slick but it was silly and a lot of fun. Although it says ages 8+ I think you’d be OK taking six and seven year olds. And 67 year olds.
- Bad Dog Theatre Presents: Animated! plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl.)
- Tickets for Kidsfest shows are $5 for kids (age 12 and younger); adults pay $12.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The George Ignatieff Theatre is wheelchair-accessible, and has wide aisles for easy mid-show exits.
- Don’t miss the Kidsfest club located on the lawn adjacent to the venue! Free activities for children (3-12) and caregivers run every day of the festival: see website for details.
- Thursday July 6th, 01:00 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 10:30 am
- Monday July 10th, 01:15 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 05:00 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 03:15 pm
- Friday July 14th, 04:45 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 03:00 pm
Photo of Kirsten Rasmussen by Connor Low