The Space Chums!, a Space Chums production – part of Kidsfest – was the first show at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival. We entered the theatre through a silver archway with a shiny tinsel curtain. Very cooling on a hot day. I always think it bodes well for ‘my Fringe’ when I enjoy the first show that I see and I enjoyed this one. Not as much as the kids in the audience did though.
There’s a lot of audience participation in the show and the kids participated enthusiastically: clapping, singing, dancing, and waving their hands wildly in the air when the cast asked for favourite songs.
There was one little guy in the front row who was a terrific dancer, totally unselfconscious and a really quick study. He picked up the dance steps right away and danced with abandon.
There’s a convoluted back story involving a spaceship and a crew going to a garage sale to explain how the audience ends up on said spaceship, but really the show is about the cast connecting with the audience through music.
Space Ninja Linda (Lindsay Goodtimes) is the Captain of the ship and the lead singer, Lost Disco-Cosmonaut Boris Nikolai (Ian Goodtimes) is the Engineer (maybe), and Galacto-Fashionista Gussy (Kate Keenan) is the crew and has the best costume.
They created the show together and, I assume, wrote the music and lyrics. I liked the songs, they didn’t patronize the kids, and didn’t talk down to them at all. I’m not good at identifying musical styles but I would say this was pop, with some R&B and rap thrown in. Ian has an R&B voice. I loved it.
Usually I take one or both of my grandkids to Kidfest shows and base my review on their feedback. This year the nine year old is at Coding Camp and the six year old didn’t want to see any plays. Not a theatre fan!
Before the show I was talking with a seven year old and his mum and I asked if I could talk with them afterwards to see if he liked it. I looked over at him every now and again during the show and he was bouncing in his seat, he just couldn’t contain himself. I figured he was enjoying it. Afterwards he was too excited to talk about it. His mum said he had really enjoyed it.
There were a lot of kids pulling their adult to the merchandise table which was set up outside the theatre after the show. The Space Chums are pros! I mean that in the best possible way. The show was well written, high energy and kept the audience engaged for the full 45 minutes. It didn’t lag for one second.
I have two quibbles, one of them is with Fringe. In the program it says the show is recommended for ages 2 to 12. I think that 2 to 7 is more accurate. I ran into a fellow Mooney on Theatre reviewer who was there with her five year old and she agreed.
My Fringe quibble is that the Kidfest Club isn’t open on the first day of Fringe. I know the program says it starts on the 5th, but it not being open today meant a number of disappointed kids.
Kudos to the volunteers working the show. They didn’t have a tent – or whatever those tentish things are called – and it was hot with no shade.
OK. Back to the review. Take your kids to see The Space Chums! They’ll really enjoy it. So will you.
- The Space Chums! plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Pl.)
- Tickets for Kidsfest shows are $5 for kids (age 12 and younger); adults pay $13.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Fog or haze effects, Audience participation.
- 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.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 1:00 pm
- Friday July 6th, 12:00 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 5:15 pm
- Monday July 9th, 11:45 am
- Wednesday July 11th, 10:00 am
- Thursday July 12th, 3:45 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 1:30 pm
Photo of Ian Goodtimes, Lindsay Goodtimes and Kate Keenan by Ali Mason