"That's Weird, Grandma" offers something for everyone—hilarity, heartfelt sentiment, sarcasm, quick wit and engaging musical numbers. With only a simple backdrop, few costumes, some props and actors with a ton of explosive energy, the sketches deliver some of the most charming tales staged in Chicago. But what makes the show truly standout are the third- and fourth-graders who penned the stories that inspired the sketches.
Barrel of Monkeys Theater Company works in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Communities in Schools. Three volunteer teachers conduct six-week residencies at area public schools, meeting once a week for 90 minutes. The classes encourage young students to write and tell stories through brainstorming and creative drama exercises, without having to toil over correct grammar, punctuation, etc. At the end of each residency, professional actors from the company adapt these pieces and act them out during a school-wide assembly, with many making it into the weekly Monday evening shows.
How Barrel of Monkeys transforms these simple tales into a show that leaves audience members wanting more is the magic of the ever-changing performances, which rotate weekly based on the audience's votes.
Culled from various acting troupes throughout Chicago, Barrel of Monkeys ensemble members are adept at taking on many duties throughout the show. They play keyboards, act, sing and dance, while filling the sparsely decorated Neo Futurarium space with enough vigor and liveliness to tire out a roomful of grammar school students. Audiences can sense that all of the actors are having a great time and giving it their all during the show. Best yet? It's perfect for all ages.
If you dread Mondays, reserve a spot for an upcoming "That's Weird, Grandma" performance. It will jump start your week, get you laughing, make you smile and leave you tapping your toes to the lively tunes all the way home.