This post is sponsored by Children’s Theatre Company
We were left so delighted by Corduroy at the Children’s Theatre Company that we are still getting our bear-ings. This production is im-paws-ibly cute…unbearably adorable. I’ll try to button up everything we love about this special show. Let me tell you all about it!
Corduroy is based on the book of the same name by Don Freeman. The classic children’s book, written in 1968, tells the story of Corduroy the bear. He lives on the shelf at a department store, neglected because he has a missing button on his overalls. That all changes when a young girl named Lisa spots Corduroy just as she is leaving the store, and decides he is the most special bear on earth. Her mother, citing the store closing time and the previous purchases she’s made, declines to purchase Corduroy. The rest of the story is about the bear’s adventures of trying to find his missing button in the store and Lisa earning money through extra chores at home to go back and buy the bear.
Corduroy has long been one of my favorite books to give to new parents. The story is endearing, charming, and simple, yet it conveys profound messages of love, acceptance, and perseverance. Our own personal copy has bent corners and worn pages from the innumerable times it’s been read. This book was also read to me as a child. I distinctly remember the ache I felt when Lisa went home without the bear, and how determined she was to eventually bring Corduroy home with her.
Commissioned and produced by the Children’s Theatre Company, Corduroy first debuted in 2018. Playwright Barry Kornhauser said the most challenging aspect of turning Corduroy into a stage production was crafting the five-minute storybook into a full-length show while preserving the qualities that make the book so special to so many.
After Lisa first spots — and leaves—Corduroy at the store, the play alternates scenes between Freeman’s department store and Lisa’s home. While Corduroy is busy searching for the lost button on his green overalls, Lisa is determined to earn the money she needs to buy the bear. We learn that Lisa is having a hard time making friends at school and is certain that Corduroy would make the very best friend. Corduroy, it turns out, is longing for a friend of his own too.
Meanwhile, Corduroy’s quest to find a replacement button leaves the audience in stitches. He magically becomes life-sized and is given character and feeling through the actor, Dean Holt. Corduroy unintentionally causes mischief through his antics of tracking down the button. Holt brings an incredible physicality to the role and leaves the audience roaring with laughter. More than one time, I found myself smiling ear-to-ear without realizing it. Sentient vacuum cleaners, towers of toilet paper, shaving cream, and one bumbling Nighttime Security Guard will do that to a person.
The play itself is simple. There are only six actors and no huge set changes. (Although two of the actors are “mannequins” that make the scene changes a hilarious and integral part of the show.) However, it’s the rhythmic pace of hilarity and struggle faced by both Corduroy and Lisa that give this show its incredible appeal and leaves the audience with an undeniable feeling of warmth and joy.
Corduroy is magic. The show is easily loved by young children and adults alike. We saw families with young kids and families with no kids. And to be very clear: this is a family-friendly show. I would argue that the loud, boisterous reactions and laughing from the youngest audience members are part of what makes this production so wonderful. My youngest was struggling with some big emotions prior to the play and was certain he did not want to attend. By the end though, his little face beamed happiness and delight.
If you can, attend Corduroy. Bring someone you love with you. It’s not often I give such a strong recommendation. But I’m truly convinced that everyone who attends will feel that memorable blend of whimsy and nostalgia that comes when a person knows they are part of something special. Like a girl finally uniting with her bear.
photos by Glen Stubbe Photography
Tickets to Corduroy may be purchased online at childrenstheatre.org/corduroy or by calling the ticket
office at 612.874.0400. Ticket prices start at $15 for kids and $25 for adults.
School groups interested in attending Corduroy can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more
This production is best enjoyed by everyone age 4 and up. Lap passes are available for children 3
years and younger.