Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant/A Red Orchid Theatre

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Najwa Brown

Najwa Brown

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The Church of Scientology is back in the news, with recent French fraud charges and acrimony among high-profile members like director Paul Haggis and John Travolta. It’s also back onstage in this Red Orchid remount detailing the life and teachings of founder L. Ron Hubbard, as performed by children.

A Red Orchid’s Youth Ensemble brings more professionalism to the material than many adults on the scene today; their high-energy performances thankfully avoid the saccharine quality that can be some young actors’ stock in trade. Kudos to Adam Rebora and Najwa Brown for inventive work in very sophisticated material.  Steve Wilson’s competent direction keeps things hopping; Kyle Jarrow’s book and lyrics are sly and funny.

A sharp satire, the piece remains respectful of people’s search for answers; it deftly examines the reasons why many seek solace in Scientology’s sci-fi dog and pony show. It’s a very grown-up approach indeed. (Lisa Buscani)

“A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant” plays at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 North Wells, (312)943-8722, through January 17.

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