Marcus Center’s outdoor summer KidZ Days series rounded out its season yesterday with a performance by Kohl’s Wild Theater. The eco-conscious theater group is funded by a partnership among Kohl's Cares, the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. In addition to regular performances at the Milwaukee County Zoo, they do touring shows. This year they rounded-out the KidZ Days series with an outdoor production of A Tale of Two Hemispheres.
Written by New York-based actor/writer Nicole Greevy, A Tale of Two Hemispheres is a solidly entertaining introduction to the concepts of conservation and sustainability for kids. In the first part of the story we get a tale of the northern hemisphere introducing the concept of carbon footprints. The second tale has a story of the southern hemisphere teaching kids about the importance of sharing and sustainability. Kohl’s Wild Theater has been around for a while. Any theater program runs the risk of losing some vitality as the years go by. Talent filters-in. Talent filters-out.
Judging from the closing performance of KidZ Days this year, Kohl’s Wild Theater hasn’t lost anything over the years. A Tale of Two Hemispheres solidly held the attention of my six-year-old daughter from beginning to end. KWT veteran Emmitt Morgans was joined by recent Carroll University grad Ami Majeskie and recent addition Jason Nykiel from Chicago.
A Kohl’s Wild Theatre show engages from the start. Kids might be cued to shout STOMP every time a carbon footprint is presented or maybe help steer a pirate away from environmentally unsustainable greed. Right away the kids in the audience are given audience participation assignments, the overall premise of the show is introduced and the story emerges. A Tale of Two Hemispheres opens with a Emmitt Morgans as a filmmaker learning about shrinking habitats from Jason Nykiel as a charming, hungry polar bear and Ami Majeskie as a plucky, assertive tundra swan. Greevy gives the two animals kind of a fun rapport that engages kids on a social level beyond the educational fare. (Throughout the short, they refer to each other as Cygnus and Ursus, which I thought was quite cute.) Nykiel and Majeskie do a good job of capturing the friendship of a couple of animals in danger of ending-up in a predator/prey relationship.
There’s a lot of information wrapped-up in a KWT show. The cast always manages to present it in a way that isn’t too daunting or overwhelming. Yes: there is global climate change and unsustainable use of the planet’s resources, but there are things that we can do NOW. It’s important that kids get taught this early. Kohl’s Wild Theater does an excellent job of introducing kids to these concepts.
Kohl’s Wild Theater continues to perform its season at the Milwaukee County Zoo through Labor Day. For more information, visit Kohl’s Wild Theater online.