Chicago's Redmoon Winter Pageant: An Innovative, Eye-Catching Performance

Interactive show explores grand love and honors the four seasons of the human heart

By Megy Karydes,

Chicago’s critically acclaimed spectacle company Redmoon is known for pushing the envelope when it comes to their performances, whether it’s trying something new or dazzling audiences with innovative props and costumes. While it doesn’t repeat any of its performances, its annual Winter Pageant has become a tradition for many families and visitors.

This year’s performances take place over two weekends, beginning Friday, Dec. 12. The family-friendly pageant will explore the idea of grand love and honor the four seasons of the human heart. Set atop a massive glacier, love stories are brought to life by a cast of more than 40 performers, including 10 professional spectacle performers alongside 30 community collaborators.

Redmoon's Winter Pageant 2013 dazzled audiences — Photo courtesy of Al Zayed / Redmoon

Internationally acclaimed break dancers, aerialists, a teen choir and handmade Redmoon puppets and costumes come together, as a live original score is performed by a one-man, 10-instrument band.

This year’s story follows a pair of explorers as they travel to a massive glacier, built entirely of paper, in search of a precious mineral that will bring them great worldly wealth. But a disagreement forces them to part ways.

On their separate journeys across the massive icescape, the explorers encounter a series of imaginative mythological and archetypal creatures, both real and imagined – from shadow puppet dinosaurs and deer backpacks to two larger-than-life Yeti in their hydraulic-powered ice cave home – who tell their unique stories about different kinds of love.

The poetic new production features a live original score composed and performed by one-man band The Lonesome Organist simultaneously playing accordion, banjo, fiddle, piano, drums and more; fantastic child aerialists from Aerial Dance Chicago, accompanied by an adult professional aerialist; and award-winning break dancers who have performed their uniquely Chicago style of dance across the world.

You'll also experience a shadow puppet show designed with intricate silhouettes by Andrea Everman; wild, shaggy Yeti costumes designed by Shoshanna Utchenik; an original song about the power of love, written by acclaimed playwright Seth Bockley; Chicago West Community Music Center, a community-based youth choir of skilled teens from the West Side including a 10-year-old harpist; and artwork created by After School Matters teens.

As guests enter Redmoon’s gargantuan Spectacle Hall, they’ll be transported high above the cloud line to the tip of a glacier, which has transformed Redmoon’s massive space into a world of ice, snow and Northern Lights. Spectators are invited to watch the spectacle from the bleachers or find a seat on the snowy white “lawn.”

One of the best things about Redmoon’s performances is that they’re extremely interactive. Guests who arrive early can participate in an art activity and, most importantly, gather 30 minutes before the show to learn a song or dance and perform an original moment in the show.

Kids of all ages (yes, this includes excited adults) are invited to join the 40 performers in the show to create an original fable for and by the people of Chicago.

For those interested in learning more about how Redmoon creates their thrilling performances, families are invited up onto the glacier to enjoy desserts and snacks with the cast and crew; see the massive, intricate set in more detail; and learn more about the puppets and objects used in the production after each show.

Redmoon’s Winter Pageant 2014 takes place Friday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 21. Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m., as well as on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

This upcoming show was co-created by Will Bishop, Jillian Gryzlak and Frank Maugeri; directed by Will Bishop with Katrina Flores; and art directed by Jillian Gryzlak, with live original music by The Lonesome Organist.