I got a lot of great feedback from my post earlier this week about canceling plans to see Shrek with my son Jack, as punishment for his misbehavior at school (I only wish people would comment here on the site, or on the Learning to Crawl Facebook page, rather than on my personal Facebook page, so that more people could see them). The advice ranged from "You're a great dad" to "You are mean" (thanks BJD!). I got some really lovely emails from parents telling their stories of similar struggles. Interestingly, when I off-handedly mentioned the punishment to Jack's teacher, she said "That sounds like a heavy punishment!" It took me aback, because I always suspected they thought we weren't being harsh enough.
In any case, I decided to get tickets for Shrek on another night. I figured if Jack was good for a couple days, I would take him as a reward. The tickets for Tuesday were for great seats and, best of all, they were free, since it was press night. Having missed that, I had to pay for tickets for last night's show and they were "obstructed view." When Jack got home from school yesterday and I learned that he had been good the second day in a row, I handed him the Shrek brochure. "We're going?!" He screamed and jumped and propped up the brochure next to his plate at dinner, so he could look at it while he ate.
Then off we went. We were early, so we went to watch the musicians in the orchestra pit warming up, took the picture here in the lobby, and got to out seats (which weren't bad at all, actually). Before long, it was showtime.
Jack was terrified. As soon as the booming orchestra and voices started, he turned to me and said, loudly, "Take me home!" I calmed him and convinced him to stick it out a little longer. He started to get into the story, but then remembered what was coming. "Take me home before the dragon part," he said, demonstrating a totally sensible fear of fire. He went back and forth between giggling and, every time there was a loud noise or fighting, asking to go home. I figured we'd try to stick it out until intermission and then pack it in.
Just before intermission, when Shrek and Donkey get to the castle—the dragon part—Jack crawled in my lap and turned away. But the dragon was super-cool, singing instead of roaring, and being operated by a team of puppeteers, like a giant Chinese dragon puppet. It was actually one of the most creative elements of the production, which was full of creative elements. And Jack loved it. He sat back in his seat and, a minute later, leaned over to me: "Daddy, we can't leave until the very end." Having grown sleepy, I was actually looking forward to heading home early, but, oh well.
In the second act, I fought to stay awake, while Jack sat riveted. The show is well done, full of the best elements of the movie, with some understandable tweaks of plot and production. My only real peeve was the music. As I explained before, I really love the music in the film, from Rufus Wainwright, Eels, and, yes, even Smashmouth. But that was all absent from the show, no doubt as a result licensing and cost issues. It was replaced with fairly bland show tunes—not bad, but certainly not as evocative or interesting. I was relieved when, during a curtain call, the cast sang the version of "I'm a Believer" from the film—hardly my favorite tune on the soundtrack, but we sang along to every word.
All the way home—or at least until Jack passed out cold—he begged to come back to the show another night. This morning, he started asking again. I told him that we wouldn't go back to the Shrek show, but, if he was good, we'd go to another show at the Hippodrome soon. Here's hoping there's always another show to shoot for...