The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
Seattle Children's Theatre, 441-3322. Through Jan 5.

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency is a strange play with a very strange name. It starts out with one plot, and then goes to a whole new story. It's kind of like seeing two plays at once but with the same idea. It begins by chasing a turkey but by the end it turns into a touching Christmas fable.

In Hoboken, New Jersey, Thanksgiving is rolling around and a kid named Arthur is sent to get his family a turkey. He can't find one anywhere so is told to get a chicken instead. A mad scientist named Professor Mazzocchi convinces Arthur to buy this huge live 266-pound chicken, which he names Henrietta and keeps as his pet. When Henrietta begins to cause problems around the apartment, Arthur's dad kicks her out onto the street. Henrietta, being a sensitive chick, gets very woebegone. While trying to find her way back to Arthur, she causes all kinds of mischief around the town. Of course, if you saw a giant chicken wandering around the streets of your town, you would immediately assume it was a killer gorilla or something, and that's what the townspeople first think too. The mayor hires a rude smooth-talker for $60,000 plus the mayor's limousine as payment for catching Henrietta.

Enough about the plot though, because the play wouldn't be the same without the great singing and dancing. Every once in a while the actors suddenly broke into a song and dance. Their voices were very strong and they moved very fluently. They did some amazing leaps over barrels and even did a catchy song in what sounded like a foreign language. On each song we felt like singing and dancing along with them. The actors sang with such energy and excitement, they looked like they were having so much fun. They looked like they were having so much fun that they weren't even acting.

We also have to recommend the actors. As Arthur, Jason Collins gave a perfect impression of a nerdy little kid, even though he probably already has his driver's license. He made his character really distinctive. We really liked Erica Berghan, who played the sweet little chicken, because her expressions were very meaningful and we really felt for her. When she was sad, we were sad, and when she was happy, our faces lit up. Another actor we admired was Geoffrey Alm, who played Arthur's dad. He had this great Polish accent that reminded us of Billy's dad in Billy Elliot, even though he was not Polish. We thought Alm's accent was real, but at the end of the show when he was talking to the audience he had a totally American voice.

The play was very creative with lots of funky props. For example, there was this dog that looked electronic, and when we saw it we wanted to go right out and buy one just like it. It was so cute! There was also this huge dog that tried to eat the chicken. It was cool, but it was obvious it was a puppet. There was lots of cool, sparkly fake snow that fell all over the stage. It made the scene more real and more like holiday time.

The basic moral of this play is "what goes around, comes around," which basically means if you do a good deed for someone then they'll do a good deed for you; if you're nice to somebody then they'll be nice to you. The nutty professor comes back and reminds the townspeople of this saying. The mayor, being so desperate to catch Henrietta, convinces everyone to be nice and kind, gentle and loving, to have a big smile on their faces whenever the chicken is near. Arthur thinks this plan will work and that Henrietta will return to her old normal self, kind of like a big puppy dog. Maybe their idea will work, maybe not. You'll have to see the play to find out.

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency made us laugh (because it was funny) and laugh (because it was weird) and cry (we didn't really cry). So what we are trying to say is that The Hoboken Chicken Emergency is a great holiday play for you and your family to see.