Monday, July 31, 2023

FLASH GIVEAWAY: WIN A Family 4 Pack of Tickets (2 winners/$65 value) To ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” Via Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences

 ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List: 

Family Friendly Theatre Fun

Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences continues its 2023 children’s theatre season with their summer production, 


All photos by Liz Lauren

Here at ChiIL Mama, we adore Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences as much as we love Mo Willems books! If you're grinning in agreement, we've got a great giveaway for you. ChiIL Mama's pleased to partner up with Marriott Theatre once again, and two of our lucky readers will win 4 complimentary tickets ( ($65 value) for the show of your choice (pending availability). Enter at the end of this post through midnight Tuesday, August 1st for your chance to win! Winners will be emailed Wednesday morning and announced here and on our social media channels. 

Families are invited to enjoy this musical take on the award-winning Mo Willems books that will leave them singing and dancing through a rollicking adventure, running July 14 through August 13, with a press opening on Saturday, July 22 at 10am at Marriott Theatre, located at 10 Marriott Drive. This special one-hour presentation is directed by Johanna McKenzie Miller and choreographed by Laura Savage with musical direction by Carolyn Brady. Each performance will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the cast.

“Any chance I have to work on a piece for theatre for young audiences is a joy, but it’s a priority that I craft an exciting and satisfying experience for the whole family,” said director Johanna McKenzie Miller. “The Elephant & Piggie books were such a large part of my kids’ early childhood, and I look forward to taking those cherished memories and bringing this performance to life.”

ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” is a charming and sweet musical, guaranteed to bring a smile to audiences of all ages! Gerald and Piggie are best, best, "bestus" friends, but Gerald worries that something could go wrong that would end their friendship. Piggie is not worried at all, she's even happier and more excited than usual. That's because she and Gerald are invited to a party hosted by the Squirrelles, three singing squirrels who love to have a good time. So begins a day when anything is possible. Filled with beloved characters and lively songs, ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” is a perfect way to introduce young audiences to theatre.

This production of ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” stars Lillian Castillo as “Piggie,” Lorenzo Rush Jr. as “Elephant,” Brian Bandura, Sara Reinecke, and Ciarra Stroud as “The Squirelles,” and Patrick Michael Tierney as “Dog/Penguin”; with understudies Crystal Claros, Dan Gold, Kayla Kennedy, and Katherine Viviano.

The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences team will be led by Associate Artistic Director Katie Johannigman, with costume design by Theresa Ham, lighting design by Brian Elston, scenic and prop design by Eric Luchen, lighting programmed by Megan Wines and Billy Borst, sound design by Matthew Chase, and media design by Tony Churchill. The stage manager is Casie Morell.

ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” plays most Thursdays through Sundays at 10 am with select 12:30 pm performances. An ASL interpreted performance will take place on Saturday, August 12th at 10:00am. Visit or call 847.634.0200 for the exact schedule, as show times and dates vary. Tickets are $15.75, excluding tax and handling fees. Call for substantial group discounts on over 20 tickets. Free parking is available at all performances. To reserve tickets, please call The Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or visit

Buddy is also playing at Marriott Theatre through August 13th! 

This excellent production with  multigenerational appeal is an excellent pick for making some memories. Marriott's Buddy is chock full of major talent, timeless tunes, and a tragic ending. Don't miss this!

ChiIL Mama's pleased to partner up with Marriott Theatre once again, and two of our lucky readers will win 4 complimentary tickets ($65 value) for the show of your choice, as long as it's not sold out


ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” runs through August 13th. Please be sure you can make it to at least one of the dates below before entering. 

Enter here through midnight Tuesday, August 1st for your chance to win! Winners will be emailed Wednesday morning and announced here and on our social media channels. 

Thanks to Marriott Theatre for partnering up with ChiIL Mama and supplying complimentary tickets for our giveaway. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Bristol Renaissance Faire Announces 2023 Season! The Top Renaissance Faire in the Country Set to Open July 8th, 2023

ChiIL Mama’s ChiIL Picks List:
Family Friendly Day Trips 

All photos by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara unless otherwise noted. 

Join Us! Set on a summer day in 1574 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visited the English city of Bristol, the Bristol Renaissance Faire is open for nine weekends 

The magic of Bristol Renaissance Faire (BRF) is something utterly unique and enduring. Every season when they "open wide the gates" it's a homecoming. BRF is friendships, fun, tradition, and new experiences. Whether you've been coming since the humble beginnings of King Richard's Faire, or you're checking it out for the first time, faire holds something amazing for everyone. It's the only place where worlds collide and cosplay "playtrons", history buffs, and every pop culture genre imaginable share space for a summer of magical weekends. Excellent stage shows, street improv, food and ale, small craftsmen's wares, and prime people watching opportunities are abundant. Over all, creativity is queen! We highly recommend checking it out. BRF has plenty of family friendly experiences and is an easy day trip about an hour north of Chicago.

Bristol Renaissance Faire has been a favorite of mine since I first moved to Chicago in 1990. When I had children in the early 2000's we brought them to faire multiple times a season. Is it any wonder they both grew up loving the experience and auditioned there once they were old enough? 

My daughter, Sage conquers the castle, 2008 (age 5)

Sage and Dugan (5 & 7) with The Swordsmen, 2008

 Dugan and Sage (18 & 16) their 2nd year working fair, 2019

This year marks my son's 6th stint as Fletcher Bodkin with the Bristol Buskin Frolic cast. My daughter also spent a summer with BBF and several seasons working for The Complete Fool juggling shop, teaching circus skills to kids and adults, wowing the day drinkers and bringing joy to thousands of patrons. She met her current boyfriend of 4 years, and fellow juggler there. They still juggle together and have advanced to juggling knives and fire! Check back with and, and with our social media channels, for photo filled BRF features all summer long.

The iconic, summer-long Bristol Renaissance Faire will open the gates for the 2023 season after its epic return following the worldwide pandemic and subsequent closures. ‘Our team is thrilled to be back and doing what we do best: presenting world-class, immersive entertainment that will put a smile on your face. We continue to work closely with the local health department and the most current CDC recommendations to ensure the safety of our guests, vendors, volunteers, and staff,’ stated Linda McFeters, Owner and Producer.

Voted “Best Renaissance Faire” for the tenth consecutive year in 2021, the Bristol Renaissance Faire will open Saturday, July 8, for nine weekends closing on Labor Day Monday, September 4. The Faire offers an exciting, eclectic mix of fun and frivolity located on thirty-plus acres and just a short drive from either Chicago or Milwaukee.

Leave your burdens in the 21st century. Enter our gates and become a King, Queen, pirate, sorcerer, or anything you want to be for the day, and many other guests will play along! Or don’t come in costume at all. It’s your day. Enjoy it your way. Go on a stroll through the village with a gigantic turkey leg or steak-on-a-stake or one of the many scrumptious vegetarian delights like the perennially-popular Garlic Mushrooms or Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. For the thirsty, craft brews, ciders, cocktails, teas, sodas, and other refreshing beverages are readily available.

Sage, age 8, enjoying a cone on Steampunk Weekend 2011

Take home a memory from one of the nearly 200 artisan shops where you can find everything from handmade chain maille, Scottish kilts, and handcrafted leather masks to Steampunk adornments, soaps, jewelry, and beautiful floral wreaths for the hair. Interesting, educational demonstrations by potters, blacksmiths, and other working artisans are offered many times throughout the day.

Special Event Weekends

Timetraveler Sage from Steampunk Weekend 2011

Back by popular demand are four special event weekends including: ‘Steampunk Weekend’ on July 15 and 16 to infuse time-traveling shenanigans into your Faire day; ‘Marketplace’ on July 22 and 23 where our guests are rewarded for their shopping with complimentary tickets, ‘Pirate Weekend’ on August 5 and 6 where you can shiver your timbers with a whole crew of costumed swashbuckler and, lastly, ‘RennCon™’ on August 12 and 13 which is a celebration of cosplay in all its forms. 

All the fun details are found at

Rides and Games

A wonderland of rides and games awaits you at the Faire! An Escape Room, ‘DaVinci’s Flying Machine’ and ‘Fight the Knight’ are but a few.

Join Us! Set on a summer day in 1574 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visited the English city of Bristol, the Bristol Renaissance Faire is open for nine weekends and located just west of I-94’s Russell Road exit, near Kenosha, Wis. Open rain or shine, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., every Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day (Monday), July 8 through September 4. Tickets are $40 for adults; $15 for children, ages 5 to 12. 

Skip the box office lines and purchase discounted adult and children tickets at Menards. Show an I.D. to receive a discount for military or seniors aged 62 and better. Children aged 4 and under are admitted free. Season passes are also available. Please visit for details. Follow the Faire on Facebook for real-time information regarding ticketing, entertainment, and safety protocols.