Children’s theater is required to be engaging and energetic. The risk of losing young audience attention spans makes the task essential. Adventure Stage Chicago manages to reach well beyond merely holding attention with their effervescent production, “Six Stories Tall.” The multi-dimensional collection of stories inspired by Latino folktales grabs the imagination and displays endless possibilities for kids and adults alike. Before the play even starts, the cast actively captures the audience with a live DJ and actors spinning glowing balls, dancing and juggling. Greeting the audience individually as they arrive, the actors form a connection that serves to create an open and interactive environment. All six stories explore the different ways that children can be heroes, told from different times, places and perspectives. The first story, based on the ancient Latino myth of La Sirena or the mermaid, follows young Tomas (Mark Anthony Gonzalez), who is sent by his village to float notes of wishes and requests into the ocean because the fisherman have not caught any fish. Tomas meets Sirena (Sarah Rose Graber) a mermaid, whom he saves from the starving villagers even though he doesn’t believe in magic or wishes. It’s a heartwarming tale that doesn’t rely on a happy ending to show that courage can be displayed in many different ways. The 90-minute production is tight and vivid, with no intermission, but lots of opportunities for the audience to sing and dance. Standout stories include “B Minor,” an imaginative retelling of batting the devil with a young girl, Rebecca (Danielle Davis) fighting for the return of her father (Alexander Knapp). The duel is with words and songs and young Rebecca bursts out with a rap that bests the devil. The narration is particularly witty, with townspeople urging the audience, “but don’t get bored because something is about to happen.” “I Am Not Batman” showcases a kinetic boy ( a charming Lance Newton) who reenacts his experience as a super hero and “Lupe and The Red Line Monster” turns Chicago urban myths on its head with Lupe (a convincing Alyssa Vera Ramos) a preteen who has “done nothing extraordinary her whole life” until she defeats a bizarre creature in the subway.
“Six Stories Tall” inspires and excites while reminding audiences that everyone is a hero in some way.