Storyteller Kevin Kling performs in “The Best Summer Ever!” at Seattle Children’s Theatre. Credit: Angela Sterling
Legendary storyteller Kevin Kling brings his unique style and laugh-out-loud humor to a whole host of new fans — Seattle-area kids — in Seattle Children’s Theatre’s fantastic new show, “The Best Summer Ever!” This two-man play is on stage now and runs through Sunday, April 17, 2022.
The bottom line
Full disclosure: I’ve been a fan of Kevin Kling since his days as a storyteller on NPR, back in the “aughts.” I was looking forward to seeing this SCT show, set to open in spring 2020, when the pandemic shut down Seattle Children’s Theatre and arts organizations across the globe. Lucky for us, it’s back.
When I told my 13-year-old we were going to see a play by a storyteller, he was not having it. (He’s a new teenager and really embracing the role.) He imagined it like a library story time. We argued about it and I ended up promising to pay him $20 if he didn’t like the show.
Of course I did not have to pay up. Kevin Kling and musician Rob Witmer really delivered, as I knew they would. My son laughed out loud the entire show. How about that for an endorsement?
Kevin Kling celebrates differences just by being himself. He was born with a foreshortened left arm, and later lost all use of his right arm in a motorcycle accident.
“If you see my arm move,” he says at the outset of the play, “tell me after the show. I’m going to be really excited!” This brings on the first of many, many laughs. But Kling deftly uses his left arm and his disability is not central, or even really noticeable, in the course of the show.
Kling portrays Maurice, a 9-year-old boy, and the show begins as Maurice waits for the last bell on the last day of school before summer vacation.
From that point, he proceeds with stories about various incidents and mishaps that take place over one summer. Maurice tells a series of tales about the stuff that kids’ memories are made of: families, sibling relationships, funerals, grandparents, getting in trouble, day dreaming, camp, the wonder of the stars.
Accompanying Kling’s physical style of storytelling is musician Rob Witmer. He provides music and sound effects, acts as a winking side-kick of sorts, and helps with changes on the simple but effective set. In one memorable scene, Witmer leads the audience in an accordion-accompanied sing-along of a Norwegian chicken song.
It’s hard to choose favorite stories from among all the laugh-out-loud tales. Some include the acquisition of a pet chicken named Joyce, Maurice and his brother Marv getting the Icee machine stuck in “dispense” mode at the convenience store, Maurice’s sister’s carwash mishap, and Marv getting sent to Norwegian camp.
Don’t worry if none of this makes sense now. Trust me. Just go buy your tickets and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
If you go …
When: “The Best Summer Ever!” plays through April 17, 2022.
Where: Seattle Children’s Theatre is located at 201 Thomas St., Seattle, on the west side of Seattle Center. This show plays in SCT’s Eve Alvord Theatre.
Tickets: $20–$50; buy tickets online for best availability. Before the pandemic, SCT introduced pricing tiers. Patrons can select their preferred ticket price, subject to availability. The tiers are premium ($35 child, $40 adult), standard ($25 child, $30 adult) and value ($20 child, $25 adult). Select “value” from the dropdown menu on the ticket page to find the cheaper tickets. There are a limited number available for each performance.
Accessibility: SCT offers an ASL-interpreted and audio-described show (Saturday, April 2) and a sensory-friendly show (Sunday, April 10). Wheelchair and companion seating are available; check the theater’s accessibility page.
Age recommendation: SCT recommends this show for ages 8 and older.
Run time: About one hour, with no intermission.
Show resources: SCT’s audience guide provides a detailed synopsis of the play, as well as reading recs.
Safety protocols: SCT requires masks for everyone ages 2 and older, as well as proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for everyone ages 5 and older. Read more details online.