Dr. Seuss fans get their chance to enter and interact with the many imaginative worlds of beloved children’s books starting this Friday.
An interactive exhibit called “The Dr. Seuss Experience” has opened at Water Tower Place after successfully running it in Toronto and Houston and will run through January 2, although it may be extended upon request, company officials said.
From the “Circus McGurkus” carousel (inspired by “If I Owned a Circus”) that can be seen through a corner window in Michigan and Pearson, to the balloon maze of “The Lorax,” to the 3,500-pound “Thromdimulator” – a machine Herbie broke in The book “Have I Ever Told You How Lucky You Are?” Visitors can do more than just walk and look.
In another room, inspired by the movie “There a Wocket in My Pocket,” kids can search for 32 characters, some in plain sight like Bofa on the Sofa—and some hiding, like Jertain in the Curtain.
And of course, there’s a room inspired by Dr. Seuss’ most famous book, “The Cat in the Hat,” where kids can interact with an electronic character from Cat In The Hat fitted with a hidden camera and microphone and managed by a behind-the-scenes team member.
“The Dr. Seuss Experience,” said Spencer Brillets, general manager of “The Dr. Seuss Experiment.”
The interactive exhibit is a partnership between Los Angeles-based Kilburn Live Entertainment, and Dr.
Mark Manuel, CEO of Kilburn Live, speaking at a preview of the show Thursday, said Macy’s’ recent departure at Water Tower Place provided a great opportunity to stage the show in the heart of the Magnificent Mile just in time for holiday shoppers.
“This site is exceptional,” Manuel said. “It would have been a tough proposition a couple of years ago. Fortunately for us, unfortunately for retail, retail is suffering.”
Looking at a room full of pink clover, Manuel, who said he visits Chicago regularly, remembered the transformation.
“This was where Macy’s makeup counter was, and look what we turned it into. It’s amazing when I look at it. I imagine what it was like before because I used to come here a lot.”
While families are the target demographic, the organizers also anticipate a lot of tech-savvy adults: “Because it’s so photo-friendly on Instagram, we’re going to welcome a lot of millennials and Generation Z.”
While the fair’s gift shop sells stuffed animals and toys related to the characters in the books, it’s the books themselves (also available there) that Manuel hopes to buy. “That’s definitely part of the goal, to encourage reading,” he said. “The power of imagination is one of our themes.”
One cool thing that debuted in Chicago is a conceptual artwork by famed artist Michael Murphy, who made 85 laser-cut acrylics—all items from Seuss books—hang from the ceiling. When one steps back a few feet and looks at them all, they explain “Dr. Seuss.” Being a part of the Seuss exhibit was very exciting—especially because the kids would see it.
“Kids are my favorite audience. They are very honest,” said Murphy, who lives in Brooklyn but has graduated and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
I grew up reading his books and came back to it when I got this job. I realized he’s saying the same thing I’m saying now – things to do with being creative and thinking about the world differently – and it really makes me wonder how much of an impression he’s subconsciously made on me.”
Ticket prices for The Dr. begin. Anyone over the age of two must wear masks.
After Chicago, the show will move to an as yet unannounced city and will travel until 2024.