I don’t use the terms “squeals of delight” or “laugh out loud” often, but there is no other way to describe the sounds of pure happiness and joy that filled the room full of toddlers watching Balloonacy.
Balloonacy is a one-man show expertly geared towards young children. The performer is accompanied only by live music and a big red balloon which plays an important role in his solo birthday celebration. There are no words in the show, which relies heavily on physical humor, general silliness, and the element of surprise throughout.
Like most of Imagination Stage’s shows for the very young, there are many interactive elements to the show. Some of my three-year-old son’s favorite parts were when the performer did not see the balloon behind him even though the children were telling him where it was, when the he played peek-a-boo from behind his newspaper with the audience, and – of course! – getting squirted with water. My son and the other toddlers in the room also loved watching the performer being surprised by the balloon floating out of a trashcan and box, his inability to blow out his birthday candle, getting befuddled by a game of pin the tail on the donkey (spoiler: the tail winds up as a mustache for Mona Lisa), and watching him make a big mess when he accidentally sits on his own birthday cake.
Unexpectedly, the red balloon takes on the characteristics of a best friend, who both plays with the performer and creates mischief. When the balloon pops, the performer brings it back to life with the help of a band-aid. When the balloon flies out of the window, he lures it back with a heartfelt note written on a paper airplane.
No Imagination Stage show for the very young would be complete without some time to play at the end, and this show ends with, what else, but lots and lots of colorful balloons for the kids to play with.
Balloonacy is geared towards young children aged 1-5. It is designed to be interactive so that even wiggly toddlers like my son normally have no problems getting through the show. There were also a few older siblings in the audience at the performance I attended, including my seven-year-old daughter, and the older kids were enjoying the show just as much as the little ones.
Balloonacy runs about 45 minutes, including the short playtime at the end.
Photos courtesy of Jamie Davis Smith