Sunday, August 30, 2015

Live Theatre Review: Sol Children's Theatre's Thumbelina

Sol Children’s Theatre presents Thumbelina, adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen tale by Wade Bradford, running from August 27 – September 6, Thursdays through Sundays at 7pm with a 2pm matinee on the weekends. Thumbelina tells the story of a childless woman whose wish to become a mother is granted by a faerie.

I absolutely loved the way director Christopher Mitchell worked around the logistical problem of difference of size between Thumbelina and the magical characters’ world and that of the humans that share the stage with them. Since there is no cinematic magic available, the characters each work half of the stage, playing up or down to each other in a clever fix.

The cast is downright adorable, and a large part of the show is just ooo-ing and aaaah-ing at these cute little actors. However, despite their tender ages, this isn’t an amateurish play. These kids know what they are doing and they are quite good at it. They have excellent rhythm and elocution that often goes amiss in productions by much older actors.

Brooke Hall is a lovely Thumbelina, showcasing her talents of song and dance. She shows great poise while playing a timid but eager character.

Her human mother, played by Denise Michelle, conquers her logistically-challenged role with equanimity. Though she scarcely gets to play off another characters, she emotes just as if she was speaking directly to her “little” co-stars.

Some of the children play dual or triple roles. Eden Wexler is a spunky little firecracker, especially as a baby mouse, and Addison Wexler charms in her matriarchal roles.

Addison is not the only actor playing against type; Austin Stein is a suave, elderly mole whose kindness to Thumbelina has suspicious origins.

Murphy Hayes is great as Uncle Jack the field mouse, the crotchety counterpart to Thumbelina’s optimist.

There is much comedy in this show – at times the audience laughter caused me to miss some of the actors’ lines. Isabella Welch has a great role as a caterpillar coming to terms with puberty which she executes hilariously. The couple of times when the actors break the invisible “fourth wall,” it enriches rather than detracts from the play.

Costume design (Ember Everett) and makeup (Christopher Lam & Elizabeth Condon) are beautiful artistic elements of this show: Zoe Alarcon’s elegantly-played black widow and Samantha Mascaro’s “chirpy” sparrow are both enhanced by these.

I am always in awe of the beautiful artwork (Kate McVay) that is created for the backdrop of Sol’s productions. Thumbelina is no exception; a verdant mural serves to create the setting, and the cobblestone path encountered along the journey is worth a closer look after the show.

In short, I highly recommend this play for all ages – the little theatre-goers have a special pint-sized front row just for them. At only approximately 60 minutes with no intermission, the play is timed perfectly with scene changes to keep younger viewers engaged and more mature audience members enchanted.

Sol Children's Theatre is located at 3333 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Tickets for future performances can be purchased here.

Sol Children's Theatre is a 501(c)(3) corporation and would benefit greatly with your tax-deductible support, all of which is invested right back into providing quality theatre entertainment for the community.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Live Theatre Review: Evening Star Production's BUG

Director Rosalie Grant makes excellent use of the intimate space at the Infinite Abyss of Wilton Manors with her production of Tracy Letts’s BUG. The stage is busy, but not distractingly so, with props that tell as much of a story about the characters and their lives as the action does. Lighting and soundtrack are also well-placed, important elements of the story.

Set in a seedy motel in Oklahoma, the play opens on a dysfunctional note that will set the tone for the entire show. The harried Agnes (Erynn Dalton), who is haunted by her past, is soon introduced through her friend RC (Rachel Finley) to someone who will change her future.

Todd Bruno is inspired as the mysterious stranger, Peter Evans, who is endearingly awkward. Peter captures the audience from the first moment he’s onstage, and his bookishness is oddly charming. Todd remains true to the character as he evolves from act to act.

The chemistry between Agnes and Goss (Dominick Daniel) is corrosive and his character is as despicable as Evans is winsome.

Though the play is dark and macabre, it is broken up by some scripted as well as more subtle, visual, humor.

Tonight is your last chance to catch the don’t–miss BUG. Evening Star Production performs its final show on Saturday, August 29 at 8pm.

May be inappropriate for young audiences because of violence, drug use, and nudity.

Get your tickets here or at the door: Infinite Abyss, 2304 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors FL.

Relevant music reference:

I heard Dwight Yoakum, Brooks and Dunn, Chris Isaak, and some Johnny Cash.