Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hopefully this Risk will Turn to Gold for Theatre IV

An obviously brilliant person from the Marketing Department at Theatre IV invited me to see the opening night of "Rumplestiltskin's Daughter" (no names here but even thought I love Judy it was not she who gave the personal invite). So last night, I took the best kid show critic I know, my seven year old daughter, Elinor, down to the fabulous Empire Theatre to see the American Premier of the show. Elinor (or Ellie as we sometimes call her) yawned through the company's "same-old,same old" production of "The Wizard of Oz". She enjoyed "A Christmas Story" but was squirming in her seat to distraction due to its length. But last night we both walked out with big smiles on our faces.

"Rumplestiltskin's Daughter" is everything Children's Theatre should be. Engaging for kids of a variety of ages and the adults who escort them, funny, enlightening with it's message, politically correct for our time, colorful and just the right length - a little over an hour with no intermission. It is also everything that the largest theatre company in the area should produce: new, well directed, well acted, well designed and crafted set, sound, and lighting, appropriate, fun, well thought out costumes, excellent make-up, choreography that is appropriate for the show and its actors, and wonderfully talented cast who's abilities are utilized properly to make a show that flows seemingly flawlessly across the stage. Thank you Bruce and Phil for taking a risk on something new! You obviously commited yourselves and your resources fully to this show. It is by far the best production I have seen TIV (perhaps due to my short time back in Richmond and actively seeing TIV shows, but then again maybe not).

But who cares about my opinion? The real critic in this case, (target audience aged that is) Elinor thought it was wonderful too. She especially enjoyed David Janeski's interpretation of Rumplestiltskin. She knows David from other shows and did not recognized him but not just because of the fake nose. She commented several times on the hilariously wicked duo of Jackie Jones and Matt James as the Queen Mother and the Duke of Bonfire. Jackie your costume has started a fashion war in our house. I know it is not your fault but honey, you do wear that -is it Versache inspired?- neo disco outfit so well! I know you are having fun in that, girl. I could tell by your wicked evil laugh.

I personally fell in love with Richard Koch as the King. He can take his make-up off in front of me anytime.

Biggest disappointment though- Billy Christopher shaved off his alluring whiskers. That might be the only directoral decision I had a problem with. Thank you Dawn Westbrook for killing my fantasy life.

Elinor and I both agreed that the songs were a little repetitive but big caveat here: I generally do not like the music in musicals and I did enjoy the entire show- I was not cringing during the songs which is often the case. (I do not miss the irony here that my favorite show of the season so far, "Urinetown" is a musical but hey, when it is good it is really really good). Elinor's favorite musical music currently is "Spamalot" which is played at least once everyday in her room at very loud volume. A tough bar is set there. IN summary: overall good rating but maybe a little repetitive.

I strongly encourage all theatre lovers in Richmond and surrounding areas to go see "Rumplestiltskin's Daughter". We may have good theatre around here but we rarely have really great theatre and so we must indulge ourselves in it while it is available.


Anonymous said...

I could not agree more! My daughter (also aged 7) and I were also in the opening night audience.
I will say she was slightly disappointed, because she read the marketing that it was a little like "Into the Woods" - and the girl lived and breathed that musical (both on DVD, CD, and at Barksdale) all summer - so that was a tough order to live up to.

Mary, I don't always agree with what and how you say things, but I could have written your entry myself because it so hit the nail on the head for me.
Unlike some of the shorter TheatreIV shows we've seen over the years, it didn't pander. It didn't cut corners in terms of quality.
The performers all seemed to be having a great time.
Even if you don't have kids, it is worth your time to get in on this one. There was much adult laughter througout last night. I just about busted a gut when the amazing Jackie Jones came out. Jackie - you were fierce honey!
So here's my major complaint: the run is too short. Blink and you'll miss it people!

(So Bruce and Phil, while you're taking some risks on productions like this one, why not see if you can get the rights to "Magic Treehouse." It's no "RD," but I know my kid would be one of the first in line. I'm sure she'd lone you her CD.)


Sara Marsden said...

I am really not just saying this because I am the Marketing Director for Theatre IV, but my daughter (aged 3) LOVED the show. She has been talking about it ever since we walked out the theatre doors. I even caught her singing one of the songs (as much as she could remember, she made up the rest) from the show. I look forward to going back again. So glad you and your daughter enjoyed the show, Mary. It's a shame you won't be reviewing it!