Friday, December 7, 2012

Tortoise and the Hare (review)

Photo Credit: Denise Devin.
Spoilers ahoy! 

Christmas maybe more than any other holiday seems designed for children--even the grown up ones.  Hence how appropriate for even such an edgy company as Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group to put on a children's show.  No, not some avant-garde version of Dr. Seus or a classic fairy tale told a la Edward Gorey or Charles Addams (not that I personally would mind any of those).

But something quite straightforward and charming.

The Tortoise and the Hare Make a Holiday Wish takes place in a kind of fairy tale land of talking animals and very descriptive landmarks.  We all know the classic version from Aesop's fables.  The Hare is quick but flighty.  The Tortoise is slow but steady.  Who then will win the race?  This one-act play transforms the basic premise into a longer, deeper story.  Not a particularly complex one, though.  One aimed squarely at those who haven't really gotten past third grade.

Fortunately, I proved wise enough to attend with a dear friend who brought her grandchildren.  They, like the bulk of the audience, got a real kick out of this tale where everybody is getting ready to celebrate the holidays at Princess Catnip's castle (she's a feline fairly princess--a totally charming idea).  Along the way, a variety of songs from such characters as a flower, a snowflake and a pair of humbugs as well as multiple animals pepper the show.  At one point the Hare (Sebastian Munoz) even leads most of the audience into a dance!

Photo Credit: Denise Devin.
My friend's granddaughter was entranced!

The Tortoise has frankly the harder role, at least in terms of having to keep our attention while talking and moving slowly.  Caroline Montes seems pretty clearly to have had dance training because she conveyed all that in interesting ways that have little to do with natural movement.  But then, this really is a live action cartoon more than anything else.  A lovely little bit of live holiday cheer for the very young and the young at heart.  More, something new rather than the same animated specials shown each year over and over and by now easily available on DVD or YouTube. 

Shows are on Sundays at 1pm and 3pm Sundays until December 23, 2012.  The theatre is at 4850 Lankershem Blvd. in North Hollywood.  You can learn more by calling (818) 202-4210

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