LAUGHTER IN THE STARSAdapted by Jeff Swearingen
from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince
Director - Jeff Swearingen
Producer - Bren Rapp
Animation - Jay Shuh
Sound Effects - Mike Vernusky
Lights and Sound - Dennis Cutillo
Projectionist - Chris Rapp
Little Prince Costumer - Ilona Warn
Production Intern - Marisa Mendoza
The Young Pilot - Jack Waterman
Adult Woman/Astronomer - Tess Cutillo
Adult Man/The Business Man - Josh LeBlanc
The Pilot - Shane Beeson
The Little Prince - Jaxon Beeson
The Rose - Kennedy Waterman
The King - Brad Weatherford
The Vain Man - Jeremy LeBlanc
The Drunkard/The Geographer - Doak Rapp
The Lantern Man - Jack Weatherford
The Snake - Andy Baldwin
The Fox - Jeff Swearingen
Reviewed Performance: 6/29/2012
Reviewed by Danny Macchietto, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I qualify its success due to the range of young talent that was on display from the nine individuals who exhibited much exuberance and presence on stage. They were generously aided by the presence of three adult performers, local favorites Andy Baldwin and Jeff Swearingen and the natural ease of Shane Beeson.
I admit freely that I have not read the original source material. There is a pile of books that I am checking off of my bucket list. I am slowly reading myself down it, but after seeing this production I believe that The Little Prince will not only earn a place on my list, but it may very well nudge itself towards the top.
The broad strokes of the story can be easily described as an interplanetary road trip of a young prince who travels by way of shooting stars. Every pit stop exposes the young lad to an unfortunate adult's downbeat, philosophical bent of their own misfortune. All this is told through the framework of a deserted pilot in the Sahara, whom the prince befriends.
Such description does not even begin to do justice to De Saint-Exupery's dreamlike and decadent prose: "One sees clearly with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes," "You come responsible, forever, for what you have tamed," "It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears", and "Language is the source of misunderstandings".
There are many more lines that I wrote down in my steno pad throughout the performance, each one striking a similar emotional response, because of the deft approach that Swearingen directed his actors to handle the delicate and atmospheric dialogue.
The rich atmosphere was further developed by Jay Schuh's animation techniques projected against the background, the stage being dominantly black and bare, with various tables and chairs brought out during the Prince's planet surfing adventures.
Jaxon Beeson as the Little Prince gave a very thoughtful and determined performance playing opposite his father, Shane Beeson as the stranded Pilot. Little Beeson was at his best playing opposite his father and the other adult actors, Andy Baldwin as the Snake, and Jeff Swearingen as the Fox. It was in the scenes that Beeson played against the other youth actors that the show was sometimes in search of a more assured anchor.
Each planetary vignette stood alone as a charming piece into itself, but contrasted against the scenes with the adults, these pieces provided an uneven whole. Some of this was due to the transitioning of the Prince's travel. The animation technique of shooting stars against the backdrop with the Little Prince hanging on was a nifty and efficient use of space and effects, but the predictability of it became tedious. The same blocking, sound effects, and lighting were used at least 8 times in the production to achieve this effect when variations would have been well suited to assist in the pacing of its 90 minute running time with no intermission.
These issues are slight; however, as Fun House Theatre & Film offered its students a perfect outlet to test their sea legs and introduced children and adults to a necessary literary classic.
Fun House Theatre & Film
Plano Children's Theatre, 1301 Custer Road, Suite 706, Plano, 75075
Limited run completed on July 1st