THE PIED PIPER'S MAGIC
From the Book by Steven Kellogg
Adapted for the Stage by Linda Daugherty
Music and Lyrics by B. Wolf
Dallas Children's Theater
Director - Robyn Flatt
Stage Manager - Melissa D. Cashion
Scenic Designer - Randel Wright
Lighting Designer - Linda Blaise
Costume Designer - Barbara Cox
Sound Design - Duane Deering
Choreographer - Nancy Shaeffer
Peterkin - Brian Hathaway
Elbavol - Deborah Brown
The Grand Duke - Karl Schaeffer
Young Elbavol/Ensemble - Maddrey Blackwood
Young Duke's Friend/Ensemble - Matthew Brown
Ensemble - Tenaya Griffin
Ensemble - Angela Horn
Town Crier/Ensemble - Maurice Verrett Johnson
Gloria/Ensemble - Mardi Robinson
Young Duke's Friend/Ensemble - Ian Stack
Ensemble - Raleigh Taylor
Ella - Virginia Beshears
Child Duke - Kevin Bissell
Desta - Zoe Long
Child Elbavol - Tara Magill
Flo - Monica Music
Cara - Dorothy Schroy
Ivan - Jacob Segoviana
Belle - Laura Walton
Reviewed Performance 6/17/2011
Reviewed by Kristopher A. Harrison, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Everyone knows the story of the Pied Piper. What you haven't heard is the story of Peterkin the elf, a poor but cheerful fellow, who while wandering through the woods, meets Elbavol, a grouchy old (retired) witch. After Peterkin does her a favor she gives him a mysterious pipe. And this pipe sets up the magical story told in Steven Kellogg's beloved children's book. The Dallas Children's Theater has once again adapted one of Kellogg's illustrated classics into a musical stage experience utilizing the talents of playwright-in-residence Linda Daughtery and musician B. Wolf. The pair has adapted other of Kellogg's works for the Dallas Children's Theater in the past. For fans of Kellogg's book, the show was much anticipated. Kellogg himself was at the premiere which greatly added to the opening night buzz that permeated the audience.
When the curtain came up that magical feeling continued. Randel Wright and Linda Blaise collaborated to create a setting that was a combination of drapery and video projections. They used images straight from the book, creating lush forests, dreary cities, and magical moments. As the play went on, however, it became a show more about lighting and sound cues than about the heart of a kind elf. While the technical work and special effects were impressive it seemed that director Flatt was so impressed with their creation that she lost something of the story in the process. There were several moments throughout the show without any dialogue or action other than what was happening on the screens. The result was a show that lost energy from moment to moment and song to song, and ended up feeling a bit I noted that the same audience who couldn't wait to get in the theatre before the show was mildly milling around the lobby during intermission.
Not all was lost, however. There were some strong performances, most notably Brian Hathaway as Peterkin the piping elf. Hathaway stood out, serving as the "Dirk Nowitski" of the production, carrying the other actors on his talented shoulders all the way to the final curtain. His voice was warm and inviting during the musical numbers and his characterization of Peterkin made the character endearing and relatable. I wished he had less time wandering alone through the forest and more time interacting with others. His moments with Elbavol the witch were solid though and Deborah Brown was another seasoned actor who turned in a solid performance. It is not often that one roots for a witch but after seeing this character in flashback, with a stirring duet between Brown and the very appealing Maddrey Blackwood, we all wanted nothing but the best for her and knew that Peterkin could deliver.
Karl Schaeffer lit up the stage as the comic highlight of the show and if the show's energy had kept up all the way to the finale he would have shone even more. His Grand Duke was sufficiently grouchy without being scary for younger audience members, and his parade around the audience while he was covered with rats was priceless.
Certainly not to be overlooked was the youth ensemble. There was not a weak link among them and each showed signs of a promising future in acting. Especially fun to watch was Ian Stack and Matthew Brown though each member of the ensemble did an excellent job of singing and staying in the moment throughout the show.
All in all, the story is an entertaining and uplifting tale that is worth sharing with your children. It is not often that you can see a moral and ethical lesson emerge from a show like this and not feel preached to. Peterkin the elf sets a noble example for each of us to follow and kids need to be exposed to more stories like this one. The songs are catchy and likeable and the production is solid. If all of Kellogg's books are this fun I'm his newest fan.
THE PIED PIER'S MAGIC
Dallas Children's Theater
Rosewood Center for Family Arts
5938 Skillman Street, Dallas, 75231
Fridays June 17-July 15 at 7:30 pm
Saturdays June 18-July 16 at 1:30 and 4:30 pm
Sundays June 19-July 17 at 1:30 and 4:30 pm
NOTE: No performances on July 2nd and 3rd
Run time around 1 hour, 20 minutes, with one intermission.
Tickets are $14 to $25
Weekday Student Matinee performances are available Tuesdays through Thursdays. For tixs & info go to www.dct.org or c