Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Sinbad The Sailor --- PANTO"

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note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Larry Stark

"The Fantastic Voyage of
winter panto 2010

Written by The Ensemble
Based on A Story Idea by Matthew Woods

Directed by Matthew Woods
Costume Design by Cotton Talbot-Minkin
Lighting Design by Bailey Costa
Set Design & Construction by Matthew Woods, Mac Young & Ensemble
Shell Design by Mac Young
Board Operators Michael Underhill and Leanne
Props, etc. by The Ensemble
Production Assistance by Michael Underhill

The Storyteller...................Mac Young
The Sultan.....................Mauro Canepa
The Astrologers Three
Al-KaZaam.......Joey Pelletier
Al-KaZoo..........Jenny Reagan
Al-KaSeltzer........Kiki Samko
Princess Polka-Dot................Amy Meyer
Zola, the Gorgon.................Amie Cazel
The Kitchen Boy (Sesame)........Alex Simoes
Sinbad...........................Erin Brehm
Sinbad's Mother...............Matthew Woods
The Old Man of The Sea............Mac Young
The Good Fairy.................Jenny Reagan
Captain Manchego...............Mauro Canepa
Abu & Ali.......Joey Pelletier & Kiki Samko
Serena, the Octopus..............Kiki Samko
The Ancient Sea Hag..........Joey Pelletier

One way to make successful theater for children is to appeal to the child in grown-ups. Put a pretty young girl in brown burlap and call her The Gorgon Zola, and you can rattle off a whole string of cheesy puns; if the only insightful astrologer is not Al-KaZaam or Al-KaZoo but Al-KaSeltzer, you can get all ages in the audience singing her praises with the chant "Plop-plop-FIZZ-FIZZ!; the audience can help the hero pull in a net chanting the HO! to his Heave!; the audience can protect the story-book by shouting "AliBaBa!" if anyone but the Storyteller tries to touch it; and when a bumbling kitchen-boy gets a new name everyone can help him remember what it is when he asks "Sez-a-who?" by answering "SesaME!!!". That's how things work in Panto-land.

It helps, too, to have the serious imagination and sense of pure Fun that Matthew Woods brings to all of his boisterously physical Imaginary Beasts productions. Characters whirl in circles while thinking out loud. The Old Man of The Sea --- actually the Storyteller in a very fake kelp-colored beard --- can insist on a game of "S'pozin'" asking "S'pose you could choose this, or that?" but hear everyone choose "The other!" (and better than both!) before granting One wish and One Only [That's The Rule!]. And the setting may be Turkey ruled by a Sultan, but that won't prevent the hero Sinbad (played by a girl) from having a many-costumed mother (played by Matthew Woods, actually) with a broad Gloucestah-Mass accent. Half the fun of the show is watching old familiar stories collide with one another. And when the plot needs magic from a good fairy (Named Fairy Fawcette, with a plunger-wand in her hand), all bets are off!

There's a beautiful Princess slowly decaying under an evil spell (First a barnicle on the nose, then hair sprouting seaweed, a foot then two sprouting frog-flippers and hands becoming lobster-claws while her pretty gown turns the color of the sea (And it's not easy, being green!) What's needed of course is a hero who can dive to the bottom of the sea to find a huge magic pearl. And that brings on a sort of dance-line of pulsating jellyfish, a tap-dancing octopus named Serena, a captain with a pair of apparently ex-piratical crew-members --- and you'll have to take my word for a happy-ending on dry land, until you can get over to the Gloucester Stage during the show's next, last week-end of kids-and-grownups-delighting performances.

One of the magical elements here is a series of sumptuously colorful costumes by a threadneedle-wizard named Cotton Talbot-Minkin. Her purple octopus, with eight short armes lined with cowrie-shell suckers, her sumptuously-turbanned Sultan, the pointy-curled golden slippers for Sinbad's Mom, her brightly-patterned robes for the Storyteller --- the dozens of duds that people quick-change into new characters with are, everywhere, inspired and inventive and delightful.

So's the show, no matter how old you get! And

===Anon. ( a k a larry stark )

"The Fantastic Voyage of Sinbad The Sailor" (22 - 31 January)
1 (978)500-5553

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide