Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Splat Frankie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark

"Splat Frankie"

by Sheila Leavitt & The Company
Designed & Directed by Sheila Leavitt

Costume Design & Construction by Katy Peterson
Stage Manager Binni Hackett


Maya Bermudes, Tyler Glenn Bigony, Meggie Bowling, Paddy Bowling, Tomas Bowling, Davy Brian, Steffanie Brian, Nyssa Bryant, Ruthanne Callen, Cole Chadwick, Gracie Chadwick, Whitney Chapman, Andrea Cipollone, Vanessa Conlon, Luke Damrosch, Abigail Dickson, Claire Dickson, Rachel Dranoff, Lauren Farenga, Sebastian Gold, Florent Hackett, Tristan Hackett, Benjamin Harris, Clayton Hawthorne, Giles Holt, Isabelle Holt, Hannah Hutt, Cameron Jenkins, Zack Jenkins, Suzannah Jones, Elena Kreiger-Benson, Bryce Kroll, Perry Kroll, Jeff Landale, Jodie Liebowitz, Amos Lichtman, Ezra Lichtman, Xavier Marvel, Eric McDonald, Chris Migner, Julia Migner, Taylor Migner, Caleb Nelson, Alex O'Connell, Nicolas Peterson, Zachary Peterson, Sa,lly Regan Ruderman, Joe Verran, Emily Van Heukelom, Noah Van Heukelom, John Webster,

"For the third year in a row, The Puddlejump Players are celebrating their Gala Tenth Anniversary Season!!"
So said their program. The company certainly should be celebrated for its inventiveness and imagination, its sly wit, and the sheer boundless energy that have made it grow from a home-schooling project into an annual seven-ring circus of exciting theater by kids for kids --- from eight-year veteran performers to precocious little scene-stealers. This year the company members and their Director Sheila Leavitt wrote "Splat Frankie" --- the trials and tribulations of a boy accidentally mashed paper-thin by his well-meaning brother.

The costume Bryce Kroll wore certainly (magically!) kept him as smoothly broad and razor-edged as he might be had a huge picture fallen on him in the night. ("The Velcro didn't keep it up," said Joe Verran playing his brother, "Next time I'll try duct-tape!") But since his mother (Vanessa Conlon) was a Martha Stuart like-a-look the problem became what to do about flat "Splat Frankie". That included a couple visits to weird doctors who were of no help at all, but soon turned to taking positive advantage of the situation. Frankie could crawl into an envelope to mail himself (first class) to California to visit a friend at ranger camp; he could fly like a kite; he could slip himself into a frame to pretend to be his own portrait in order to catch a gang of sneak-thieves; and he could try to join the circus --- all before returning to three-dimensionality.

The many neatly played parts in this extravaganza are literally too numerous to mention --- a "Geek Chorus" for instance numbered twenty-five! --- and many in the hordes of performers kept disappearing and reappearing in several roles.

A Puddlejump production is full of elaborate sets that betray their origins. Three cardboard cartons, for instance, stacked lengthwise, became a phone-booth from one side, but a doctor's skeleton from another. The elaborate circus-tent that dropped from the flies was a colorfully sketched single curtain with gaudy cloth accents.

But the most important thing about the show was the dedication of all participants, on stage and back stage, getting their first taste or eighth or tenth taste of the magic that is live theater.


"Splat Frankie" (10 - 12 May)
Tower Auditorium, Mass College of Art, 621 Huntington Avenue, MA
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THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide