OREM — Well, the grandkids loved Little Red at the SCERA, and that is probably enough of a review for the average parent or grandparent. I took three of my grands in the 8-10 year-old range to see the opening performance on Monday. “What did you like?” I asked them. Their reply: “All of it.” “What did you not like?” “Nothing.”
No big surprise there. Grandchildren are rarely theatre critics, and these SCERA adaptations of children’s stories are full of bright, happy music (though cribbing one song from Gilbert and Sullivan was a little risky). Little Red also features energetic dancing (or at least movement), and clever dialogue, some of which is accessible even to 10 year-olds. Yet, adults are not ignored: whether it is intentional or just that even when writing for children adults cannot ignore references and allusions that will be beyond the primary audience. Many of these were a lot of fun.
Little Red is the third offering in a series of Chase Ramsey (book)/David Paul Smith (music and lyrics) collaborations, advertised by SCERA as world premieres. Previous offerings were Peter Pan’s Great Adventure (which I did not see) and Alice in Wonderland (which I did). As we are told in the playbill, and by Chase himself before the performance, these are designed to teach a “helpful lesson” to children. In Peter, children were taught to follow their dreams; in Alice, it was follow the rules (though, as I recall, that message was somewhat muddled). In Little Red, the lesson for he audience is to be brave—but careful. That message was conveyed, but so were a number of counsels to children about paths to follow (and not follow) through the journey of life.
It is always a pleasure, even in an intellectually undemanding presentation, to watch talented and enthusiastic performers. Rilee Crump (in the role of Little Red), TJ Thomas (as the Carpenter and the Wolf), Nicolas Thomas (as the Butcher), Chase Ramsey (as the Woodsman), and Shannon Follette (as the Mother Red, Grandma Red, and more) were those performers. Even when the story didn’t quite hold together, the cast held the audience’s attention, interjecting just the right amount of audience engagement and participation.
I saw the opening performance, and the show runs until February 23. I expect the performance will tighten up during the run, and be even more satisfying than it was for me and my grandchildren.
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