Last night marked the debut of CATCO is Kids’ new season for 2012-2013 and also of their new name. CATCO and The Phoenix Theatre for Children merged back in 2010 and the new name of CATCO is Kids ties it into the CATCO brand while maintaining the younger element.
CATCO Artistic Director Steven C. Anderson has adapted the well known tales of Beatrix Potter into a play that brings together three friends who do performances for audiences. Edith Dinger Wadkins designed the set to be the Mr. McGregor’s garden and it is beautifully done.
Joanna Van Sickle is quite animated as Gwendolyn and is excited about the audience, while Ben Sostrom’s character Bernard is quite put off with having an audience. “He might not like children at all,” says Gwendolyn of his sour mood. However, Bernard does like himself quite so and he also enjoys poking jabs and being “beastly” to Alexandra, played by Alise Randall.
Randall takes the jabs with quite a lot of whining, which leads to much pouting from Sostrom. Their fighting to seem to wear a bit thin as the hour passes. If the group focused more on their great storytelling, it would be quite a lovely time.
The three perform two stories, that of Jemima Puddle Duck and of Peter Rabbit. The subtle outfit changes are cute. Ruth Boyd has some imaginative ideas for costumes. A large white loofah for a rabbit tale? What fun! And it is a nice touch that two children from the audience are chosen to participate on stage for each story.
Sostrom portrays both Peter Rabbit and the Elegantly Dressed Gentleman with the bushy tail quite well. Van Sickle is a wonderful narrator and when she gets into characters like Kep the Dog (among others) she is really entertaining. Randall looks to have a great time guiding two children as Mopsy and Flopsy and she makes a funny oblivious to the obvious Jemima Puddle Duck.
I went with my five year old and while he did like the stories being told, the arguing between characters bored him a bit. Perhaps children a little older would have a more enjoyable time.
The Tales of Beatrix Potter shows in Studio One of the Riffe Center at 77 South High Street in Downtown Columbus. Remaining performances include November 10, 11, 17, and 18 with performances at 1pm and 2:30pm, with an additional performance at 4pm on Saturday, November 17. Tickets are $20 (plus fees). For more information, visit catco.org/catcoiskids.