Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Cast of Chicken Little!!!

Cape Cod Time review of Chicken Little... " Very Worth Seeing!"

July 31, 2008
HYANNIS — "Chicken Little" is bigger than you might expect.

Bigger as in more characters, more costumes, more scenery and, most important, more laughs.

The littlest actors — namely, the brood of seven chicks, are too cute for words. But it's the older kids who turn in performances that elevate this children's story from something relatives must see to 75 minutes that hold appeal for a wider variety of theatergoers.

Story adapters John Sullivan and Ed O'Toole, who also directs, wrote in their drama club blog that they wanted to put in layers that would make this story of the sky falling into a tale for all ages. They've successfully done that, turning Chicken Little (Ashley Goverman in Tuesday's opening night, alternating with Emma Charpentier) into a gullible investigative reporter and Foxy Loxy (Ethan Brown) into a con man who tricks the hens into leaving their coops (places like "Bost-hen" and "Cooperstown") so he can steal eggs.

In this version, Turkey Lurkey (Megan Corrigan) is a spin doctor for the mayor, Booster Rooster (Tommy Myers). In her rumpled trench coat with tail feathers sticking out, Turkey Lurkey lurks around like the offspring of TV detective Columbo and Communist witch hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy. There may also be a hint of Richard Nixon; it's hard to say.

Any child of the '60s who grew up in front of Saturday morning cartoons will recognize the stuttering but pompous Booster Rooster as reminiscent of Foghorn Leghorn, with his trademark, "I-I-I say, son, I say." But the character also brings to mind the last Democratic president. Either way, Myers nails it.

Henny Penny (Shannon Pacella in a role shared with Caitlin Corrigan) is more like comedian Henny Youngman, stuffed with zingers that make you simultaneously groan and laugh. "She takes three hours at the beauty parlor — for an estimate," HP taunts, talking about the Ugly Duckling (Johanna Regan), the elegant and ugly-no-more swan in a gown and lovely white feathered plume.

There's great chemistry (Can you say that about cartoon characters?) between Foxy Loxy and his dumb sidekick, Merritt the Ferret (Jason Pacella), and between Chicken Little and her sidekick, Ducky Lucky (Maddie Sicard). As Foxy, Brown is a fast talker who even moves slyly, with a balletic grace. It's that quality James Cagney had when playing gangsters. Sicard is hilarious with her bow-legged walk and baseball jersey, evoking TV sportswriter Oscar Madison.

So if you peel back all these layers and references, you have a sweet little tale of a bunch of children's story characters learning important life lessons from their mistakes. But if you happen to be a baby boomer, you get all the inside jokes too. It's very like "Shrek" that way and it's very worth seeing.

On stage

What: "Chicken Little:
A Fractured Fairy Tale"
Presented by: Barnstable Summer Family Theater
When: 7 tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday through Aug. 8
Where: Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center,
744 W. Main St., Hyannis
Tickets: $8
Reservations: 508-771-6246

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


CHICKEN LITTLE Continues the Celebration in
Barnstable Summer Family Theater’s 20th Season

The Wizard of OZ may have left the building, but that doesn’t mean that the Barnstable Summer Family Theater is planning to rest on its laurels and head for the beach just yet, especially in its 20th anniversary season. Hot on the heels of the Cape’s largest musical ever, Producer John Sullivan and Director Ed O’Toole are presenting another of their original takes on familiar stories, in the tradition of their recent favorites like The Lost Treasure of Blackbeard and The Real Untold Story of Cinderella.

This summer, it’s their version of Chicken Little, whose warning that the sky is falling leads to disaster for his barnyard companions at the hands (or claws) of the crafty Foxy Loxy. In the Sullivan-O’Toole rendition, Chicken Little again squares off against that egg-stealing villain, but this time he has a little extra help from a couple of unexpected friends that may just change the outcome of the story.

Chicken Little, a would-be radio news reporter, is hot on the trail of a big scoop, the annual inspection tour of the Egg King when she stumbles on another, even bigger story. According to her sources, a certain Professor von Hokumschlinger and his assistant, Doctor Dummkopf, the sky is falling and the only safe haven for CL’s barnyard companions are the dreaded Deep Dark Woods. What the gullible CL doesn’t realize, of course, is that the nefarious Foxy Loxy disguises himself and his weaselly assistant Merritt the Ferret as von Hokumschlinger and Dummkopf so that the animals will flee the barnyard and leave their treasure trove of eggs unguarded.

True to BSFT tradition, this is a story not just suitable for all ages, but appealing to them as well. O’Toole calls Chicken Little a play “in the tradition of Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett, classic animators whose cartoons are full of puns and jokes that work on more than one level.”
Sullivan adds, “With that kind of humor and the colorful costumes and sets the Summer Family Theater is known for, we think that everyone who got such a kick out of OZ is going to love Chicken Little.”

In fact, quite a few of the young actors who played Munchkins, flying monkeys and citizens of Oz will be in the cast of 40. As always, BSFT casts include a wide range of ages; this year’s cast ranges in age from 6 to 18. “It’s such a great chance for younger children who may not always have a chance to be on stage or have a speaking part to gain experience. We always make sure that everybody on stage has a line or two or some unique bit of stage business that allows him or her to have a ’spotlight’ moment,” O’Toole notes.

“We want to make sure that kids see being on stage as a chance to have fun, no matter their ability, “ Sullivan adds. “Not everybody can sing or dance, but there’s always something individual a person can bring to the production, and we try to find that something.”

Chicken Little opens on Tuesday, July 29 and continues on July 30 and 31 nad August 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8. All shows are at 7 PM in the air-conditioned Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center on West main Street, Hyannis. Tickets are 10 dollars and may be reserved by calling the BHS Drama Club at (508) 771-6246.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cape Cod Times Review, July 12, 2008

'Oz' delivers wicked good fun

July 12, 2008 6:00 AM

HYANNIS — Got Munchkins? Get them to Oz.

Temporarily (and this is very handy), it's located on West Main Street, in the Barnstable High School auditorium, where the Barnstable Summer Family Theater is reprising the school drama club's wildly popular production of "The Wizard of Oz."

Let's get to the external smasheroo stuff first: This production looks mahvelous, from the elaborate sets (muted-tone cornfields in Kansas, a surreal Munchkinland) to the astonishing handmade costumes (there could not be a yard of primary-color cloth left on the Cape).

Kudos go to set designers John Sullivan (the director), Ethan Brown and Vanessa Varjian and costume queen Karen Mannal, but one can only imagine the army of artists, carpenters and seamstresses required to pull this off.

The special effects (led by Chris Houghton and Chad Goddard) are astonishing and, even in a story we know well, capable of a surprise or two. Suffice it to say that people, witches and houses appear and disappear in satisfying and often amusing ways.

But beneath all the colorful moving parts is a huge cast of talented young people who populate poppy fields (adorable tykes in flower costumes), the electric Emerald City, Munchkinland, creepy forests and the even creepier castle of the Wicked Witch. There are enough townspeople and flying monkeys and forest inhabitants to fill a Hollywood sound stage, and, under Sullivan's direction, they are not background set pieces: They are integral parts of the play. They're terrific.

And they support an equally talented and enthusiastic main cast.

As Dorothy, Kelly Mosher is pitch-perfect, both in lovely voice and in her ability to make us worry about her fate, even though most of us have seen Judy Garland do the same about 1.4 million times. Ethan Brown delivers the most choreographed performance as the forever-flopping Scarecrow, and Shane Harris' Tin Man is suitably sweet. Your heart breaks for the sans-heart woodsman. Of course, Matt Kohler, as the Cowardly Lion, has the juiciest role, and he does not disappoint, conjuring up Bert Lahr in a way that drew gales of laughter from Thursday night's audience.

Arielle Catania gives her Wicked Witch the kind of cackling and menace that has scared generations of children, and Devon Gruenstern provides the opposite — glittery goodness — for Glinda, who makes big-time entrances. (Although almost everything in this production is big-time.)

A shout-out for Joey Bearse, who, once Dorothy lands in Oz, takes over the role of Toto from a real dog. He may not have any actual lines, but he has to scamper around like crazy on that stage (and beyond), and he never lets up.

...let me note here that the dialogue from the 1939 movie, courtesy of screenwriters Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf, comes shining through. You forget how apt lines like "Some people without a brain do an awful lot of talking" were then — and are now.

And the songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, from the achingly poignant "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to the hilariously goofball "If I Were King of the Forest," are paid well-justified homage by this delightful cast, aided by some fine local musicians in the orchestra.

Of course, we all have L. Frank Baum to thank for the original book. His wickedly good idea has endured quite nicely through the years.

on stage

What: "The Wizard of Oz"

Performed by: Barnstable High School Drama Club
Presented by: Barnstable Summer Family Theater
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
Where: Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center, 744 W. Main St., Hyannis
Tickets: $10
Reservations: 508-771-6246

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hyannis 4th of July Parade.

The Hyannis Main Street 4th of July Parade - Our float won the Grand Marshall Award!

4th of July Parades!!!

Pictures from the West Barnstable Parade 9:30am July 4th.