Monday, December 3, 2012

Magic Flute, Talespinner Children’s Theatre

(Lauren B. Smith and Troy Bruchwalski)

There is wonder afoot on the west side for children as Magic Flute spins its web around everyone, from toddlers on up, at Talespinner Children’s Theatre.

Adapted from the Mozart opera by Anne McEvoy, this one-hour production features all kinds of kid-pleasing elements: audience participation, colorful costumes, captivating performances, inventive set pieces and a story that’s pretty easy to follow.

In this much condensed and child-friendly telling, the bird catcher Papageno is talked into portraying a prince by the three ladies who attend the nasty Queen of the Night. When Papageno is confronted by the Queen, she makes him go through tests (much against her sensible husband’s Sorastro’s wishes) until, with the aid of his flute, he wins the day. And the Queen discovers happiness.

Under Alison Garrigan’s lilting direction, the actors find many ways to entice and attract their youthful audience. Troy Bruchwalski is handsome and quite funny as Papageno, aided at times by his dedicated gal pal Papagena (an adorable Lauren B. Smith).

Michael Regnier lends heft to the wise Sorastro and the three ladies (Elaine Feagler, Tania Benites and Charles Hargrave) chirp and mince about with amusing deftness. The only character that doesn’t quite come across clearly is Monostatos (Hargrave again), Sorastro’s aide of sorts.

But all is saved by Heather Stout’s Queen, a sneering stack of grimaces and complaints until Papageno’s magic flute tames her serpent and she mellows out in bliss.

It’s a happy ending that is well earned, and one that should please all little kids (and their wranglers) who attend this fanciful flight.

Magic Flute
Through December 23 at Talespinner Children’s Theatre, the Reinberger Auditorium, 5209 Detroit Ave., 216-264-9680

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