Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Emperor’s Ears, Talespinner Children’s Theatre


When a gaggle of country folk are given a looking glass, you’d think they’d be happy. Turns out, not so much—in the delightful children’s play The Emperor’s Ears, now at the Talespinner Children’s Theatre.

This adaptation of a Serbian folktale by Michael Sepesy has plenty of humor, heart and audience participation, so that even the slow spots don’t mar the charming story it presents.

Once the townspeople start seeing themselves in the mirror, they are horrified to see that they’re really ugly. Says one to the peddler who brought the glass, “How dare you depress us with the sight of our own faces!”

To mollify them, the peddler (an enthusiastic Katelyn Cornelius) tells them the title story, about an emperor’s son who was born with goat ears.

The Prince (Ben Merold) gets upset when people mention his ears, so he throws them in a pit. That strategy works fine until he is left alone and learns he has to find another way to deal with his unusual appearance.

It’s a story about finding one’s inner beauty that’s perfectly suited for kids—with some added chuckles provided by Sepesy that only the adults will get.

At one point, one of the town’s rubes explains a nonsensical action by saying, “We’re simple country people. Nothing we do makes any sense.” All parents who have read countless fables to their tiny tots should nod in appreciation.

As directed by Alison Garrigan, the six-person ensemble performs with verve and specificity. These also include Andrew Gombas, Carrie Williams (perfect as a particularly snarky “mean girl”), Daniel Grambow and Cathleen O’Malley as the girl who can only tell the truth.

While not as visually stimulating as some TCT productions, Ears is well-structured and keeps the story uppermost, a good thing so that the youngest patrons can stay connected to the action.

Talespinner is a marvelous entertainment resource for kids of all ages, and their theater should be packed. So bring your kids, grandkids and their friends to experience some stage magic live and in person.

The Emperor’s Ears
Through July 6, produced by Talespinner Children’s Theatre at the Reinberger Auditorium, 5209 Detroit Ave., 216-264-9680

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