Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Aesop’s Pirate Adventure, Talespinner Children’s Theatre

Pirates are on the prowl in this latest offering from the always engaging folks at Talespinner.

Written by Michael Sepesy, this frequently amusing journey hooks us up with Bluebeard (Carrie Williams), Redbeard (Katelyn Cornelius) and Peach Fuzz (Christopher Walker) as they search for treasure in the Greek isles.

Along the way they meet a spirit, Aesop, who always has another tale handy that throws the pirates into new characters and provides a helpful lesson. Eventually, the pirates learn it all and are back on their ship, a wiser bunch.

Sepesy’s sense of humor infuses much of the proceedings, his pirate version of the alphabet song—every letter is “Arrr!”—being a prime example. This keeps the kiddies as well as their adult handlers amused. But there are a few too many meta digressions that lengthen the production and tend to convolute the story line.

The five-person cast handles their chores well, involving the audience and animating their characters with verve under the spirited direction of Cathleen O’Malley.

Kate Miller and Benjamin Gregg stand out as the Gray Sisters, a strange, muumuu attired duo that lures the bearded ones onto a magical island. This in-joke is evidently based on the real-life Beale sisters from the film doc and then the stage musical Grey Gardens, who lived on the magical isle named Long. It’s a subtle reference that will fly high above kids’ heads but be enough to keep Big Edie and Little Edie fans squirming with glee.

However, the best character may be Gregg’s falsetto “muskrat/cow” that looks and sounds like Mickey (or Minnie?) Mouse, right down to the puffy white-gloved hands. Sepesy should get to work immediately on writing a fable around this creature, trademarks be damned.

Thanks to colorful costumes and go-for-broke acting, this is another in Talespinner’s ever-growing line of wonderful shows for little tykes.

Aesop’s Pirate Adventure
Through April 27, produced by Talespinner Children’s Theatre at The Reinberger Auditorium, 5209 Detroit Avenue, 216-264-9680.

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