Pink pigs, Little Red make lively theater
By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Special to The Advertiser
|||'Pacific Tales for Young People'
McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Beach Park
9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., Saturdays through May 8
'The Little, Little Red Riding Hood Show'
McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Beach Park
1:30 and 4:30 p.m., Saturdays through May 15
Each show $12, $6; 839-9885
How do you approach a squirmy audience that may be more interested in what's going on outside the window than in what's happening on stage? How do you get a youngster involved in the action? And how much and how do you control it?
It helps to start with something large and colorful.
"Pacific Tales for Young People" follows up on last year's "Hawaii Tales," and "Musubi Man" from Honolulu Theatre for Youth's 2002 season, both of which were aimed at this age group. The result seems more comfortable and natural each year.
The stories were compiled and directed by Daniel A. Kelin II. The first is from the Philippines "Cry of the Baby Crocodile" and the second is Australian "The Really Big Frog." The last story is made up on the spot with full audience participation.
A single actor handles the crowd, with HTY players BullDog and Hermen "Junior" Tesoro alternating performances.
BullDog controlled the Magic Box Saturday at the McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Beach Park. A veteran of both earlier productions, BullDog is clearly in his comfort zone, morphing among the characters like a big, warm, friendly blob of silly putty.
He is helped out in the "Crocodile" piece by a pair of bubblegum-pink pig puppets Cheerful and Selfish.
The big prop in "Big Frog" is a green head built on a large umbrella, with bulging eyes and a hinged mouth. The selfish frog swallows up all the available water, prompting the other animals to try various ways to get it back out. Laughing seems to work better than scaring in this respect.
The last, participative story is built from a string of leading prompts:
"Once upon a time, there was a (blank)."
"Who wanted (blank)."
"So he went (blank) and ran into (blank), who said (blank)."
By this point in the show, the 3-year-olds are deep into the mode and shout out their ideas. BullDog complies, taking the entire audience someplace new.
Russell Davis' "The Little, Little Red Riding Hood Show" uses a remarkably sophisticated text for a play aimed at an audience of 5-year-olds and up.
For starters, all the characters in this version are a bit tired of repeating the basic plot. After all, it's nearly 1,000 years old, and fresh changes are needed to keep it insightful and interesting.
But Little Red (Monica Cho Coldwell) is suspicious of too much free reign at least as far as the Wolf is concerned. "Don't encourage him," she admonishes the audience, "Or the story will change."
Little Red displays a jaded point of view. She's been down the same path too many times and has lost her naiveté. She likes things to be objective and precise and will literally spell words out for you.
Wolf (Moses Goods III) is a bit full of himself. Feeling good, he's smug and smart-alecky. Feeling down, he morosely quotes Shakespeare and goes into self-indulgent riffs over Little Red's claim that wolves see things only in black and white (he's much too introspective and subtle for that).
Mother (Janice Terukina) offers her own homilies on the role she plays. And it's the mother who shows up disguised as the Hunter to slay the Wolf and save the day.
Grandmother (Cynthia See) is equally self-aware, especially about being swallowed whole by the ravenous Wolf. Eager to promote that experience, she persuades two young audience members to climb up into her bed to join her in being eaten whole.
Director Mark Lutwak keeps the action moving at the right pace. And set designer Mark Harada uses fold-outs, pop-downs, and moving dioramas to create a colorful background.
And everybody has a lot of fun watching the characters get swallowed up and cut out of the Wolf's big stomach.