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Petite Rouge

a Children's Theater
CATEGORY :
by Joan Cushing

COMPANY : Synchronicity Performance Group [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 4259

SHOWING : February 25, 2012 - March 25, 2012

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

A swamp chorus sings backup in this foot-stomping zydeco musical steeped in hot sauce. Imagine a Cajun Red Riding Hood with a big, bad gator in the wolf role, and a wild chase through Mardi Gras. From the playwright and composer of the Junie B. Jones and Miss Nelson musicals.

“AS SNAPPY AS A STRING OF CAYENNE PEPPERS.” – The Washington Times




CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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Into the Swamp
by Dedalus
Monday, March 19, 2012
4.5
It’s a familiar tale – a young girl wearing a red cape goes on a journey through a danger-filled swamp to bring her ailing Granny some Gumbo (with cornbread and hot sauce). Along the way, she is tempted by a HUNGRY gator who does all he can to tempt her from the path.

Okay, maybe it’s a Cajun twist on a familiar tale, but, to my mind, that flavors it with enough hot sauce to make me stand up and shout “A-HOO-AH!” Welcome to the zydeco-flavored mini-musical, “Petite Rouge,” currently being given a rousing romp by Synchronicity Theatre. This a show filled with toe-tapping musical numbers, colorful Mardi-Gras-inspired costumes, extreme over-the-top characters, and an almost-familiar story.

Directed by the energetically talented Justin Anderson (Synchronicity’s “Best Christmas Pageant Ever”), it is a high-octane kid’s play, certain to please the 5-to-10-year-old set and their parents alike (In fact, I did enjoy it a bit more than my own 11-year-old gator-ette, who “liked some of it”). It offers opportunities to sing along, shout along, even dance along with its bayou bunch, and left me leaving the theatre humming the virtues of hot sauce (Don’t go into the swamp without it!).

I really liked Brian Harrison’s Gator-with-a-Gastronomic-Goal Claude, whose “I’m Hungry” (“It’s French for ‘What‘s on the menu?’”) is an early highlight. He struts, he preens, he plots, and he salivates over the tasty morsel that has wandered too close to his eatery, and, his comeuppance is equally joyous to behold. Also on tap are Renita James’ petulant and resourceful “Petite Rouge,” Steven D. Brun’s geeky cat “Tejean,” and an ensemble filled with characters created by Michael Stiggers (“Frog” and others), Taryn Janelle (“Crayfish” and others), and Jessica De Maria (“Turtle” and others). Six people creating a vast swampy populace that really knows how to “Let the Good Times Roll.”

The book, music and lyrics are by the wonderful Joan Cushing, who has given us previous Synchronicity “Family” shows “Miss Nelson is Missing” and “Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business.” She seems to have the pulse of the under-ten crowd, and, indeed, the packed house at this show were squirm-free and enraptured (it probably helps that our villainous Claude bears as much resemblance to a Gator as chalk does to cheese). There were enough puns and references to keep us grown-ups happy, with plenty of bright and vivid characters (and short running time) to satisfy the bored pre-tween

On a technical level, Set Designer Jeffery Martin, Light Designer Katie McCreary, and Sound Designer Erica French have filled the small 7 Stages Black Box with a smoky swampy shacky atmosphere in which I could almost smell the moldering plant life and amphibian home life before Petite Rouge even starts her adventure. Costume Designer Abby Parker has created a wide array of outfits that sell the many characters and critters, not forgetting those ubiquitous Mardi Gras beads and head-dresses.

So, for a grand and glorious time with the short folks who rule your life, I strongly recommend a trip into the swamp with “Petite Rouge.” Bring the Hot Sauce and Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

-- Brad Rudy (BK Rudy@aol.com)


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