By Mary Damiano
One of my favorite parts of watching theatre designed for families is watching the children in the audience as they watch the show. The wonder and awe on their faces, their eagerness to participate when called upon, and their delight in the spectacle unfolding before them all enhance the entire experience.
And that’s just what happened at a Saturday matinee of Theatre Lab’s production of Allison Gregory’s Red Riding Hood, a fun retelling of the classic story. The kids present were swept by theatre magic.
But the children weren’t the only ones enthralled by the show. Some of the heartiest and most genuine laughter came from the adults in the audience.
Troy Davidson is elegant and eloquent as Wolfgang. He explains to the audience that this is a play, and he is an actor, and he will portray all the parts of the story of the wolf, the girl, and her granny. He is gleefully affected and thrilled to sink his teeth into such meaty roles. His plans are thwarted by Dayana Morales, a perky Delivery Person who wanders onto the stage with her scanner and package. She inserts herself into the action, much to Wolfgang’s chagrin, who loathes sharing the spotlight. They quibble about the details of the story, like, what’s in that basket for granny? And why would a mom let her daughter go traipsing through a forest alone?
What follows is an absolute delight, a funny, creative take on an old story that manages to be true to the familiar tale and forge a new modern path that’s fresh, exciting, and heartwarming.
There are also a handful of songs, with live, original music performed by Paul Curtis, some whimsical moments featuring butterflies and a quail, and more than a whiff of magic. And there are puppets, too. Director Matt Stabile is known for his imaginative use of puppets in Theatre Lab shows, and these, designed by John Shamburger, are enchanting.
The production elements are top-notch. Michael McClain’s charming set captures the spirit of a fairy tale and the underpinnings of backstage. Dawn C. Shamburger’s costume for Wolfgang, especially his brocade coat, is absolutely gorgeous. Matt Corey’s sound and Thomas Shorrock’s lighting work together to create the right atmosphere.
Red Riding Hood is part of Theatre Lab’s Heckscher Theatre for Families series. Don’t let that designation scare you away. You don’t have to accompany a child to attend this show, and you certainly don’t have to be a child to enjoy it.
Red Riding Hood runs through October 9 at Theatre Lab, on the FAU campus in Boca Raton. For tickets and more information, visit Theatre Lab.
Photo: Troy Davidson and Dayana Morales in Red Riding Hood. Photo by Morgan Sophia Photography