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Toyland' story earns laurels

 
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Ross
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:07 pm    Post subject: Toyland' story earns laurels Reply with quote

    Toyland' story earns laurels
    Monday, November 26, 2007
    BY PETER FILICHIA
    Star-Ledger Staff


    NEW JERSEY STAGE

    Bookwriters Stephen L. Fredericks and Perry Arthur Kroeger have adapted the legendary pair's movie, "Babes in Toyland," for the Netcong theater. So, as in the 1934 film, Mother Goose is having trouble making her mortgage payments. Her landlord Barnaby -- mustachioed and black-clad, right out of a silent-movie melodrama -- will waive the debt, on one difficult condition: Mother's daughter, one Little Bo-Peep, must marry him.

    Alas, Bo-Peep doesn't care for the old codger. It's Young Tom-Tom who makes her heart go boom-boom. Barnaby is so furious that he attempts to make a hostile takeover of Toyland, whether Santa Claus likes it or not.

    In the movie, the lovers' cause was helped by Stannie Dum (Stan Laurel) and Ollie Dee (Oliver Hardy). If those characters' names sound odd, it's because they were changed specifically for the Hollywood stars. When Broadway first saw "Babes in Toyland" in 1903, Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee did the helping.

    They're back in this version, though Fredericks and Kroeger have asked their two leads to play Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee as if they were Laurel and Hardy. Lea Antolini and Danny Campos, who respectfully do the honors, do a delicious job in aping the pair. Babes and tweens will have a delightful time seeing them, presumably for the first time.

    Campos does Hardy's slow burn to perfection, especially as he realizes this is another fine mess that his cohort has gotten him into. Antolini is hilarious in giving that panicked and guilty look every time she clumsily causes an accident. The rosy-cheeked actress shows great physical skill as well, whether she's doing her Chaplinesque walk or a head-over-heels tumble.

    Why other theaters that specialize in musicals haven't discovered Antolini is a mystery, and certainly their loss. She shows a sense of style even when she does the simple task of putting on her hat. How many other performers in the state could get a laugh just from the way she puts a paintbrush to her mouth to get a more pointed tip?

    Melanie Wallace, Growing Stage's loveliest ingenue, plays Bo-Peep with winsome charm. Aaron Riesebeck offers a shy macho quality as Tom-Tom. Both of them have appropriately dreamy looks, especially after they kiss.

    As Barnaby, David Spellman is expert at playing an old fool who makes a bigger fool of himself for being smarmily interested in someone much too young for him. His pinch-penny face and slinky walk get a few extra laughs -- and hisses -- from the audience.

    They all do well enough in singing the Glen MacDonough-Victor Herbert score, though Nora Hummel, as Mother Goose, does not. Backing them up are children who study at Growing Stage, playing such fairy-tale stalwarts as Miss Muffet, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs. Some kids sing and act with verve, while others have looks on their faces that scream, "Why did my parents sign me up for this?"

    Lori B. Lawrence directs at a proper pace. No program credit is given for costume designer. Maybe there wasn't one. That would explain why Santa Claus wears plaid, and Little Boy Blue is mostly clad in green.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds cool Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

l would've liked to've seen it...
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