“Emperor’s New Clothes” is a Piccolo Charm

Saturday, June 3, 2017
by

DON’T BE FOOLED by Sprouts Musical Theatre. Their performances are geared toward children, but the plays are full of serious art, artistry, and fun for all ages. Case in point is “The Emperor’s New Clothes” which will have a final (highly recommended) showing at Footlight Players Theatre on June 10 at 1:00 PM.

What seems like a whimsical story from Hans Christian Anderson is, like all his adventures, full of import which he couches in innocence. Director Stan Gill takes the same approach in adapting Anderson’s fairy tale for the stage. He delivers entertaining action for the children while aiming thoughtful dialogue—spoken and sung—at the adults. It’s a perfect blend.

The Emperor’s situation, of course, hinges on the word “invisible,” which Mr. Gill masterfully spins, unravels, and defines in one of the play’s best songs that he wrote the lyrics for—as he does (with panache) for all the Sprouts plays. The only trouble is that adults can get so swept up in the action themselves that they miss all the clever word play and double entendres in Mr. Gill’s simple but witty dialogue.

Stan Gill, Sarah Callahan Black, and Robin Burke

The show at Footlight comprises a wonderful cast that includes John Black (Jester), George Younts (Magician), Emma Scott (Cook), Haydn Haring (Empress), Sarah Callahan Black (Zif), Stan Gill (Miggot), and Robin Burke (Emperor).

Many of the cast are veterans of Sprouts performances and they all suit their roles perfectly. Sarah Callahan Black plays the lead “tailor” (with a nice Boston accent) and is as relaxed on stage as she has ever been. With Mr. Gill as her mindless henchman, she anchors the performance and steers the plot with natural grace and charm.

John Black, George Younts, and Emma Scott

Robin Burke is a convincing dandy of an Emperor and brings, as usual, a wealth of comedic talent and technique to the stage. Ms. Haring complements him nicely as the distressed Empress, as does Ms. Scott in her role as the fussy Cook. Mr. Black manages the Jester’s role as narrator with warm appeal, and Mr. Younts is an impressive force as the Magician, both in character and with some marvelous slights of hand on stage.

Two other things of note are the poignant lyrics that come in the Empress’s song performed by Ms. Haring and Mr. Burke, and the wonderfully understated expressions of Mr. Gill’s timing and humor. He makes acting look easy, which spills over to the other performers and gives his otherwise childlike plays tremendous warmth and depth.

Needless to say, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at Footlight Players is an hour well spent on a Saturday afternoon.

The full cast


Kudos also to music director Inga Agrest, keyboard player Sarah Morrison, and costume designer Lana Pasko. (We couldn’t see you, but your presence was felt!)


 

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