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THEATER REVIEW The Little Prince
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
2013-12-25

This article shared 4660 times since Wed Dec 25, 2013
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Playwrights: Rick Cummings and John Scouliar after Antoine de Saint-Exupery. At: Lookingglass Theatre Company, 821 N. Michigan Ave. Tickets: 312-337-0665; www.lookingglasstheatre.org; $45-$75. Runs through: Feb. 23

There are lots of wowing theatrical surprises in store for audiences at Lookingglass Theatre Company's new adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's beloved children's novel The Little Prince. And while that's just great for easily distracted kids, adult fans of the book might be put off by the circus-based hard-sell drive to the production overseen by director David Catlin.

Lookingglass Theatre certainly has its heart in the right place for The Little Prince, so you can't fault them there. Story adapters Rick Cummings and John Scouliar have structured the well-known tale about a stranded Aviator ( Ian Barford ) who encounters a mysterious and unearthly Little Prince ( Amelia Hefferon ) as a paean to childlike imagination that questions the hollow motivations of grownups for power and attention.

To visually emphasize this point, set designer Courtney O'Neill's dominating image is an oversize, curvy blank sheet of paper that alternately functions as a drawing pad and an oversize slide among other uses. The attractive and physically fit supporting cast also get a rigorous workout with Sylviaa Hernandez-DiStasi's acrobatic and circus choreography. Fine actors like Adeoye, Kareem Bandlealy, Kasey Foster, Raymond Fox and Lauren Hirte lower down from up above or rise up from down below in places you would least suspect for them to appear.

In terms of visual splendor and theatrical whimsey, this is a prime all-ages Lookingglas staging that could easily tour regionally like the theater's past hits. Sally Dolembo's costumes are a clever mix of centuries-old styles and up-to-date freshness, and William Kirkham's lighting helps transport audiences to imaginative galaxies far away. Director Catlin also emphasizes the human-made quality of theater by showing the actors creating music with instruments or vocally, showing how moods are made while also receding into the dramatic background.

But what's lacking in this Lookingglass Little Prince are more quiet charming moments for the show's symbolism and messages to be contemplated. Many insights are delivered either in a shiny, or physically dynamic way, but the meanings can get muddled in the rush to show off the next dazzling theatrical trick ( like that cool but ultimately distracting swarm of extra-strength soap bubbles ).

The cast is consistently crafty and characterful, although it would have been nicer if the actors had some more depth to play from the show's script ( particularly Louise Lamson's lovely and vain Rose ). The Little Prince's death also might have benefited with a little more grievous loss to heighten the drama.

So even if it might move a bit too speedily for my taste, Lookingglass Theatre's visually resplendent take on The Little Prince is consistently entertaining and full of visual wonder to spur anyone's imagination. Hopefully, the The Little Prince will spur kids and parents to start a dialogue on the show's many symbolic flourishes after the fact to make up for the rushed dramatic impacts from mid-show.


This article shared 4660 times since Wed Dec 25, 2013
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