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Fairytale mashup is for everyone

I love going to productions in The Phipps Center's Black Box theater. It is where I have seen some of my favorites over the years and "Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs" is now among them.

A large part of the fun is that the audience feels like they can reach out and touch the actors. What makes it even better in this show is that they reached out to touch us. And they certainly made the connection.

There were of course lots of little ones in the audience and their enthusiasm was contagious. The little girl in my row was especially excited by Goldilocks and friends and made me appreciate all over again how wonderful it is to take kids to the theater.

Playwright Larry Damico's clever script was in the good hands of director Lindsay Fitzgerald evidenced by her cast choices in this fast moving evening of fun.

Heather Derrick is the perfect Goldilocks played with lots of attitude and a touch of mystery — something is missing from her story and you want to know what.

You won't miss the absent three bears because three charming little pigs take their place in the persons of Owen Meisner, Arianna Mizell and Conner Boorman. This trio have some of the funniest exchanges of the play and their timing is spot on with each other and the audience.

They are rivaled by the Squeal Sisters played by Molly Weber, Mary Rother and Eliotte McCabe. They should lobby for a fairytale of their own. These girls just want to have fun and they include everyone in it.

The thankless job of uptight storyteller falls to Emma Hatch but she still manages to shine among all these over-the-top types.

And what would a fairytale be without witches—well not a fairytale. Audrey Simpson's Witch Wanda is smart and beautiful and gets what she wants. Sandy Witch played by Faith Kalsow makes ugly look good and lots of fun. I only hope she can get back up to her full height when the final curtain falls on the show.

The villains in this story have lots of flair. Emma Wallraff is both cunning and charming as the Wolf. And his stooge, Weasel, played by Dane Olson, is hapless but with a French flair that makes him very likable.

Chad, played by Simon Norvold, is from outside storybook land but is nonetheless "awesome" and holds his own with this cast of animated animals.

And never to be overlooked, the wood nymphs played by Elli Scott, Adaire MacSwain and Kasey Baumer, see and know all and are essential to any good time in the forest.

The technical team behind Goldilocks worked their magic as well from the wonderful costumes by Michelle Lehman and the set by Angela Jackson to the sights and sounds in the woods made marvelous by Mark Koski, Jason Hobbie, Jake Otto, Leslie Clauss and Maggie Smith.

This production has what all great children's theater shows do — something to make everyone learn a little and laugh a lot.

The show runs this weekend, May 11-13, at The Phipps Center. Call 715-386-8409 or go to thephipps.org for tickets.

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