As soon I saw that Stray Kats Theatre Company was planning to present Small World: A Fantasia back around the time that I reviewed , I knew I wanted to return to the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown to see it. Unfortunately, I couldn't make the press night on opening night, but I managed to make the Friday night show this weekend. Although other reviews of the show have already begun to appear, I steadfastly avoided reading them until after I wrote my own.
The show is Stray Kats' first full production, the world premier of Small World by Frederick Stroppel. This is the comic interpretation of a meeting between two unique and very different personalities. The Walt Disney film Fantasia was an unprecedented integration of music and image, including music by classical composer Igor Stravinsky. It invites us into a conversation between internationally-acclaimed composer Stravinksy, 58, and Walt Disney, the dynamic 38-year-old creator of Mickey Mouse, as they discuss the groundbreaking film Fantasia.
The two-character comedy is extremely well-written, with very funny parts mixed with some drama. The two men basically match wits for ninety minutes and we are invited along for the ride that begins in September 1939 and ends in the afterlife. The personalities could not be more different, yet as the play progresses, the men definitely change as they jockey for the top position in their business relationship. Both characters are of equal importance; there is no supporting actor role in this unique production.
Kate Katcher has deftly directed this new piece with help from the Technical Director Jennifer Rogers. Three interns apparently did everything else. The sets were cute (in a good way) with my favorite being the office of Walt Disney. Although I don't think the actors were wearing microphones, we didn't miss a word in this great space.
The audience was laughing throughout the play. Sometimes it was as a result of a piece of information we all know about the Disney brand and sometimes it was another pop culture reference. I expected Toy Story, but Star Wars was a surprise.
Both actors are members of Actors Equity Association. Scott Bryce is wonderful in the role of the iconic Walt Disney. He captured the essence of the man we remember from Sunday nights of black and white television. He could be folksy, but remained a shrewd businessman. Mr. Bryce has numerous acting credits in films and television (including a long role on As the World Turns and last season on Homeland.) He grew up in Westport CT and was a member of The Staples Players and currently resides in Westport.
The demanding role of Igor Stravinsky is played perfectly by Robert Resnikoff, an actor, teacher, radio host and writer. While he masters the physicality of this bombastic personality, his extensive voice-over work is apparent in how he delivers his Russian-accented lines. I enjoyed watching him as his character softens every so slightly. He also got to deliver my personal favorite line in the show, "Critics are all communists."
The lovely room on the second floor was set up with chairs in rows and many of them were taken at this performance. Ms. Katcher was bursting with pride as she announced the show and mentioned that their next production will be in a new space down the road in Newtown; more information on that to follow.
Congratulations to Stray Kats on their first full production; they have a hit on their hands with this world premiere. Click here for information about remaining performances.
Coming to Stray Kats
A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee
A staged reading of the Pulitzer Prize winning play
Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2 at 8:00 and Feb. 3 at 2:00 at the new space, 5 Queen Street
Rounding Third by Richard Dresser
March 1 - 17
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00, Sundays at 2 (except 3/10)
A one-day event, in cooperation with Vital Voices Network
Sunday, April 28 at 2:00
Call 203 514-2221 or www.straykatstheatrecompany.org