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The Adventures of Peter Cottontail - My Review

The first show for children at the Phoenix Stage opens April 14

I had the pleasure of attending the second to the final dress rehearsal at the of this adorable show for children and the grown ups who love them. As an adult I enjoyed the humor in the show, the amazing costumes, and above all the wonderful performances of this excellent cast.

The fun begins with the simple but cute little set, which quickly transforms to the next scene. Since everyone in the cast plays an animal, Dizzy Duck (Heather Graham) comes out at the beginning of the show in costume to warm up the audience in a very kid-friendly way. I loved it and I am quite sure that the kids will too. Then the cast of characters appear in various short stories all tied together with the running gag of Reddy Fox (Foster Evans Reese) trying to catch Peter Rabbit (Patti Paganucci.) The very young might not follow every one of the vignettes, but they will most likely get the main story and enjoy watching Peter outwitting the fox.

The characters that interact with these two protagonists are so much fun and the actors who play them are a joy to watch. Some of the performers play two or even three of them, requiring total costume changes. And these costumes are amazing! I had seen one online and couldn't wait to see the rest of them; even without the makeup that is planned for the final product, I was not disappointed. Ed Bassett and whoever worked with him have outdone themselves.

Marsha Howard Karp, in her directorial debut at the PSC, did a great job of wrangling all these well-defined creatures. Ms. Paganucci is a fine Peter, a trickster that you can't help liking. Marilyn Rotondo plays a mean Granny Fox; she impressively kept track of many physical issues. Dave Wall plays a convincing Old Mr. Toad with some great physical comedy. Ms. Graham () is a wonderful Dizzy Duck in one of the best costumes in the show. The always amazing Moses Beckett played Spotty the Turtle in this rehearsal and was absolutely hysterical in a slow kind of way.

Tina Churchill is a very happy Sammy Jay in vibrant blue. Mark E. Rees () is Prickly Porky with a little of Woody from Toy Story thrown in. Tyanna Brooks was a very cute and funny Sheep who never broke character. Lyle R. Ressler is Blacky the Crow in a very imaginative costume. Lauren Woolf, played three characters to perfection. She was an ethereal Merry Little Breezes in spangled white, a hysterical Bowser the Hound, and finally a cute Johnny Chuck. She demonstrated excellent comic timing in all three.

Jamie Weisberg has the perfect voice for Jenny Skunk and nailed the rest of this great role. Her white wig made her so much fun to watch. The Reddy Fox of Mr. Reese (the director of at the Warner) almost stole the show. He was hysterical as the Granny-pecked young fox who engaged the audience with his wonderful comic timing. He used his entire body to perfection to become the fox who can't catch a break.

I would recommend this show for young children as well as older ones who will appreciate the humor. The show has been trimmed to a running time of just over an hour. The cast uses the entire as their stage and engages the audience without overpowering them. Children shouting out won't faze this fine cast that clearly can take it in their stride. Also, remember that the popcorn is free and endless. I encourage you to consider giving the children in your life the gift of a live theatre experience. Perhaps you will encourage them to appear onstage someday.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nancy Sasso Janis April 14, 2012 at 07:21 PM
One update (now that I have a program): The "whoever worked with him" on costumes was Lori Poulin (also Assistant Stage Manager.) Also, all the photos with this review were taken by the amazing Sharon A. Wilcox and certainly not me, despite the posted credit that I cannot change.

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