Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Pied Piper. It was adapted by Forks and Hope from the poem by Robert Browning and it was directed by Josh Sobel. It was about this woman called the Pied Piper (Suzanna Ziko) who comes to a village and she rids them of all the rats but then when the Mayor (Christian Stokes) and the Corporation (Andrew Bailes) won't give her the money that she asks for, she takes all their children. It is a really short play and I think it is really good to take your kids to because it gives you a little taste of storefront theater but then it is not to long. I thought it was a really great idea, because people don't usually adapt poems into plays, and I thought it was cool how they took that risk. The risk is that usually for an adaptation you are condensing it, not making it longer. But then most of the kid's plays at Lifeline and Emerald City make their plays longer than reading the book because you need to make the play long enough. It might take less time to read the poem, but they are pretty close which is pretty cool. This has cool dance breaks and you get to see what they think the movement and the sound would be like in person. I thought this was a pretty fun show and I think it was cool to see all these people become characters a lot of people grew up with.
I thought that the movement (designed by Aileen McGroddy) was really cool and lyrical, like modern dance. I loved when all the chorus (Julia Meese, Casey Pilkenton, Amber Robinson, Isaac Samuelson, and Nikki R. Veit) lifted up the Pied Piper and they made it look like she was making all the rats go away with her special powers. I thought that was super awesome and cool. When the rats drove themselves into the river they all hopped over the bar in different ways, like one time they would jump on the Pied Piper's knee and hurl themselves over but then sometimes a fellow rat would help them up. And one time, there was a gymnast rat that jumped over all by itself. I loved the movement work they did with the chorus so that the rats and the children seemed really different. The children ran and walked very spritely. The rats were always crouched down and their teeth were very jittery. I thought it was so cool how the rats were all shoes, and not actual rat puppets or anything.
I wish we had gotten to know the characters a little better. The limping child (Robinson), you got to know two facts about her. She limped and her father was the mayor, which isn't very much for an important character. I think it is fine that the Pied Piper is mysterious because she is supposed to be mysterious. But then for all the other characters you didn't get to know more than a few facts, and some of them had no facts at all. If they helped you know more about the characters it would have made it less like just reading a summary. What they might have been trying to do is make it more like reading a fairy tale where the characters are not fully developed because they just want you to know the story of the people and not all their likes and dislikes and that kind of stuff. But in a play you want more character development because it helps you stay more intrigued in the story.
People who would like this show are people who like fairy tales, awesome choreography, and gymnast rats. I think people should go see this show. It was pretty funny and it was kind of emotional when the children came back and you knew they weren't really back. I think this show should be for ages 6 and up because it may have some sad moments in it, but then it depends on your point of view at the end, because you might think the kids are actually back. I think this is a good way to introduce your kids to storefront theater.
Photos: Tom McGrath