Review: The Velveteen Rabbit at Monmouth
by Andi Parkinson
Every once in awhile, it’s nice to be able to change gears and do something new. And when it involves a local treasure and an opportunity such as reviewing performances at the Theater at Monmouth for New Maine Times, then it is an especially nice treat.
Be patient, friends- I have never before written a review in my LIFE. But, I truly love live performances and especially those at TAM.
This year marks TAM’s 44th season (PDF of the 2013 brochure)- and my third consecutive“Opening Night” show. Every season provides opportunities for a wide range of shows and the selections for each season’s fare are always interesting and varied.
It’s fun to see how creatively the cast and crew take long-known favorites and standards such as Margery Williams’ “The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real)”, adapted by Dawn McAndrews, and make it fit the small, intimate space of Monmouth’s Cumston Hall- how the setting, backdrops, costuming and acting transform the stage and take the audience into the world being portrayed.
It takes incredible skill and talent , as well as a true love of story-telling, of watching faces in the audience lose themselves in the tale being told to do the job well. And no more fun for the cast and crew then when relating a story to a child… through the voices of toys. It was readily apparent that the cast enjoyed performing this show, just as much as the audience did watching it!
With “Velveteen Rabbit”, one is instantly charmed by the beautifully decorated props of giant painted wooden blocks, which first show the nursery of a young boy circa 1920s on Christmas morning and are used throughout the play to great effect as a beloved summer garden, the woods at night and more. The Boy (Nick Sutton) receives presents from his absent parents, given by his caretaker Nana- among them a beautiful, soft stuffed rabbit that he quickly dismisses but later comes to love as his favorite companion and friend.
The Boy takes Rabbit (Hannah Daly) everywhere with him, playing countless games, telling her marvelous tales and imagining wonderful adventures that she later relates to the other nursery toys. But, as she discovers one day when accidentally left outside and met by some wandering live wild rabbits, she is not yet “real”, as described by her friend the old rocking horse in the nursery, even though she knows she is “real” to The Boy. Her journey continues and… well, go see for yourself what happens!
With creative simple imagery, effective in bringing one back to a simpler time, as well as a wonderfully talented cast who are able to play multiple characters seamlessly and believably, this entertaining tale under the direction of Brooke Edwards is sure to please audiences of all ages.
CAST (in order of appearance)
The Velveteen Rabbit : Hannah Daly
The Boy: Nick Sutton
The Rocking Horse/ Wild Rabbit/ Gardener: Simon Kiser
Nana/ The Wood Lion/ Wild Rabbit: Aislinn Kerchaert
Tin Robot/ Wild Rabbit/ The Doctor: Ardarius Blakely
(Link to Dates and Ticket Information)