When the Adventure Theatre MTC invited me to bring my toddler Alice to see their latest production, Winnie the Pooh, I thought they were crazy.
But I would have been crazy to not take her: It was the perfect “My First Theatre” experience for a little one!
Every day at church is a struggle, every instance in which I hope Alice will be able to sit quietly on my lap or in her stroller for a short period of time, a disaster. Hey, she’s 21 months old and eager to explore the world around her. So naturally I thought her too young to sit through even the most kid-friendly musical. But I was wrong! Alice was enthralled, enraptured and engaged for the entire production.
Based on the book by A.A. Milne and directed by Jerry Whiddon, (a Helen Hayes Award Recipient for If You Give a Pig a Pancake), the musical play brings to life a typical day in the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore.
I have never been one of those gals who lovedlovedloved Winnie the Pooh. Sure, I thought the original drawings sweet when framed on a nursery wall, and the stuffed Pooh Bear received at Disney World is a snuggly treasure. But I never went as gaga over the stories as other childhood classics. (I’ll be perfectly honest, even though this might be blasphemy: I found the stories pretty boring.)
But the Adventure Theatre production of Winnie the Pooh is FUNNY. It is hilarious. It is whimsical and delightful. When the characters are brought to life for young children through great directing, engaging production, and skilled actors, Winnie the Pooh totally makes sense.
Joshua Morgan as Rabbit had me cracking up as I have not laughed in a very long time. His manic, scheming, leader-of-the-pack Rabbit with a Southern twist was one of the funniest things I have ever seen on a children’s theatre stage. I thought James Gardiner was brilliant, bringing out the bluesy Eeyore so well that my toddler said, “Awwww, poor baby” each time he came on stage. Winnie and Piglet were portrayed exactly how we want them: one as the slow-moving sweet-toothed sweetie, the other as the talkative and cheerful friend to all.
Genius touches throughout the production are what kept the preschooler and toddler crowd fascinated and never distracted. Funny tiny puppets burst up from behind scenery when Rabbit makes his stage entrance. This tactic immediately drew in the little kids.
A piano player is on stage at all times, providing a running score that reminded me of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood…there has to be some child development expert somewhere who can explain why a lively, melodic piano will keep little ones’ attention for a full half hour.
If, like me, you adore introducing your children to theatre but have been hesitant to take your toddler or preschooler, make the leap for Winnie the Pooh at the Adventure Theatre.
Remaining show times for Winnie the Pooh:
Sunday February 10 11AM
Friday February 15 10:30AM
Thursday February 21 10:30AM
Friday February 22 10:30AM
Tickets are $19 each and can be purchased online at www.adventuretheatre-mtc.org or by calling 301.634.2270.
Review tickets and photos courtesy Adventure Theatre.