By Colin Douglas
In Shari Bell-Rehwoldt’s charming 2007 picture book, You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? lavishly illustrated by David Slonim, the Tooth Fairy is the main character. She’s saucy, filled with attitude and as lovable as fried chicken and waffles.
But Lifeline’s delectable and enchanting new confection, a world premiere for young audiences, has been adapted with originality, spirit and style by Lifeline company members Heather Currie and Derek Czaplewski and features an infectious score and lyrics by Laura McKenzie. Imagine the jubilant bounce and bliss of a Schoolhouse Rock ditty, and you have an idea of how pleasurable this little 60-minute musical can be.
This adaptation changes the point of view of the book. It imagines that the Tooth Fairy has finally realized that, with the world’s population exploding, she simply unable to collect so many children’s teeth all by herself. So, when “a Mysterious Voice” announces to the fairy world that the Tooth Fairy will be looking for some additional help, sweet little Dew Drop, or Didi, as she likes to be called, thinks this is the perfect position for her.
She’s always worshiped the Tooth Fairy, imagining the beautiful gowns that she most likely wears on her rounds. So Didi takes her application, her infectious giggle and her sense of style to apply in person at Command Central.
There she meets the Tooth Fairy’s lightning bug helpers: Flash, Twinkle and Fresnel. Each is a unique individual with special talents and skills. They immediately take to Didi and endeavor to help her complete her strict training. The three convince the Tooth Fairy that this young fairy is not only a great apprentice, with a knack for quick learning, but will be the perfect new Assistant Tooth Fairy. By the end of play, children will understand that it’s really not easy being the Tooth Fairy.
Beautifully directed by adaptor Heather Currie, this wonderful little musical is perfect for children ages five and up, but adults will easily fall under its spell, as well. She’s incorporated the aisles and brought the show right into the laps of her audience. With a creative scenic design by Lizzie Bracken, extraordinarily colorful and sparkly costumes by Brenda Winstead, flashy lighting by Diane D. Fairchild, magical sound by Joe Griffin and some very funny, gigantic props by Jenny Pinson, this is one show bound to become a new favorite. It will no doubt prompt children to want to buy their own copy of the picture book (available for sale in the lobby) or, at the very least, check it out of their local library.
The Tooth Fairy is played by the talented Diana Coates, whose strong vocals, stylistic dance moves and finger-snapping attitude provokes smiles and laughter from start to finish. She’s the queen of this production and Coates certainly wears her crown with finesse and savoir-faire. She’s matched tooth-for-tooth by young Darian Tene as Dew Drop. This petite bundle of dynamite has the biggest, most beautiful smile imaginable and she knows how to use it. She grabs her young audience’s attention from the very first moments and holds them in the palm of her little hand until the final bows. Darian sings, dances and charms the enamel off every incisor. Together these two actors are terrific.
But not to be outdone, Chris Causer is simply stellar as the leader of the bugs, Flash. And flash he does. A skilled singer/dancer, Causer is a pacesetting pilot who guides the entire cast. As Twinkle, Benjamin Ponce is pure joy as the bug who most closely identifies with Dew Drop’s penchant for style and flair. As funny as he is tall, this terrific actor is a gentle giant in this role. And Brian Tochterman Jr. is unexpectedly hilarious as the cerebral chief of Command Central. With his superior intellect and love of big words, Fresnel is literally the green lantern, the emerald-colored bug who has his finger on the pulse of the whole operation. Without these three bug boys, we see that the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t be nearly as successful at what she does.
All over the world kids are continually losing their teeth as they grow toward adulthood. A self described, “action kind of gal,” the Tooth Fairy begins to understand that the job has become more than one fairy can handle. Flashing with energy and attitude, the Tooth Fairy teaches Didi, her new helper, how to balance on a fast-flying hover board, to locate children’s lost molars with her Tooth-o-Finder, to skillfully dodge the curious paws of hiding cats, dogs and gerbils and to deposit a shiny quarter where each child can find it. This charming, tuneful tale about teeth, and the fairies who love them, will bring a polished grin to every audience member.
Lifeline Theatre presents “You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?” through April 22 at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. More information and tickets are available here.