By Erika Brown Thomas
The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences presents The Emperor’s New Clothes, a musical “fairy-fable” based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen. Fun for the family ensues as a lesson about vanity and a lack of honesty result in a big embarrassment.
Declan Desmond stars as the fledgling ruler. He is so believable as the child emperor that he garnered a question from a young audience member during the talk back about his real age (just 18 years old in real life)! Desmond’s performance is genuine and sweet as he easily navigates the role.
Garrett Lutz, a familiar face at the Marriott, plays Arno – the ingenuous servant boy. Lutz is the laugh generator for the entire show. Children can’t get enough of his physical antics and funny faces. He is the life of the show, breathing vitality into each of his scenes.
A nameless scammer (Johanna McKenzie Miller) comes to town and finagles her way to the choicest rooms and wardrobe. Her promise of “magic clothes” dupes the young ruler into a public humiliation. Miller’s stellar voice makes the wayward character an interesting addition to the cast. The part itself may prove confusing to younger audience members as she calls out numerical “routines” that help her satisfy materialistic greed.
Christine Bunuan and George Keating portray a pair of doting servants whilst providing strong vocals and sympathetic shoulders for the Emperor to rest his pitiful, privileged head upon.
The “main event” of this little fable leaves some things to be desired, but not in the way of clothing. The production is enjoyable, but doesn’t creatively challenge the “how are they going to do this on stage?” query (how will they portray the emperor’s nude clothes?) nor did it quite afford the amusement that is so readily available with excitable and interested young audiences.
The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences continues to put forth strong efforts to reach the children of its community, highlighted by the child-friendly talk-back portion of each show. Cast members make themselves available to answer a number of questions asked by curious kids. Make a point to stick around for the post-show Q & A next time you’re at the theatre!
Marriott Theatre presents “The Emperors New Clothes” most Wednesdays through Saturdays through May 12 at 10 Marriott Way, Lincolnshire. More information and tickets are available here.