By Jori Waldron
Emerald City Theater is putting on a production of Fantastic Mr. Fox this holiday season.
This production is faithful to the book by Roald Dahl, with songs based on those Dahl put into the book. an example is the song of the three farmers: Boggis (Aaron Lawson), and Bunce (Isa Arciniegas) and Bean (Jeffrey Hoge). These mean farmers pursue Mr. Fox because each day he steals from their farms to feed his family. For a complete description of the plot, click here.
Victory Gardens Theater’s spacious, nicely-raked auditorium ensures every seat has a perfect view. The performers enter the theater 10 minutes before showtime to sing, hit beach balls around, and interact with the audience. They blow bubbles and show off their costumes as they talk to the attendees about the characters and what they know about the show. A narrator (Brianna Buckley) leads the audience through the story. Two musicians (Elleon Dobias and Jeanne T. Arrigo) remain onstage throughout the show playing various instruments, including banjo, clarinet and drums, as well as occasionally stepping in as characters.
The set consists of two levels that the characters climb up and down, which most often represents the giant tree that sits atop the hill where the foxes live. The fox costumes each have fluffy tails that the foxes swish as they dance and paw each other with love.
The original songs for this production are often upbeat, catchy romps, such as the one about digging, sung by the foxes (Adhana Reid, Rebecca Keeshin and Mario Aivazian). Mrs. Fox (Tia Pinson) stands out as having a particularly lovely voice as she sings to her two fox children. Some of the songs, however, do become a bit scary as the farmers clang shovels on metal bars while they sing about digging out the foxes. Then later they bring in large machines to help dig deeper and faster to get at the foxes.
Overall, this show is perfect for young children. It runs 75 minutes, but has an intermission and the theatre allows food to be brought into the house. The Victory Gardens Theater is a beautiful facility in a nice location (2433 N. Lincoln Ave), and tickets start at just $20. Click here for more information.
Photos by Austin D. Oie.