Monday, April 8, 2019

Edward Tulane at The 24th Street Theatre

If you have children, know someone who has children, know a child or have ever been a child or aspire to be one, I encourage you to take The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at The 24th Street Theatre.  
Carlos Larkin, Brady Dalton Richards,
Rachel Weck and Jennifer Hasty
Photo by Cooper Bates
 The theatre is a shared experience and the energy that director Debbie Devine and her enthusiastic cast: Edward, a porcelain rabbit ( Carlos Larkin), Woman (Rachel Weck), Traveler (Jennifer Hasty), The Man (Bradley Dalton Richards) and in the shadows on keyboard, Bradley Brough bring together on what amounts to a bare stage to share is a story of survival...  and Love.

 Adapted for the stage by Dwane Hartford from the novel by Kate Decamillo, unfolds a gentle tale the reminds a bit of "Pinocchio" (if you read the Collodi book). The journey that the wooden puppet makes through trials and tribulations turns, as does The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, on loss and redemption.   "Edward" is a floppy toy: a juegete..  with porcelain features and furry ears.  The story assembles to relate the importance: the sustenance of Love.

After a sincere curtain speech by Executive Director, Jay McAdams,  the lights dim and from the audience we hear the voice of  The Traveler (Jennifer Hasty).  Unfortunately, the spotlight intended for the actor blinded me for a few minutes.  The choice to have her enter from the audience is certainly dramatic, but put me on the defensive from the get go.  

Traveler becomes many characters throughout the play, as do the other players. Initially, she becomes Pelligrina, the grandmother of Abiline (Rachel Weck). Abiline is gifted a fabulous toy, a porcelain rabbit whom she immediately names "Edward" because he is an elegant rabbit: a juguete! (The theatre provides Spanish supertitles to benefit the neighborhood patrons on a high up stage left area that unfortunately splits the focus from the action on the stage.) And, with this encounter, we are on our way.
As the voice of and the embodiment of Edward, Carlos Larkin, is a ringer for actor Billy Connolly and accompanies the movements of the juguete as he careens through his adventures: his miraculous journey.    

Director Debbie Devine's choices for the ever shifting scenes are facilitated by simple moving props: a tall ladder, a rolling construction platform and a simple box. Her split focus is enhanced by upstage projections that become locations and expository images that make the story unfold somewhat like a tennis match. Musician Bradley Brough is tucked away stage right punctuating mostly with incidental music, though the cast comes through with a mighty chorus to start the show and then to wrap things up.

Each episode of Edward's Miraculous Journey gives the three protean players opportunities to shine.  As Lucy, the Dog, Bradley Dalton Richards is off the charts with physical antics that brings the story of finding the discarded Edward to life.  

As we come full circle, we find that Abiline has now become an adult and a mother. She shops for a special present for her daughter. And! Lo and behold, there's Edward, who has been sitting in the shop for ever so long... at last to be reunited with his former love. The power of Love blossoms anew.

Regardless of the technical issues, the story enchants us through strong performances. Given an opportunity, we can overcome adversity and with hope, find ourselves right where we belong.  

Adapted by Dwayne Hartford 
from the book by Kate Decamillo
Directed by Debbie Devine
The 24th Street Theatre
1117 24th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Performances: April 6 – May 19
• Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Apr 6 (opening night), 
Apr 13, Apr 20, Apr 27; May 4, May 11, May 18
• Sundays at 3 p.m.:   Apr 14; May 5, May 12, May 19 (dark Apr 21, Apr 28)
Tickets and information:
(213) 745-6516 



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