‘Babes in Toyland’ delights young audiences

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    By BRANDON MULL

    The Villa Playhouse Theater production of “Babes in Toyland” can be appreciated if audiences consider the context of the performance.

    This is community theater, with most of the roles filled by local youth.

    Naturally, this is not a show where professional quality is to be expected. But it does give a group of area youth the chance to experience theater.

    The play opens in Mother Goose Village, where a plentiful supply of nursery rhyme characters are upset because the dastardly Barnaby (Nick Christensen) is intent on foreclosing on their homes. Barnaby has hired a pair of pirates to dispose of Tom Tom (Kevin Keele) so he can wed Mistress Mary (Jeni Miller).

    Tom Tom leads a group of nursery rhyme characters to Toyland to seek help from the Toymaker (Kerry Murdock). They battle through spider infested woods with Barnaby and his henchmen at their heels before reaching their destination.

    Once in Toyland, the final conflict with Barnaby ensues.

    The musical was adapted by director Anna Murdock.

    The show will most be enjoyed by children. It has a simple plot and melodramatic acting. I heard children vocalizing their approval after the performance.

    Songs add variety to the show. The music is not particularly moving, but the soloists do a good job with their melodies.

    A lot of effort obviously went into the costumes.

    A large cast is equipped with nursery rhyme character costumes as well as a barrage of toy costumes. From the toy soldiers’ red uniforms to the ruffled dresses of the nursery rhyme girls, the costumes are nicely executed.

    Also, spider and moth costumes are designed to glow beneath the black lights of the woods.

    For me, one of the funniest parts of the play involves a tiny child in a lamb costume being hauled around the stage in a large sack.

    Individuals who can appreciate a play where a large group of kids put in a lot of effort should enjoy this show.

    “Babes in Toyland” plays Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. until Dec. 18. There will be a 3 p.m. matinee Dec. 11.

    Tickets cost $7 general admission, $6 for students and seniors and $5 for children 11 and under. For more information call 489-3088.

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