Sunday, January 17, 2016

Geronimo Stilton: Mouse in Space—Newmark Theatre—downtown Portland

The Mouse That Soared

The world premiere of this imaginative play for the young is based on an original idea from Elisabetta Dami and adapted for the stage by John Maclay and directed by Stan Foote (OCT’s Artistic Director).  It is presented by the Oregon Children’s Theatre and will be playing at the Newmark space, 1111 SW Broadway, through February 14th.  For more information, go to their site at www.octc.org  or call 503-228-9571.

This clever little “tail” takes place in New Mouse City.  It is a pretty ordinary town sitting on an island, much like Manhattan.  It has newspapers, schools and churches, scientists, and a rodent population you wouldn’t believe.  It also has burglars and spies and that is what the bulk of our story is about.

You see, Geronimo Stilton (Brian Burger), is a “cheesy” kind of guy…er, mouse.  He is a bit timid…actually scared of his own shadow.  But when his house is invaded by thieves, he fights back with his trusty…slipper(?).  But, not to worry, he has a very supportive family.  There is his lovely and courageous sister, Thea (Maya Caulfield) and his inquisitive nephew, Benjamin (Bryce Duncan), his very eccentric uncle, Trap (Rusty Tennant) and his demanding Grandpa (Gary Norman).

But things are about to change in a dramatic way for this intrepid family of mousekins.  First, because of his bravery with fending off villains with a slipper, he is recruited into a secret organization of spies by Agent 00K (Dennis Kelly).  Then, he is encouraged to buy an expensive security system for his home by the vivacious, Suzy Slyrat (Emma Younger).  But the town soon finds out this is just a rouse to control the City by the nefarious, Dr. Wicked Whiskers (Scott Engdahl), as he has a control center in space.

Needless to say, it is up to Geronimo and his rat pack to save the day by going into space and destroying Whiskers’ headquarters.  Can’t tell you any more or I would be giving away the ending.  But, be prepared to learn a few things along the way about science, which turns this play into a valuable learning tool, as well as being entertaining.

Foote has chosen his cast well and has conceived some very imaginative and humorous scenes to create the atmosphere.  The preparation scene where they are training to go into space is hilarious.  And the scenes in the space ship are very cleverly done, especially the bit where one of the characters is floating in space.  Kudos must be given, too, to Tal Sanders, as the designer, and his team.

I have seen Burger before in a very offbeat vampire musical at Post 5.  He was good in that as the lead character and does equally well here.  Caulfield had been growing as an actor over the years.  She and another OCT student, Madeleine Delaplane, played major roles in an Indie movie, “Nightbumpers” (www.imdb.com), I made a few years ago and nearly stole the film.  Also noteworthy, in a smaller role, is Younger as the bad girl of the story.  She moves nicely on the stage and has a certain focus when she’s on that suggests a real talent emerging (a “diamond in the rough,” perhaps).

But Tennant, a seasoned professional actor, director and fight choreographer, bursts onto the scene and is a focal point whenever he’s on.  He is fun to watch and brings even more life to a very good show.  All in all, it is well worth watching and you might learn a thing or two in the process.

I recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.