By Emily Metcalfe Smith
My boys are at those funny ages, nine and eleven, where they routinely practice their swagger in the mirror, experiment with hair gel, but still need to know where their stuffies, “Bunny” and “Tige,” are before heading to bed.
On Sunday morning when I told them we were going to go see a play I had the opportunity to witness some seriously impressive eye rolls and heavy sighs. As the lights dimmed and The Frog Prince began, I took a peek at them sitting next to me — stone cold and arms crossed.
The short interactive musical, produced by The StoryBook Theater, is a western take on the famous classic. The lively narrator, “Sage,” a cowgirl wise-woman, starts the show off by getting the audience involved with some call-and-response antics and a quick lesson on the Saguaro cactus.
Set on a frog ranch, “Princess Honey” must save the frogs from the villain, “Duke.” He wants to take over the ranch and serve frog legs at his restaurant chain. At the same time she must keep a promise she made to a very large, talking frog. With the help of her saucy mother “Queenie” and friend Sage, Princess Honey must find a way to keep her promise and save the ranch.
Of course, I don’t want to spoil the ending, but rest assured the message is one of rewards for right behavior, and the importance of keeping promises. The production cleverly sidesteps the outdated classic ending where the princess must kiss the frog against her will. Instead, the suggestion comes magically on cue from the audience and the noble frog tells her it is only for her to decide.
The set is simple and the props sparse, but the catchy musical numbers and charming cast fill the stage. The audience is encouraged to clap along, and even sing a little. At just under and hour, the production is lively, well-paced and has the right amount of silliness.
The little ones don’t have time to get too squirmy and thanks to the physical humor in the form of pratfalls and flying eight balls, even the most stalwart of too-cool-for-school preteens will succumb to its appeal. Everyone, even the parents, laughed out loud at times, and most smiled throughout.
Studio East Training for the Performing Arts produces StoryBook Theater as an outreach to expose children to live theater. Although the show is really best suited for ages 3 to 8, only minutes into the show, both my boys relaxed into their seats and began to smile and watch attentively. We all enjoyed ourselves and it took every bit of my mom-power-restraint not to say “I told you so” on the way home.
If you go . . .
Feb. 11-12: Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.*
March 4: Sunday, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. 3 p.m.
March 11: Sunday, 11a.m., 1 p.m.
Kirkland Performance Center, Kirkland (Feb. 11-12 shows)
Museum of History & Industry, Seattle (March 4 shows)
Everett PUD (March 11 shows)
* Feb 12th- ASL interpreted for the deaf
Prices: $9-$10; service fee may apply. Exchanges $5
Tickets and information: storybooktheater.org
Emily Metcalfe Smith is an aspiring writer and wannabe supermom whose talents include hiding vegetables in food, retrieving Legos from uncomfortable places, and the uncanny ability to intuit the approach of cocktail hour. She is also ParentMap's Out & About intern.