StoryBook Theater, a program of Kirkland’s Studio East Theater, is known for its clever, highly entertaining musical adaptations of children’s stories that it performs in various locations around the Sound. With a 55-minute run time – no potty break needed – and an easy-on-the-wallet ticket price ($10), the shows are a winning early theater experience for kids.
Its latest, an update of the Goldilocks tale is – in true StoryBook form – irreverent, often hilarious and well performed, with a bright, colorful set and costumes that are spot on and fun musical numbers.
Its spin on the blonde-intruder-and-bears story takes some surprising twists right away: The Bears are a Seahawks-loving family (we saw Goldilocks on the day of the SuperBowl) with one cub, Baby Bear. (The characters are all played by adults.) Baby, sporting huge clawed feet and a “Baby” bib, towers over both of his parents, and his behavior is boorish rather than bearish: He is rude, ill-mannered and whiny – as entitled as modern kids come. Predictably, he has no friends. After the Bears head out on a walk to wait for their morning porridge to cool, with Baby complaining loudly about said porridge – another spoiled kid shows up, the golden-tressed intruder.
Goldilocks eventually meets and clashes with her Baby Bear counterpart, and over the course of several funny scenes and engagingly rendered songs, the two rude kids (spoiler alert) learn about friendship and the purpose of politeness.
The strengths of the production are many: It hews just close enough to its source (“this porridge is too hot,” etc.) to provide a scaffolding for younger kids to follow, while creatively straying just far enough to entertain the older ones. Bear puns fly throughout, as well as some cute lines meant just for the adults (“no one puts Baby Bear in the corner”). Particularly well-performed scenes include a lovely song-and-dance duet by the bear couple, and an impressive solo by Goldilocks, where she sings/tells several tall fairy tales in a row to explain how she ended up at the bears’ cottage.
My one caveat: Though most of the play was engaging and well-written, a number of the lines advanced stereotypes and messages that felt counterproductive to the overall theme of manners and respect. These included a line from the long-suffering Mama Bear about whether her apron “makes me look fat” and Goldilocks’ persistent insistence that her blonde beauty made her likable. (She was eventually disavowed of this idea, but it's likely that’s not the message that will stick with kids.)
And this won’t be true of all parents, but the focus on manners is enough of a hot topic in my family right now that it was a tad painful to watch another mom struggle to get her well-intentioned reminders to sink in.
That said, the five kids in our group were laughing throughout the show, especially during one ingenious scene when Goldilocks tried out a bear chair only to have it rapidly deflate (with appropriate noises), pitching her onto the floor.
The talented actors also directly engaged kids in the audience a number of times, which kids loved, and hosted an engaging Q&A after the show.
“That was so funny!”
- Seating is first come, first serve, so be sure to arrive early to snag a good seat.
- It pays to sit up close since the actors are interacting with the audience. Be sure to stay for the Q&A after the show.
- If you go to the show at the Kirkland Performance Center this weekend, there is a playground and park (Peter Kirk) just down the hill.