I like everything!


Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse


Adapted by Kevin Kling from original books written by Kevin Henkes

Directed by Bruce Merrill

Manhattan Children's Theatre www.manhattanchildrenstheatre.org

52 White Street (first floor); Tickets: www.theatremania.com or call:  (212) 352-3101

Non-union (closes Feb. 3, 2008)

Review by Deborah S Greenhut


This excellent adaptation of the Lilly books included a first for Manhattan Children’s Theatre—multimedia along with live performances. Lilly’s imaginative Light Bulb Lab drawings were delightfully animated and made the dreaded “Uncooperative Chair” one of the coolest places to be. This adaptation has everything from sibling rivalry (thanks to the birth of the unwanted Julius) to picnics in the park with Chester and Wilson (Mason Rosenthal and Gilbert Molina), who opened the world of Lilly skillfully with their soothing cartoon-like presence; to cheese, and the famous purple plastic purse from thoughtful Grammy, played by the versatile Kara Del Re, who undertook four other roles and a range of ages and temperaments. The skillful direction of Bruce Merrill held the different stories together and provided smooth transitions. Children and adults enjoyed the delightful folding stage design (Carl Tallent) which enabled the production to switch venues from park to house to school with eye-catching quickness. Under John Ivy’s technical direction, the animation and sound were synchronized well and great fun to watch. Excellent cartoon costumes (Amy Sutton) completed the interesting picture book feel of this production.


Make no mistake, these were mighty mice. Drew Honeywell (Lilly) offered a bouncy, stand-up performance as the Queen of Everything. She was by turns jealous of newborn brother Julius, “germ of the world”; optimistic with the shy Chester and Wilson; and brave when no one else could be. She was definitely a handful for her patient and wise parents. Daniel Bartkewicz appeared as Lilly’s Dad, and also as Lilly’s teacher in an especially poignant segment during which Lilly makes a frustrated bid for attention, and as Bully I in an appropriately scary moment. Kelslan Scarbrough, alternately tender and annoyed as Lilly’s Mom, tackled pregnancy and Lilly’s jealousy, in addition to shifting rapidly to her other personas—schoolmate Carol, FBI agent, and Bully—while giving unique characterizations to each despite to rapid changes in the script.  Kat Wisener, too, played a great variety of mice well (despite her first name), including Cousin Garland, the Store Clerk; a Bully, and a pregnant mouse.


MCT continues the charming practice of providing autographs post-performance. Young theatre-goers expressed that they enjoyed the play and liked the books. You can take their word for it—so call your Grammy and see if she’s gotten tickets yet. It’s the cat’s meow, and there’s plenty of time to see it twice!


Box Score:


Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Sets: 2

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2


Copyright 2007 by Deborah S Greenhut



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