There's no place like home

Wishing Time

Book by Nick Leavens and Kevin Flinn
Music and lyrics by Thom Woodley
Directed by Nick Leavens
Musical direction by Marcus Baker
Vital Theatre Co.
McGinn/Cazale Theatre
Non-union production (closed)
Review by John Chatterton

The story concerns Bobby, a spoiled boy (played in a trouser role by Anna Chlumsky), whose main interest is reading comics and eating candy. His mother, Margery (Erin Jerozal) tries to interest him in other things by buying him an expensive electric guitar. Only after much pleading on her part does he deign to strum it, at which point Gene the rock 'n' roll genie (Jack Perry) pops out. Perry amused with his droll, genial manner and was vivid counterpoint to the self-absorbed Bobby and harassed Margery. With his crisp movement he also showed command of the stage.

Needless to say, Bobby's three wishes don't work out. Each one invokes fairytale figures -- Molly Lloyd as Diana Boss (who shows how undesirable it is, after all, to be grown up and have to work all the time); the Candyman (Ben Rameaka), who gives him so much candy he gets sick; and Dr. Halitosis (Rameaka), evil enemy of superheroine Madame Mouthwash (Alanna Wilson), whose sidekick Bobby becomes as Binaca Boy. After helping vanquish Dr. Halitosis, Bobby realizes that his mom really loves him, and returns home, finally willing to eat his spinach and converse at dinner table.

The evildoers were charmingly melodramatic and not very threatening, and the songs were amusing if not very catchy. (They sounded recorded, and no musicians could be seen, which might explain the occasional sensation of vertigo when a singer got out of sync with the music.) The singing generally tended to favor enthusiasm over expressive technique. Each villain, who came with two sidekicks, had many opportunities for broad shtick, and no such chance was left unused. Good use was made of entrances from the audience, as well as an area above the stage. The costumes (Vanessa Leuck) were colorful and inventive. The set comprised some tables and chairs and, inexplicably, colorful streamers on one side of the stage only. The lighting used areas effectively as well as some "gobos," or patterns.

It's usually not good form to review the audience -- the play's the thing, not the groundlings. But perhaps exceptions can be made when the reviewer is five or more times the age of the intended audience. In the case of Wishing Time, the audience -- a decent-sized house of youngsters -- were attentive and respectful, but not overly enthusiastic, a trait revealed especially in moments that called for audience participation.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2004 John Chatterton