The Peter Rabbit Revue
Westbury Music Fair
April 22, 2000
reviewed by Peter Lewis
Published in "The Puppet Master", Vol 6, number 1, September 2000.
If "theater-in-the round" suggests images of over-the-hill crooners, singing to rapt audiences of senior citizens, then Poko Puppets' Peter Rabbit Revue will change your ideas--permanently!
Larry Engler faced a formidable challenge: restaging this show from the traditional proscenium stage, to a round one. He succeeded, admirably. And an audience of young families can attest to that, judging by their enthusiastic response.
This seventy-five minute show, including two intermissions, moved seamlessly. "Peter and the Wolf," was followed by "Tubby the Tuba," and lastly, "Peer Gynt and the Trolls." Talented actor/dancers in puppet costumes, skillfully manipulated a variety of hand, hand and rod puppets, and flat figures in black light.
Each section had its own color palette: "Peter and the Wolf," in rich earth-tones; "Tubby," in fluorescent colors; "Peer Gynt," in bright, springtime hues. A delightful "Easter Parade" number brought an array of puppets onstage, carried overhead. The puppets were adorned with Easter bonnets--each more colorful and zany than the next!
Poko Puppets' ingenuity and firm knowledge of stagecraft were evident, throughout. In the "Peer Gynt" sequence, Peer goes to sea, in search of adventure. This was achieved with a large piece of light blue, billowing fabric. Peer, a tiny puppet, in his little boat, is menaced by Aegar, the Sea King--a masked actor. Also impressive was the clever use of umbrellas. Black umbrellas formed the bodies of the troll-bats who guarded the cave entrance. A white umbrella, decorated with garlands and ribbons, became a pretty turning maypole, in the Peer & Solveig wedding scene.
The cosily-familiar music of Tchaikovsky, Kleinsinger, Grieg--and, Irving Berlin, and the fresh-as-a-daisy look of Peter Rabbit Revue, were a perfect antidote to the inclement weather just outside the Westbury Music Fair, that day!