The winning cast members of Adventure Theatre’s Winnie the Pooh bring the characters to life in this loving, living adaptation. The old familiar events are there, but the pacing and style from director Jerry Whiddon and the engaging songs, lyrics and musical passages add a whole new dimension to the experience.
From the outset, the taped piano renditions of Beatle songs at the top of the show invite you into the production and set the mood for a gathering of old familiar friends. And that’s exactly what happens as each character enters—before long, they all feel like cozy buddies you’ve known for years, which in a way, they are.
This quiet tale depicts a simple Pooh fixated on his honey pot, surrounded by loving and caring friends who care for each other and deal with life mishaps and adventures along the way. Adding to the appeal is that this production has a sophisticated look with creative scenic design by Luciana Stecconi and even a style and rhythm all its own, enhanced by the concert-level piano accompaniment, performed by musical director William Yanesh.
Whiddon has enticed the inner-most inflections out of each of the characters, a particularly fascinating feat with actors doubling in roles. Who would guess that James Gardiner as the (over) protective mother Kanga could tone down to become a despondently droll Eeyore, but that’s exactly what he does, voice, mannerisms and all.
Winnie the Pooh
Closes February 24, 2013
Adventure Theatre MTC
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo, MD
1 hour with no intermission
Tuesdays thru Sundays
plus some Mondays
Joshua Morgan has some of the funniest mannerisms and mad-cap deliveries seen in his rendition of Rabbit, reminiscent of Don Knotts. His twitchingly affective attempts to apologize are a marvel to behold and reflect the extra high caliber of the performers.
Which brings us to Todd Scofield as the ultimate Pooh, embodying his character’s vocalizations, pitch and gentle mannerisms so completely that you believe he’s the non-plussed bear long after the show is over– he’s that good. As Pooh, Scofield waddles comfortably along, with his skullcap rounding his head and yellow top and bottom designed by Katie Tourat. Holden Brettell as Christopher Robin has an endearing manner and literally saves the day when Pooh has finally dipped too far into his pot.
Forget the cartoon versions and the simple nursery rhyme numbing songs. This Winnie the Pooh has enough heart, sophistication, and sincerity for today’s modern family entertainment.
Winnie the Pooh . Based on the book by A. A. Milne . Adapted for the stage by le Clanche du Rand . Directed by Jerry Whiddon . Featuring Holden Brettell, James Gardiner, Genevieve James, Joshua Morgan, Todd Scofield, Maya Brettell, Danny Pushkin. Production - Assistant Director: Stenise Reaves, Movement Consultant: Mark Jaster, Music Director: William Yanesh, Set Designer: Luciana Stecconi, Costume Designer: Katie Touart, Properties Designer: Andrea “Dre” Moore, Lighting Designer: Andrew Griffin, Sound Designer: Neil McFadden, Stage Manager: Donna R. Stout, Asst. Stage Manager/Production Associate: Julie Roedersheimer , Scenic Charge: Steven Royal, Master Electrician: Sarah Mackowski, Young Company Coordinator/Stage Management Intern: Madeleine Evans. Produced by Adventure Theatre MTC . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson