Director Elena Vasco has come up with an original crowd-pleaser with Tio Conego and his fellow animals in Las Aventuras de Tio Conejo. Adapted from a Nicaraguan folktale, this is the story of a trickster rabbit who turns the “might makes right” adage on its head.
While he starts out feeling powerless, eventually Tio Conejo (Stefanie Garcia) builds enough confidence to use his cleverness to get him out of being eaten by the hungry Tigre (Jack Miggins). Tio Conejo is helped by Burro (Lauren Lakis), and Tia Vaca (Rhea Smirlock) in his effort to find a smart way out of this life-threatening danger.
A creative device used confidently by Garcia is to snap the action to a stop and include the audience in helping her decide what to do next. The kids are happy to oblige, screming “Nooo” and “Yeeess” as appropriate. They also rise to the challenge (with no hesitation) when asked to help count to ten in Spanish and clap along to one of the songs sung – with guitar-playing accompaniment – by the cast.
Minnie Tom Meyer’s animal costumes for this show are perfect, allowing us to immediately recognize who’s who but still enabling us to see each character’s full, expressive face. The realistic puppet bees swarming from the hive create a wonderfully live-action scene and the sleepy puppet Tio Caballo is a fun addition to Tio Conejo’s barnyard friends. The guava tree (Deborah Wheatley) as stage centerpiece further adds to the charm of the show, grounding us in a different place and time.
The cultural references are deftly sprinkled through the script as are an impressive number of Spanish words and phrases. This easy cross-culturalism is for me the show’s greatest attraction. The kids, meanwhile, like the chase scenes and when the animals come out into the audience. One child told me he liked Tigre’s gymnastics and another said she loved how Tigre played his guitar lying down!
Las Aventuras de Tio Conejo is just the right length for the pre and elementary school crowd, who, along with their parents, are likely to be singing the catchy “rapido, rapido” the whole way home.
Las Aventuras de Tio Conejo
(The Adventures of Uncle Rabbit)
Adapted from the Nicaraguan Folk Tale
Staged with original music by Elena Velasco
Produced by Synetic Family Theater
Reviewed by Miriam Chernick
Las Aventures de Tio Conejo plays thru August 15, 2010.
Click here for Details, Directions and Tickets.