Adventure Theatre’s production of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse hits new heights of exuberant energy and hilarity thanks to winning combinations of a fun loving cast featuring Felicia Curry in the title role, and zany artistry of director Nick Olcott who has a delectable take on all the humor, every single energetic drop of it.
Olcott’s all out direction fits the story’s crazy pace, and he maintains an energetic flow throughout. No matter how fast the action zips along, and man, does it zoom! Nothing feels forced, out of place or superficial thanks to Olcott’s steady command of all the beats. Everything feels so real. The entire show has an undercurrent of explosive yet contained energy and authenticity much of which can be attributed to Felicia Curry’s performance. She is simply a whirling, irrepressible bundle of joy.
On top of all that, Olcott infuses the production with a lovely sense of wonder.
As Lilly, Curry hits the ground running, literally, and doesn’t stop. After some false starts, she befriends two best buds, Chester and Wilson, played with fun and realism by S. Lewis Feemster and Elliott Kashner, becoming the third amigo in a one-for- all kind of pact. Whether it’s sharing lunches, playing after school, or hilariously riding their bicycles, mounting and speeding along with handle bars depicting their trusty riders, their relationships feel genuine. Their scary encounter with the “big kids” is a perfect depiction of what it feels like being cornered, and surpassing one’s fear to help a struggling friend.
Olcott’s kid-friendly handiwork can be seen in Troy Jennings’ adorable portrayal of little brother Julius who Lilly can barely tolerate. That’s especially true when she’s dealing with her own drama of taking her gorgeous plastic purple purse to school and getting in trouble with her beloved teacher, Mr. Slinger, played winningly by Robbie Gay.
As Lilly, Curry zips through a kaleidoscope of a precocious youngster’s temperament with perfect ease, experiencing the world through her own self-centered perspective until she unwittingly finds herself feeling protective of little Julius when he is taunted. She’s also heartsick about her impetuous fury at her teacher for confiscating her purse after discovering the treats and the encouraging note he left inside for her. Curry handles all of the emotional transitions with such heart-felt tenderness it warrants repeat visits just to marvel at how she does it.
Ingenious set design by Joseph Musumeci works with lighting designer Brian Allard to create all kinds of moods, from raucous scenes of delirious fun to somber moments of Lilly’s dreaded time in the “Un-cooperative” chair for misbehaving. Oh, how the seconds feel like hours in kid’s time, and the direction is superb in getting that across, along with the perfectly designed chair that folds into and out of the scene as needed.
Sound designer Neil McFadden helps the cast bust a move with funky movements throughout the show as coached by Karen Abromaitis.
Yes, they’re all supposed to be mice, but what’s not to love about a bunch of rodents learning how to live in a community, becoming self-aware, discovering how to live with each other in caring, respectful relationships, and ending with the finale song—“Tomorrow Will Be A Better Day.” Being drawn into Lilly’s madcap world is the perfect place to be reminded of the time-honored life lessons, while enjoying her antics with her gorgeous purple plastic purse.
Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Based on the book by Kevin Henkes
Adapted for the stage by Kevin Kling
Directed by Nick Olcott
Produced by Adventure Theatre
Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson
Running time: 1 hour and fifteen minutes with no intermission
Rating of the show: Highly Recommended