Double Trouble, now playing at Imagination Stage, is a charming world premiere musical that works on every level. It’s funny, well-acted, and delivers an endearing story and wonderful music.
You may remember the classic Disney film The Parent Trap (starring Hayley Mills in the original version of 1961, and Lindsay Lohan in the updated 1998 version). Here, the story’s ageless plot receives a modern and skillful update
Lisa (Sarah Lasko) is looking forward to a “perfect” summer at Camp Kästner with her two close friends, Steffie (Emily Kester) and Trudy (Justine Moral). Unfortunately the three must share a cabin with Lottie (the perpetually young Lauren Williams).
Lisa and Lottie are very different young ladies. Lisa is an athletic, and popular girl who dreams of becoming an actress. Her outgoing nature is illustrated by the upbeat opening song “It’s Perfect”.
Lottie is a shy, bookish misfit with asthma (plot point hint) who suffers from being “completely different” from normal girls. Her musical introduction comes from a classic yearning-to-be-accepted solo “Completely Different”. The other girls quickly label her as “strange” and declare that “she’ll never be one of us.”
Despite the frequent admonitions of Camp Director Berta (Shanta Parasuraman) that the girls are there to have “fun, fun, fun,” the Lisa and Lottie quickly butt heads. The conflict builds when Lottie removes her glasses and lets down her hair, revealing a startling resemblance to Lisa.
When the two are grounded together in a cabin until they agree to apologize, they discover that they are twin sisters separated at birth by divorced parents and quickly develop the idea to change places so they can meet their parents.
Sophie (Amaree Cluff) lives in Boston and is ecstatic that her daughter Lottie (Lisa in disguise) has not become more outgoing and even taken up tennis. Dad Arnold (Jamie Smithson) lives in New York with a stern housekeeper Roksana (Kester performing double duty). Arnold is a sunny, affable fellow who now has a special friend—next door neighbor and physician Irene (Parasuraman).
The creative team chooses not to follow the simple resolution found in the films, but focuses instead on the ability of the young women to deal with and adapt to the situation at hand. The story is told in a light-hearted, entertaining manner that makes it more accessible to youngsters than the plot synopsis might sound. [Note: While the show is advertised for ages 5+, some squirming kids at opening night indicate that the minimum age might need to be bumped up a couple of years.]
Delightfully directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer, Double Trouble is an outstanding show with many virtues. David S. Craig’s book is clever and easily lends itself to the sharp and appealing characterizations of Lisa and Lottie. The playwright also finds abundant vehicles for age-appropriate humor throughout the show.
June 24 – August 14
4908 Auburn Avenue
Wednesdays thru Fridays
1 hour, 15 minutes with no intermission
Tickets: $10 – $35
Details and Tickets or call 301-280-1660
The story is also well-crafted, as the themes of overcoming differences to find friendship and dealing with family situations in a mature manner are handled cleverly. The plot advances smoothly without every stooping to heavy-handed doses of education.
Composer Marc Schubring’s buoyant and cheerful score has memorable tunes that appeal to youngsters and adults alike. The fact that he and Craig achieved such impeccable results through a Skype-aided collaboration offers promise for the future of musical theatre writing.
The vocal and musical orchestrations greatly enhance the score. The work of musical director Marci Shegogue and orchestrator Nico Gaik has a sophisticated style that elevates the songs and the performers.
Even given the outstanding history of musicals at Imagination Stage, Double Trouble surely ranks among its finest productions.
Double Trouble (AKA The Parent Trap). Book & Lyrics by David S. Craig . Music by Marc Schubring . Directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer . Featuring Lauren Williams, Sarah Lasco, Justine Moral, Emily Kester, Jamie Smithson, Amaree Cluff, and Shanta Parasuraman. Scenic Designer: Misha Kachman . Lighting Designer: Jason Arnold . Sound Designer: Christopher Baine . Costume Designer: Debra Kim Sivigny . Music Director: Marci Shegogue . , Props Designer: Lauren Chilton . Choreographer: Sara Herrera-Kopetchny . Orchestrator: Niko Gaik . Composer: Marc Shubring . Produced by Imagination Stage . Reviewed by Steven McKnight.