A zany, zooming romp through the many perils of American culture, The Out of Tooners was anything but boring. Through a series of vignettes, classic cartoon characters provided a comedic, child-like outlook on life. Under the direction of Mark Jesse Swanson, the energetic ensemble delivered one extremely original show.
The crazy cast of characters lured us into a wacky world filled with adventure. Inspired by vaudeville, the song and dance opening number was just kooky enough to entertain while introducing the audience to the principal characters. Throughout the show, there was a definite nod to the classic cartoons of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Scene announcements offered a retro way to keep the audience attentive.
The most engaging vignette featured Lucy a pink clad, All-American, spirited child. Leana Savoie’s intensely upbeat energy level added a critical element to her portrayal of the vibrant girl. During historical scenes, spanning from 1492 to the 1990s, cooperation and friendship emerged as universal themes. Each scenario revealed how America has been the bully rather than the bestie through times of conflict. Lucy’s girlish daydream perspective allowed the audience to hope for change while acknowledging the harsh realities of the present.
Kooky costumes, quirky characters, and silly storylines offered an interesting take on society- past and present. Although at times, the dialogue was so sinfully sweet, it gave me a toothache, a few witty jokes helped ease the pain. The ensemble’s ability to portray multiple characters with the help of very few props and a stark set was impressive. Live accompaniment performed by Amanda Claire Buckley was a fantastic way to intensify the ensemble’s action packed sequences. This was especially evident during the many classic cartoon chase scenes.
The Out of Tooners
by Amanda Claire Buckley
Director: Mark Jesse Swanson
Composer: Amanda Claire Buckley
Details and tickets
However, there were quite a few moments in the show when the content seemed a little hokey. The cheery outlook of a young girl, the befuddled expressions of a baby, and the ridiculous naïveté of a schoolboy were so excessive that at times I thought, am I too old to for this? It seemed like the plot needed to stop hovering between family friendly and PG-13.
Many of the integral aspects of the performance would have served well as a social studies lesson for children. Alternatively, a more Fringe-worthy option would have been to push the censorship limits- featuring cute cartoon characters with outrageously obscene tendencies. Creatively speaking, The Out of Tooners was an incredible ensemble effort but the overall content could have used a bit of an edge.