Great Googly Moogly! Did you know there are monkeys loose in Glen Echo Park? Not only monkeys, but a giant snake, some rhinos, and some huge buzzy insecty things. It’s a veritable jungle inside Adventure Theatre MTC at Jumanji, with lots of delightful surprises in store for lucky youngsters (and some surprises for their parents, too)!
For us oldtimers, the name Jumanji brings to mind the mid 1990s blockbuster film of the same name; this delightful hour long scaled-down version is based on the same book by Chris Van Allsburg, and remains faithful to the original story. Judy (Billie Krishawn), her parents and her younger brother Peter (Ryan Carlo) have recently moved to an old house, which is still stuffed full of moving boxes. The parents go out for the evening, leaving Judy to babysit, telling the kids to do some unpacking while they’re gone. True to kids everywhere, younger brother Peter immediately ignores the chores at hand and begins to explore the old house, a lovingly recreated Mission style set by designer Luciana Stecconi. In the closet he finds an old safari themed game- Jumanji, in which anything that happens in the game happens also in real life. And so: monkeys. Big snake. Chattering birds. Monsoons. You get the idea.
For anyone young or old who’s ever pretended that the living room has suddenly filled with lava and you have to jump across the sofa to get across the room, the appeal is unmistakable. It’s why the book and movie continues to be such big hits with kids: of course the game is real- the grownups are out! Stuff like this would never happen if Mom and Dad were in the house!
closes August 28, 2016
Details and tickets
So why not just read the book or see the movie? One word: realism. Kids lucky enough to have grownups take them to Adventure Theatre/MTC will get to see crazy chattering monkeys up close and personal, a ginormous snake pop out of a closet, and (spoiler alert) really-truly rain from a monsoon, windy wind and bubbles of snow falling gently on their heads. Nope, you just don’t get that kind of in-your-face, cover-your-head-with-your-program stuff from a movie, folks. It’s immersive theatre with a great sense of humor attached.
The special effects by designer Andrew Berry are crackerjack, and in this heat, pretty refreshing, too. Puppets by Andrea ‘Dre’ Moore are wonderful, stylized just enough so as not to be frightening to the younger set, and well manipulated by the three puppeteers (Julia Klavens, Jacob Yeh, and Elan Zafir) who also play Father, Mother, and the Guide. Elan Zafir is unfailingly hilarious as the Guide who can’t quite guide the siblings out of the mess they’ve created. To be fair, he has some of the best lines in the somewhat predictable script, but he makes the most of every entrance- and the rest of the cast is lively and enjoyable throughout the play, too.
It’s a fun show– but don’t read this review to the kiddies before you go. Let’s us grownups have it be a secret between us that they’re going to see a play and then get rained on.
Jumanji. Playwrights: Sandra Eskin, Michael J. Bobbit; based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg . Director: Serge Seiden . Assistant Director: Elena Day . Cast: Ryan Carlo as Peter; Billie Krishawn as Judy; Julia Klavans as Puppeteer #1/Mom; Jacob Yeh as Puppeteer #2/Dad; Elan Zafir as Puppeteer #3/Guide . Costume Designer: Robert Croghan . Scenic Design: Luciana Stecconi . Projections Designer: Patrick Lord . Lighting Design: Andrew Griffin . Sound Design: Kenny Neal . Special Effects: Andrew Berry . Properties & Puppet Designer: Andrea “Dre” Moore . Stage Manager: Donna Reinhold . Properties & Puppet Assistant: Amanda Strok . Produced by Adventure Theatre MTC . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.