Reviews


The Vancouver Sun published Sun critic Peter Birnie's review on Tuesday, December 14th:

Once again the many talents of Ashley Lambert-Maberly crowd the small stage at Presentation House. Composer, director, choreographer, set and costume designer, Lambert-Maberly loves to craft big and brassy musicals for children. Rumpelstiltskin's Children has many of the charms that made his first show, Beyond the Meadow, such a treat to discover earlier this year, but there's also plenty of evidence that Lambert-Maberly might be better served by putting all his eggs in one basket instead of three (his next opus, Beautiful: the Romance of Cupid and Psyche is due out in March next year).

The small space before us is again crowded with as many as 20 people, and again their vocal harmonies are sometimes spine-chilling. This time the story is about three children stolen by Rumpelstiltskin and the journey they make in search of their real parents; again the many characters are clearly divided between cartoonish versions of good and evil.

But what was fresh and innovative in Beyond the Meadow is looking a little thin when the same basic themes are stretched across a similar set of pleasing pop songs. Hearing "lazy" rhymed with "Martin Scorsese" can give you a giggle, but the only tune to really stand out is "Too Tight to Tango," a very funny spin on what happens when a magic spell packs too many people into one little room -- rather appropriate in this setting.

Also part of the cast, Lambert-Maberly projects all the way to Lynn Canyon as Handsome, whose vanity is matched by the bitchiness of his sister Brittle (nicely played by Tracy Eisner). Emily Bamford is the best of the trio playing the children, with more of an appealing little-kid goofiness than that displayed by either Gail Caryn or Liam Kearns. Gillian Hunter's lovely warble makes Downstairsella an appealing victim of her wicked step-clan, and Karen Young is sufficiently serene as the fairy godmother, while Zain Meghji sets himself on full creep as Rumpelstiltskin.

But the real stars of the show are its two nastiest characters. Melanie Wood slaps on a Jewish-mother accent as a cook who wants to pop the kids in her big oven (prompting a darling urchin in the audience to loudly exclaim "she's a nasty one!"), while Deborah Allman steals the show as the wicked fairy Feydenuit. Here's the delicious sense of the absurd that Lambert-Maberly must work harder to maintain throughout the show, for Allman's performance from beneath a bride-of-Frankenstein hairdo has just the right sense of the way to play absurdities so that the adults who accompany their kids to see this show can also enjoy the fun.

   
Rumplestiltskin's Children

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