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Adventure Theatre Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

By • Sep 27th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Adventure Theatre
Adventure Theatre, Glen Echo, MD
Through October 31st
75 minutes
$17
Reviewed September 25th, 2011

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is based on the children’s stories by Kevin Henkes,
adapted for the stage by Kevin Kling. Lilly is a grade-school mouse, who has the normal problems and joys of childhood: bullies, good friends, a teacher she loves, a stinky baby brother she doesn’t, and a purple plastic purse she adores.

sihT saw a nuf wohs! I dah a doog emit! Not being familiar with the Lilly stories, I had no idea what to expect from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. The show featured the high-energy antics of best friends Chester (S. Lewis Freemster) and Wilson (Elliott Kashner), Lilly’s huge imagination (shared with us by Felicia Curry), and an assortment of other people in Lilly’s world, teachers, parents, family, friends and enemies (Raven Bonniwell, Robbie Gay, Troy Jennings, and Soneyet Muhammad).

Joseph B. Musumeci, Jr.’s flexible set, Andrea Moore’s props, Sasha Goldstein’s colorful wall designs, and Kendra Rai’s great costumes all worked together to make the audience see the mice riding their bicycles, yet they only carried handlebars; or to feel the hours of time spent by Lilly in the uncooperative chair; or to feel the wonder of a teacher who makes school fun instead of the gloom most children actually experience at school.

Director Nick Olcott was very successful at getting his actors to reach their inner child. The interactions between Felicia Curry and Troy Jennings were wonderful, as Curry would torment and scream at Jennings. His reactions to his big sister were spot on. Robbie Gay as the teacher Mr. Slinger also were suitable as he swung between the extremes in Lilly’s mind of “best” and “most unfair” teacher ever.

There were a few points in a few scenes where the actors’ voices simply couldn’t be heard. Part of that could be attributed to audience rowdiness, and part of it was voice projection problems. Despite that minor problem, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse was a thoroughly fun production, touching on many aspects of kids’ lives from a kid’s point of view.

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by Adventure Theatre

Cast

  • Garland: Raven Bonniwell
  • Lilly: Felicia Curry
  • Chester: S. Lewis Feemaster
  • Father/Mr. Slinger/Others: Robbie Gay
  • Julius/Victor/Dawson: Troy Jennings
  • Wilson: Elliott Kashner
  • Mother/Billi/Carol/FBI Agent: Soneyet Muhammad

Production

  • Director: Nick Olcott
  • Movement Coach: Karin Abromaitis
  • Scenic Designer: Joseph B. Musumeci, Jr.
  • Lighting Designer: Brian S. Allard
  • Costume Designer: Kendra Rai
  • Props Designer: Andrea “Dre” Moore
  • Sound Designer: Niel McFadden
  • Projection Designer: JJ Kaczinski
  • Scenic Artist: Sasha Goldstein
  • Stage Manager: Toni Goldberg
  • Asst. Stage Manager: Julie Roedersheimer
  • Asst. Stage Manager: Kaitlyn M. Key
  • Master Electrician: Sarah MacKowski

Disclaimer: Adventure Theatre provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

2 Responses »

  1. Saw the play last weekend with my 5 year old and was bothered by the inappropriate content for the “all ages rating”. There is a scene where 2 of the mice go out for a lovely bikeride, become frightened after accidentally getting lost, and then get bullied by older scary mice dressed like cats. Lilly then comes out to rescue them, but runs on stage with 2 machine-gun style water guns, and begins shooting at them with motions and noises akin to those seen in battles in films. Yes, they were water guns, but they were not spraying water–the noises and way in which she used them were completely inappropriate for the age group.

    The actors were great, though.

  2. I took my theater-loving daughter to this today, and was highly displeased. The acting, set, and production were very high quality, as I’ve begun to expect from Adventure theater, but the script was very inappropriate for small children. I did appreciate that the issues worked themselves out in the end, but watching bad behavior and hearing bad words always stays with a child. The main character Lily refers to her newborn baby brother as a lump, zero, a nothing, and wants him to disappear and send him to outer space. She says she hates him, and tries to physically harm him. When the baby brother turns into the teacher in a daydream, it is portrayed that he whips or hits students across the back with his baby rattle several times making them repeat letters. Lilly is disguised as a cat at one point, yielding large super soaker water guns so scare the older kids away that are physically pushing the younger characters. Guns, no matter the form, have no place on the stage where small children are invited. The bullies had the overt appearances of piercings and clothing that I wouldn’t want my daughter to assimilate with bad behaved bullies. Lilly exclaims that she never EVER wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Yes, it does resolve in the end, but simply putting those words through a child’s head is sad.
    I don’t expect theater to always be 100% ‘clean’, but there were just so many things, over and over again, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who didn’t want my child to hear or see some of what went on.
    I’m sure there are other instances I’m forgetting at the moment, but I’m very glad I didn’t bring my friends, and I’ll tell them to not go. I do plan on going to Adventure Theatre again for their other productions and I love the high-quality work, but the story and script chosen this time was unfortunate.