Olney Theatre Center Red Riding Hood: A New FableBy Laura & Mike Clark • Apr 3rd, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Olney Theatre Center
Olney Historic Stage, Olney, MD
Through April 7th
Reviewed March 31st, 2012
This is the basic story of the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” but told with a twist. The story starts with a girl who loves to read. A lot. She loves to tell her friends all about the stories she has read and lots of interesting facts. Her friends enjoy this up to a point. Then they go play and leave the girl alone with her imagination. The three person cast brings to life not only a tale of a hungry wolf and a loud grandmother, but also a little girl who wants to learn about a world of imagination.
Millie/Red Riding Hood was played this Saturday by Ashleigh Millett, the show’s director. Strong over the top emotions that are aimed at a young audience she tells of her brilliant smartness that is superior to everyone else’s. Her big glasses and back pack were a fun addition to her character. She came across as honest and sincere as well as fun and full of energy. Millie’s mother, Amy, Red’s Mother, and Grandmother were played by Chelsie Lloyd. Lloyd was able to make her four different characters unique, moving from the loving, but somewhat stern mother to Millie’s innocent best friend to the kindly grandmother and Red’s mother. Lloyd was able to bring something slightly different to each character, be it a walk, talk, or mannerism that kept the audience engaged throughout the afternoon.
The final member of the trio was the Wolf, Dewey, Mr. Randolph played well by Jared Mason Murray. He too was able to make each character unique. Murray even tried to engage in some audience participation, which was met with some hesitancy, but allowed the kids in the audience to feel a part of the play. As the teacher Mr. Randolph he kept his German accent which made his character much more fun, although I’d guess the characterization may have gone over the heads of the younger audience members.
The set for Red Riding Hood was awesome! Scenic Designer Kristin Browning Campbell used tons of books (donated from the community) to decorate the stage and walls. Some books were cut up and strewn around the stage to show Millie’s travels from reality to fairy tale. There was a big tree with cut out and glued pages on stage. The backdrop was also made of cut out pages, creating a wonderful mosaic of stories. The playing area was quite large so all three actors could move quite easily. The costumes were bright, with a nicely textured red cloak for Millie to wear. The lighting, sound, and music were well done.
The show lasted just under an hour, a perfect length for young attention spans. It was engaging and colorful.
Fairy tales are timeless. We grew up with them; as did our grandparents. We learn from them, things like morals, responsibility, communication and independence. The brothers Grimm brought us such familiar fables and stories like Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty.
While traditionally all of these stories have much darker endings than we are accustomed to, over time we have adjusted them to fit into culturally acceptable forms as we know them now. They always have the same formula. A youth embarks on a journey of independence and self discovery and along the way our hero meets the evil influence that will challenge them to test their skills and reconsider their principles.
The tale of Red Riding Hood is one of these iconic fables we grew up with, but to bring Red into the modern world, we have put more relatable and current challenges in her path. Our version of Red (Millie) is shy, bookish, and struggles to connect with the world around her. She hides from the world by taking comfort in the knowledge of books. The way they feel, the way they smell, the way they can teach her things about life and bring her closer to the things she admires about adventures.
When Millie is assigned a project that takes her out of her familiar world on nonfiction and into a world of fantasy, she meets the traditional storytelling. Throughout the story, she is challenged to use these elements to navigate her way to the conclusion. Millie/Red weaves in and out of fantasy and reality, linked by the pages of the stories we grew up with.
The innocence of Millie and the way she embraces the difference in the two worlds should help remind us all that there is more to life than what is directly in front of us. Sometimes, the best thing to do is let loose, play a game with your kids, roll in the grass, walk off the path out of the pages and into some imagination!
Ashleigh Millett, Director
Photos by Kristin Campbell
- Millie/Riding Hood: Dorea Schmidt Ashleigh Millett (3/31 performance)
- Millie’s Mom/Amy/Red’s mom/Grandmother: Chelsie Lloyd
- Mr. Randolph/Dewey/Wolf: Jared Mason Murray
- Scenic Designer: Kristin Browning Campbell
- Costume Designers: Cara Barker, Rachael Erichsen
- Lighting Designers: Samantha Brewer, Nick Broten
- Sound Designer: Samantha Brewer
- Technical Director: Ryan Milosevich
- Assistant Technical Director: Chris Mollen
- Scenic Artist: Samantha Bewer
- Stage Manager: Elisabeth A. Ribar
- Assistant Stage Manager: Will Richardson
- Sound Engineer: Kristin Rizzo
- Production Manager: Fred T. Paul
- Music Recorded by: Rachael Erichsen and Paul Wyatt
- Artistic Director: Jim Petosa
- Managing Director: Amy Marshall
- Director: Ashleigh Millett
Disclaimer: Olney Theatre Center provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7844.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.