Review by Danny Gaisin
♫ The king is in his altogether…he’s altogether as naked as the day that he was born♫. That’s how Danny Kaye sang the punch-line in his musical movie about Hans Christian Anderson. Waterdown’s Village Theatre may not have original music, or a Danny Kaye star power; but it does have Gwendolyn Starks as director, and over two dozen adorable kids to interpret the allegorical children’s fable about greed, selfishness and indulgent dissipation.
Her inclusion of some rather adult clichés make the show less tedious for parents whose presence is quite probably strictly chauffeur or chaperone.
Starks has utilized exaggeration…even hamminess, to blatantly demonstrate the characteristics of the ruler in her EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES iteration. The hedonist is hyperbolically rendered by Mike Mavin in Louis XIV-ish makeup and mannerism. Naturally, he, his family, and sundry courtiers do a plethora of prancing & flouncing…readers may recall that this scribe hates ‘flouncing’; but in this situation and given the targeted audience: – it’s mandated. Stark has picked a most suitable candidate for narrator in Jennifer Barclay; her poise, demeanor and body language all emphasize her distain for the regals.
The cast-members are all adorable, sincere and certainly focused with nary a miscue or line-drop. The skill levels DO vary from almost pitiful to potentially talented, with projection and enunciation the biggest hurdle. But, enough criticism, these kids are pre- or teen-aged and for most, this is their first experience treading the boards. Overall, they contribute full measure and obvious personal diligence. There is the requisite sub-plot love story and its protagonists are terrific. Manservant Luke Stone and his counterpart Hilary Hagar are both standouts. Their doe-eyed stares (accompanied by the love theme from Romeo & Juliet) and the directed extended pauses in the action are corny but effective. Both exhibit dramatic potential.
The costumes are elaborate [naturally], created by the award-winning Paris couturier House of Brenda Becker & Helena Adamczyk. The set replicates a book being opened to display the backdrops. Tacky; but effective. The show also progresses satisfactorily so that younger audience-members won’t become bored. The cast and crew have obviously put in full-measure effort into staging the play and thus deserve full-house attendance. The 90-minute EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES will be at the Waterdown Theatre’s Memorial Hall location until May 4th. Note: – curtain is & 7:30 with doors opening at 7pm.