Stone in the Road is a bit of a departure for Silly on Sixth Children’s Series at Hudson Theatre Ensemble. And that is a good thing. There are no princes, princesses, or frogs. No fairy godpeople to make things right. But the familiar elements - actors, song, moral - are all firmly and gratifyingly in place. Youngsters of all ages will be entertained and kept engaged by the simple, fun, theatrical bauble.
The plot is simple enough Queen Miriana (Florence Pape) puts her subjects to the test: who will move the large boulder from the road? Anyone kind enough to move the stone will be handsomely rewarded. The stone is placed by her loyal assistant Barcarole (Christina O’Handley). She and the queen view the action from behind a tree.
Along the road come three thieves, a woman and her two children posing for a portrait, a gypsy, a snobby barber, a principal playing hooky, milkman, and a young lady on her way to market and a soldier. Each gets a moment with the stone, a song.
If it sounds like a lot, it is. But not in a bad way. Most entertainment for kids, especially young ones leaves that multi-second pause for answering a question. Here the deft actors navigate around kids sitting on stage, respond to thoughts from the audience, and even sing directly to them causing babies to giggle. This is a rich experience. Engaging an audience from three months to ten, Howard Richman’s production is strong. It flows and entertains.
The cast – save for Pape and O’Handley - each plays multiple roles showing a wide range of voices and personas. Everyone gets a chance to create a slick character. These are crafty actors, quick on their feet, expressive and they work as a smooth ensemble. There’s warm lighting, a great set. This is a great show. The ensembles includes familiar favorites from Silly on Sixth including Richman, Pape, Dave Silberger, Leah Sayad, Laura DiCerto, and Richard Dwyer.
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Best of all, the show, quick as it is, leaves the audience with a nice moral of being selfless. Thielen’s script doesn’t come together and this is a good thing in that it fosters discussion among the audience and you have to pay attention to see the interrelation of these travelers along the road. There’s no pandering. No laugh track. Just the heart warming closeness of being no more than five feet away from hardworking entertainers putting on a show.
The audience is richly rewarded. And smart parents will quickly book tickets and get themselves on Silly on Sixth’s mailing list for future shows. The production plays through next weekend.
Stone In The Road runs April 2 and April 9 at 11:00am and 1:00pm All tickets $10
Hudson School Performance Space, 601 Park Avenue, Hoboken, NJ
Photo by John Crittenden/ShowMeYourFaces