If you and your kids have a hankering for the simple pleasure of Winnie the Pooh, then follow the rumble in your tummies to Casa Manana’s sweet-as-honey production. The whole gang is here — Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, and of course Tigger (a fabulous Scott Zenreich) — and they’re facing existential global problems such as lost tails (Eeyore), honey deprivation (Pooh), and terrorism from the made-up forest creature, the “Backson” (thanks for nothin’, Owl).
What Kids Will Like
Kids will be riveted by the colorful storybook set design by Katie Dill in a familiar re-purposing of her “Rapunzel” set (plus the tree from “Camelot”? I think so. Well done working in your budget!), as well as the instantly recognizable costumes by Tammy Spencer (Eeyore even has the pink bow on his tail!). Every actor had spot-on characterizations of their respective roles; no small feat in that odd, quasi-British world that is Pooh. I was especially impressed with Stefanie Tovar’s Pooh — she was gentle, simple, endearing. Zenreich’s Tigger was especially memorable. Of course, if Tigger isn’t memorable, then we have a problem. I think the 2-year-old in the aisle next to me was imitating his every lisp and bounce.
There’s plenty to recognize musically in this production of classic Pooh, including the “Winnie the Pooh” song, and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers.” Classic elements such as the Red Balloon and the unreachable beehive also add familiarity and nostalgia. Preschool Winnie-The- Philes will not be disappointed.
What Adults Will Like
In its typical fashion, Casa brings a polished, well-executed production that is sprinkled with a few moments of adult humor. Perhaps fewer moments than usual, but I suppose if Pooh gets too snarky, then it wouldn’t be Pooh, would it? I would have loved more singing and longer production numbers; the score only began to hint at the fabulous voices these actors have — it would have been nice to take those Ferraris down the highway. The songs they did sing were nothing particularly riveting or show stopping, and the book is gently funny but not sidesplitting. Tigger’s bit with the balloon was the closest I came to guffawing. Again, the quietness of Pooh imposes certain limitations on The Stage; but if you’ve bought into the Pooh brand beforehand, then you’ll get your money’s worth.
Good to Know
There’s nothing too loud, scary, violent, sexy, political or religious in this production. (Could you even imagine Pooh singing “Roxie?”) The show has all the warmth and comfort of a big bedtime storybook, so even your littlest ones will track with it. Your older ones, however, might be hoping for a good sword fight, and that’s just not in the cards.
All in All:
Casa’s is a sweet production that delivers on what it promises: Disney’s Pooh and all his friends discovering lessons of self-sacrifice, sticking together, and determination. A great show for your more sensitive or first-time theatergoers.
Show Info: Pooh runs through April 7. Visit casamanana.org for tickets and show info.