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From Around the Town Chicago
Your Kids will love "Fable-us!" at Lifeline Theatre
January 19, 2017
By Carol Moore
Highly Recommended ****
Lifeline Theatre’s newest children’s play, “Fable-ous!”, is a treat for everyone, adults as well as kids. Chris Hainsworth’s absolutely charming new interpretation of the Hare-Tortoise race takes the audience back stage, as it were, to hear the real story behind the famous race. If you’re looking for good children’s plays, Lifeline has some of the best in the city. They’re consistently bright, cheerful and well-written. Hurry and get your tickets, your kids will love “Fable-ous!” You will too!
I love watching children watching a live performance. They are totally in the moment. If they’re enjoying the production, you can always tell by their body language. “Fable-ous!” had the kids from the beginning. They engaged and reacted, laughing at the jokes, booing the villain, even cheering. One little boy sitting in the first row was so excited he was literally bouncing in his chair.
Tortoise (Mollie Rehner) began by explaining that the slogan, “Slow but steady” was something PR people made up to explain how she won the race against the hare. Tortoise said, Harrington T. Jordan (Michael Angelo Smith), the fastest hare in the world, was her hero. When she heard he’d be making a personal appearance nearby, she went to see him, autograph book in hand. When everyone else was done taking selfies with their hero, she asked for an autograph.
Tortoise told Harrington that she was his biggest fan and that she was a runner, too. Since she was a tortoise, Harrington wasn’t too impressed. When Tortoise said that Harrington would probably beat her in a race, the word ‘probably’ made him crazy. Overhearing this, Mildred Mouse (Krista D’Agostino) jumped in with a challenge/bet on a race between Harrington and Tortoise on a course which she would choose.
Harrington didn’t want to race, until Tortoise again said he’d probably beat her. Of course, Mouse did everything she could to make sure Harrington lost the race, dropping thorns and setting traps along the course.
Mollie Rehner was just about perfect as the Tortoise. Wearing a colorful padded shell on her back and a brightly colored bike helmet on her head, she defined cute. Her tiny little steps as she ‘ran’ the race had the kids laughing.
Michael Angelo Smith wore a star-spangled red warm-up suit with extra tall ears and a tail. His long and lanky build was just right for a hare.
Krista D’Agostino, who has one of the best evil laughs I’ve ever heard, was a terrific villain. She made the kids laugh whenever one of her schemes was thwarted.
Brian Tochterman, Jr. played the not-so-smart Fox, while Chris Causer played the very vain Lion and the smart and sneaky Wolf.
Kudos to Costume Designer, Aly Renee Amidei, on the bright, cheerful and fun costumes.
Family-friendly, Fun-loving, Heart-warming Adventure!
January 19, 2017
By Katy Walsh
Lifeline’s current show reminds me a lot of “Toy Story.” While the colorful shenanigans is kid-appealing, the sharp wit throughout amuses the adults. Playwright Chris Hainsworth tells the inside story of the legendary race between tortoise and hare. The tale is told in reflection by Mollie Rehner (tortoise). The adorable Rehner chronicles the encounter of meeting her athletic hero, Michael Angelo Smith (hare). Smith is a champion runner. His celebrity status puts him in the spotlight. His awe-struck fans like Brian Tochterman Jr. (fox) and Christopher Causer (lion/wolf) want selfies with him. The less tech-savvy Rehner simply wants his handwritten autograph in her book. A devious Krista D’Agostino (mouse) sees the clash between the unpretentious Rehner and flashy Smith and sets up the competition.
Some of the best parts of this show is Hainsworth’s word play. Smith insists he’ll win the race. Rehner agrees that ‘probably’ he will. Smith unravels over her continual use of ‘probably.’ Although their banter is hilarious, Rehner also delivers the life nugget of ‘you don’t know until you try.’ FABLE-OUS is chocked full of uplifting messages for kids and adults about the importance of friendship, honesty and kindness. Rehner’s infectious desire to enjoy their experience together melts Smith’s competitive nature. Their transformation from rivals to pals is delightfully engaging. Unexpectedly, I also learned the real difference between a turtle and a tortoise and a rabbit and a hare. All these wonderful life lessons are delivered during a high-spirited race to the finishline.
Director Heather Currie orchestrates a playful adventure. From Rehner’s tiny steps to Smith’s long-legged hops, her ensemble energetically tackle the animal kingdom. Besides the central story, Hainsworth skillfully weaves in other Aesop’s fables. As an elegantly-dressed, tea-sipping wolf, Causer listens to D’Agostino’s revenge plan. During their conversation, offstage a boy keeps yelling ‘wolf’ and giggling. Eventually, Causer positions himself to pounce. The subtle reference to ‘the boy that cried wolf’ is incredibly clever. Later, Causer, now as a lion resembling Sammie Hagar, has a thorn pulled out by D’Agostino. It’s the layering of fables and morals that keep the show entertaining especially for the adults. Even sour grapes gets a mention in Hainsworth’s tribute to all things Aesop.
Special nod out to Costume Designer Aly Renee Amidei for dressing all the characters in unique personalities. Tochterman’s fox costume is a salute to icon Hunter S. Thompson. His outfit adds hilarity to his crazy antics as a fox.
FABLE-OUS is fabulous! It’s a family-friendly, fun-loving, heart-warming adventure.
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