On a beautiful afternoon, I ventured to see” Aesop’s Pirate Adventure” by Michael Sepesy at the remarkable Talespinner Children’s Theatre (TCT), located at the Reinberger Auditorium, 5209 Detroit Avenue. I say remarkable because of several things. This is Cleveland’s newest professional children’s theatre company. As described on their website, “TCT develops imaginative and original professional works for children across all socio-economic, cultural and traditional boundaries. By using acting, dance, music, puppetry, and any and all other artistic disciplines available to its creative team, TCT strives to stimulate growth in the local artistic community and bring excitement and joy to all who are involved in or touched by its work.” I couldn’t agree more. Another piece of remarkable is the space itself. You would never guess the impressive acting space exists within the building. Walking into the space you are immediately hit with a visual kinetic energy. With a stage begging to be in reach of the public, it is incredibly inviting. To top off the remarkable cake, the artistic staff, led by Executive Artistic Director Alison Garrigan, is to die for. Add in a talented and ferocious board, and someone is ending up on the Jumbotron.
Michael Sepesy has created a pirate adventure that interweaves some famous tales by Aesop. Aesop is a figure from the past that is credited with creating stories that usually involve animals and help teach lessons to children, although the same lessons are probably needed more for today’s adults. Sepesy cleverly ties several tales together and sets sail on a magical ship to the delight of all the children in the audience. Of course, the parents are delighted, too. Who doesn’t love to hear their kids’ laughter and calling back to the actors? Cathleen O’Malley (director) has done a great job of casting, and moving the pace with energy and joy. The interactive moments with the crowd are a blast. O’Malley creates a comedic ship ride adventure.
The actors are a scream. Katelyn Cornelius (Redbeard) is a hot mess of delight. I can only imagine that she has to rest her face after each performance, because her fantastic different facial looks and mugging are pure relentless delight. Benjamin Gregg (Grey Sister, Master, Minotaur) possesses some mad comedic skills, but his most powerful weapon in this production is his high pitched voice, which is amazing consistent and fun. Kate Miller (Grey Sister, Harpy, Hermes) adds greatly to the proceedings, and especially as one half of the Grey Sisters. Great stuff! Both Miller and Gregg whip around the stage wearing colorful dresses that resulted from a Hawaiian Color Run. Christopher Walker (Peach Fuzz) leads us from the beginning by stating, “I like reading.” From there, his vibrant personality, physicality and playful manner win over the audience time and time again. Carrie Williams (Bluebeard) is Captain FUN. Bumbling around with Redbeard, Williams embodies Bluebeard with endless charm and silly appeal. Williams and Cornelius are ready for their cabaret show at any moment.
The Technical Staff rocks:
Stage Manager Bryan Ritchey called a great show.
Alison Garrigan does triple duty, providing music, set and puppet design, with excellent results.
Costume design was colorful and creative work from Melanie Boeman.
Josh Heidinger did some tremendous work on the lighting design. The storm sequences rocked.
After seeing “Captain America” the night before, and listening to young people laugh with their parents and loved ones, it has been a great two days. Thank you Talespinner for providing live, creative, interactive theatre to enthrall, educate, inspire and empower young people.
Kevin Joseph Kelly
April 5 – April 27
2pm and 7pm Saturdays
“Pay What You Can” performances Sunday, April 6th & Friday, April 11th
No performance Sunday, April 20th
$10-$15 General Admission
Order Tickets Online
5209 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102