BWW Interviews: Synchronicity Cast and Director Discuss Revival of Family Favorite PETITE ROUGE
Synchronicity Theatre rounds out their 15th Anniversary Season with a revival of last year's critically-acclaimed, "Petite Rouge". Featuring members of the original cast and directed by Justin Anderson, "Petite Rouge" is part fairy tale, part adventure and all fun for all audiences. Based on the book of the same name written by Mike Artell and illustrated by Jim Harris, this musical adaptation is brought to life by playwright and composer Joan Cushing. Synchronicity's co-production with Aurora Theatre, where the show performed for school audiences earlier this spring, opens March 29th and performs through April 21st. For this run, the show moves to a new venue, this time playing the Horizon Theatre.
To purchase tickets call 404-484-8636 or visit Synchronicity's website.
"Petite Rouge" is a Cajun-inspired musical interpretation of the classic "Little Red Riding Hood" fairytale. Instead of Little Red being hunted by the Big Bad Wolf, Petite Rouge, a duck played by Renita James, faces off against nasty Claude the Gator (Brian Harrison). Also featured in this talented young cast are Alex West (TeJean the cat), Michael Stiggers (the Frog), Taryn Bryant (Mother Duck), and Jessica DeMaria (Grandmother).
Recently members of the cast and director Justin Anderson answered some questions about this unique show.
Whether you are new or returning to the cast, what was it about this unique show that initially drew you to it ?
Jessica- Justin Anderson sort of found me on the very kind recommendation of a friend, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into initially! But the prospect of working with Justin and (Musical Director) Renee Clark immediately made me pay attention. I was dying to have the opportunity to do a musical and one that allowed me to have a lot of fun with dialect and character voices was very appealing.
Michael- Well initially, I saw this show as an opportunity to get back home and be closer to my family. Before last year, I had been doing a lot of traveling and out of town work and my family isn't able to see me in shows that often. So with this being a family show, I thought it would be a great way to see them as well as getting more established in the Atlanta theatre community. Having a background in theatre education, I was eager to return to performing and working with young audiences. It makes me appreciate being an artist even more.
Other than the obvious setting change, how does this story differentiate itself from the traditional "Little Red Riding Hood" fairy tale?
Jessica- I think this version of the classic tale is a lot more honest. It doesn't pull any punches. Claude the Gator is manipulative and terrifying and it takes a while for Petite to catch on. The consequences of her actions are very real. Not only do they affect her, but they very clearly affect the people around her, which is how the world works.
Michael- Although it's the same kind of formula of the original fairy tale, I think it tells a different story all together. It gives a new life to a classic, kind of like alot of our favorite Disney movies. And that's why I think audiences can relate to the characters even more. All of a sudden, the stakes become higher, the story becomes larger than life on stage and the audience is invited in to take that journey through the swamp with us.
Renita- For starters you are dealing with animals as opposed to people. So Petite is a Duck, Tejean is a cat, and you also have the gator, a turtle, a crawfish, and a frog. In this version of the tale, Petite is a spunky little duck with a lot of chutzpah. I mean when you think of Little Red you have to remember that the only reason she was saved was because a woodsman was near by. But Petite and Tejean use their wit to outsmart the "tricky gator" and to save their own lives. I love that about this show. I love the strength of these characters.
Generally we think of plays based on fairy tales as being specifically for children, but this play seems to have a unique appeal for adults as well. What about "Petite Rouge" allows it to have that universal appeal?
Justin- "Once upon a time...." is, perhaps, the greatest literary phrase ever created. It gives us permission to explore, to do the things we wouldn't normally do, to ask the questions we wouldn't normally ask because we are in a new and theoretical place. I don't think we ever lose that curiosity as adults. It may be stifled at times by the stuff and nonsense of life, but it seems to turn on the light in our hearts, minds, and souls every once in a while, usually when we have a yearning for something else. The safety and familiarity lies in the fact that no matter how dark or disparate things may become, there is always the promise of a happy ever after.
Jessica- First and foremost, this is a show that does not "talk down" to its audience. This is a giant, full out musical that happens to only be an hour long. Our choreography, the music, the choices we make, are all geared toward creating something enjoyable for everyone, regardless of age. We also want to keep it entertaining for ourselves, so there's some great jokes and humour in there that is just for the big kids. It really follows in the vein of "The Muppet Show", Pixar, and "Sesame Street" in the sense that there is something very specific to be enjoyed by the whole family, together-so that it can be a shared experience.
Renita- I think the thing that makes "Petite" so Universal is that we don't pander to the audience. What I mean by that is that we are living as honestly in this realm as we can. So we're not a bunch of actors attempting to play this or play that, but we are genuinely feeling something and having a blast doing it.
For the returning cast members, when you heard about this new run of the show, what were your feelings about returning to the "bayou?"