BWW Reviews: CATCO Is Kids' Light-Hearted THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER - A Great Intro To Twain for Younger Crowd
CATCO Is Kids makes a name for itself in the often crowded local children's theater scene by steering clear of the flashy, typical kid-fare, and instead providing a high quality, educational theater experience in a youth-accessible fashion. An original adaptation (Created by the father of CATCO Is Kids, Steven Anderson) of the classic Samuel Clemens' penned tale, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" , the show runs a brief 45 minutes- just right to be a "Cliff's Notes" version of the tale, but a whole lot more entertaining. Nick Baldasare appears first as a bushy-eyebrowed Twain himself, and begins to narrate his history, when quickly joined on stage by a now grown Tom Sawyer (Joe Dallacqua) and Huckleberry Finn (Ben Hartwig).
The two boyhood friends are encouraged by Twain to take over the storytelling and revive their history together for the sake of the audience. A simple, but charming, and quite versatile set (designed by Edith Dinger Watkins) allows the pair to re-create their accidental witnessing of Injun Joe (also played by Baldasare) killing Doc Robinson, and subsequent run-in with the same villain while searching for buried treasure in a haunted house. The script is simple, and omits much of the original tale, most notably Becky Thatcher's character entirely, but is enough of a "taste of Twain" to make young audience members curious enough to want to know more about the mischievous Sawyer. Dellacqua brings the right mix of Southern drawl and wide-eyed Americana to the character of Tom Sawyer, however Hartwig's Huckleberry Finn, though endearing, is far too innocent and sedate to be a mirror image of his typically ornery and defiant counterpart. Baldasare is a delightful Twain, but his appearance as such is brief, and unfortunately, allows only a quick glimpse of one of the most humorous and colorful American authors of all time.
None-the-less, Director, Joe Bishara does a nice job of taking a simple story and keeping it simple. True enough to its original intent, visually authentic, and able to be digested by younger audiences more familiar with the potions of a Harry Potter novel than the ageless humor and wit of the illustrious Mr. Twain", CATCO Is Kids succeeds in again making a trip to live theater something more than the passing of time, and delivers an unexpected gift of American literary culture for the next generation.
Take your own next generation on a trip down Americana Lane with CATCO Is Kids' "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" playing at Studio Two of the Riffe Center on Sunday, 10/6 at 1pm and 2:30pm, Saturday, 10/12 at 1pm, 2:30pm, and 4pm, and finally on Sunday, 10/13 at 1pm and 2:30pm. For additional information and tickets, please go to: http://catco.org/catco-is-kids/2013-2014/tom-sawyer .
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Generation Photography