BWW Reviews: Lulu and The Brontosaurus Makes 'Dynomite' Debut
Fresh this month at Imagination Stage comes Lulu and the Brontosaurus, an adaptation of the children's book by Judith Viorst. The play, also written by Judith Viorst and directed by Janet Stanford, centers around a young girl, Lulu (Casie Platt) who is an unlikely heroine- a spunky little kid who is as lovable as she is a total pain.
Not long before her 10th birthday, Lulu demands that her parents get her a pet brontosaurus, but is met with a stern, if not hesitant, 'NO.' To her, this simply won't do, for she's made it clear to us from the very beginning: Whatever Lulu wants, Lulu gets. After the meltdown of the century, she decides that if her parents won't give her one, she'll just have to go out and get one herself. She ventures into the forest, boisterously voicing her mantra and disturbing the peace, causing her to have to contend with a snake (Vaughn Irving), a tigress (Tracy Stephens), and a bear (Doug Wilder). When she finally does find her brontosaurus, however, the tables are turned and the huge dinosaur (Vaughn Irving) decides that he would like to keep HER as a pet instead!
This play does extremely well in its ability to present a story to children. The set, designed by Milagros Ponce de Leon, is vibrant and very well designed; it's able to portray Lulu's house with two chairs and a chest, but then opens into an entire forest with sliding trees and a large branch that the brontosaurus interacts with. For this particular show, the audience also becomes a part of the action, as Lulu is often seen skipping through the aisles while singing her song. There are even parts of the show where the narrator (Lauren Du Pree) stops to address the kids directly, asking their opinions and engaging the audience with an enlightening list of alternative words for 'butt.' Between that and the healthy serving of whimsical musical numbers, the show was able to capture the wonder and attention of every child who watched.
It's not just the children who can appreciate this show, however, for there are moments that are also liable to give the adults a giggle. The first is when the parents sing their song, exasperated by Lulu's spoiled shenanigans, and readily admit that their darling daughter is a pain in their 'something other than necks.' There is also a clever amount of wordplay from the snake, tiger, and bear singing their woes about what Lulu has done to them. The narrator also expresses that Lulu's previous actions caused others' lives to be 'the opposite of heaven.'
This play is admirable in the way that we are able to see young Lulu grow from a spoiled brat to a more mild and thoughtful person. With the help of the lonely but gentlemanly brontosaurus, she learns a few lessons on her journey, like what it's like to not be the center of the world, how to acknowledge other people's feelings, compromise and make friends, and make full use of the magic 'P' word. By the end of the play, these lessons are spelled out again, and the audience is treated to a long song about how it's perfectly fine for Lulu and the brontosaurus to be friends, and how their differences don't matter in that aspect. This is the only part of the show that seemed to skew a little from the main story. For anyone who is a parent or who has worked around children, it's not hard to see how surprisingly intuitive they can be- they can often soak up the weight and meaning of a kid's story without the moral having to be laid out flat to them. In this tale about a girl who learns to shed her spoiled ways and makes friends instead of pets, it seems a little unnecessary to take a long time to explain why it's okay to be friends with anyone- a feat that children effortlessly accomplish on their own.
All in all, Lulu and the Brontosaurus was a delightful show to attend and a great way to kick off the 2013-2014 season.
Lulu and the Brontosaurus will run at Imagination Stage from September 25th - October 27th.