Review: WINNIE THE POOH at Downtown Cabaret Theatre

The production runs through February 11, 2024. 

By: Jan. 13, 2024
Review: WINNIE THE POOH at Downtown Cabaret Theatre

On Saturday, January 13th, at 12:00 PM, I had the pleasure of seeing another excellent performance at Downtown Cabaret Theatre, WINNIE THE POOH!  This musical is geared for young audiences, but this excellent production starring a talented adult cast contains the right kind of content to keep the entire family entertained!  This show is unique in that it is based on characters in a series of episodes, rather than an official defining movie.  There is furthermore the absence of an antagonist character.  This makes playwright Carly Jurman’s story and stage adaptation about these classic characters all the more impressive!  Carly Jurman also directs and choreographs this musical that also has musical direction from Aron Smith.  This also adds excitement to the story in that nothing is predictable, other than that there would be a Sheila in the audience who is among the children having a birthday. 

The story is set in Hundred Acre Woods, with some scenes in Christopher Robin’s bedroom.  There are some entrances from the back of the house, and the fourth wall gets broken for some questions that the children are excited to answer.  Most of the action takes place up on stage.  An excellent effect is done on stage to create the appearance of moving waves all across the stage floor.  It is very impressive how real this appears from the audience! 

Carly Jurman also appears on stage as Rabbit, providing an amusing performance of “My Heart Will Go On.”  She is joined by other talented performers, such as Karen Hanley who portrays Kanga and Roo, Emily Pisarra who performs Christopher Robin’s mother, Ryan Romero who performs Christopher Robin, Cory Murphy who performs Eeyore, and Jojo DeVellis who stars as Winnie the Pooh. 

Ashley DePascale provides yet another first-rate performance, in the role of a rather energetic Piglet who has many fears, including Bridgeport.  Even though Piglet is not the title character, Piglet comes across, in this production, as the central protagonist in the quest to fine Eeyore’s missing tail.

Andrea Pane steals the show as Owl, a highly comical character, seeming to be influenced by numerous cartoon owls, beyond Owl, but also owls such as Archimedes from The Sword in the Stone, and the owl from the Tootsie Pop commercial.  Andrea Pane manages to simultaneously pull the best from each owl in a way that works on every line he delivers, and in his singing of “A.B.C.”

The music is pulled from numerous genres and decades.  “Sunshine Day,” “Stuck in the Middle With You,” “True Colors,” and “I Can’t Help Myself,” are among the other songs in this production. 

My favorite scene involves Winnie the Pooh and Rabbit playing whack-a-mole in a way that looks very realistic.

Through the entertaining music, comedy, and story is a subtle yet spot-on social commentary.  Eeyore comically mentions that it is difficult to be happy while “global warming,” is happening.  One can glean a deeper message that those who choose to saturate themselves in whatever gloomy messages the mainstream media demands we obsess over will inevitably experience depression, outrage, and a defeatist hopeless victim mentality that will yield Eeyore’s grumpy and all around negative “the cup is half empty” disposition.  While this message may fly over the heads of children, it can help change the attitudes of adults, for the better, if taken to heart.

I highly recommend WINNIE THE POOH which is scheduled to continue to run through February 11, 2024.  For times and tickets, please go to the link below.