BWW Review: LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO at Actors Theatre Of Louisville
LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO
by Anne Washburn
Music by Dave Malloy
Directed by Les Waters
Review by Taylor Clemons
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Taylor Clemons. All rights reserved
Everyone knows the classic song and story of Little Bunny Foo Foo. He hops through the forest scooping up field mice and bopping them on the head. In this new adaption by Anne Washburn, the classic tale comes magically to life on the stage of the Bingham Theatre. The show, I would consider a play with music, has wonderful tunes from Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 Tony Nominee Dave Malloy.
In this new adaption, we first meet Bunny Foo Foo (Sam Breslin Wright) and Skink (Eliza Bent). Bunny Foo Foo has a sort of addiction to bopping the little unsuspecting field mice (played by an adorable ensemble of local children) on the head. As he continues this practice, the Skink reminds Bunny Foo Foo that the Blue Fairy (April Matthis), who is the guardian of the forest, gave him three chances to change his bopping ways or she will turn him into a goon. Bunny Foo Foo doesn't take the threats seriously, and the Blue Fairy delivers on her promise. It's now up to Bunny Foo Foo to make a mends so he can return to his former self.
Performances were outstanding all around. Wright brings an incredible charisma to Bunny Foo Foo, playing him almost as a mix of Bugs Bunny and Steve Carell (in a zany role). He's got great comedic timing throughout the show, but towards the end gives complete emotional dept to a character that could easily be a one note caricature. Matthis' Blue Fairly is the picture of sophisticated grace, occasionally letting her guard down when she is alone. She gets a wonderful song about halfway through that showcases not only her vocal range, but her acting and comedic chops as well. Eliza Bent as the Skink has little to do, but nevertheless is a valuable addition to the show. She's got a very nice voice, and occasionally sneaks on to expertly play the xylophone. The kid ensemble of field mice are adorable and very fun to watch. They are given plenty of great moments to shine. In addition the onstage band known as the Gentleman Toads are phenomenal.
The script is fun and easy to follow for children, but has enough depth to entertain older patrons as well. The music by Malloy is in my opinion, the best part of the evening. He is known for the combining of differing genres to make a unique sound, and this as his latest endeavor is no exception. He combines blues, jazz, folk, and even glimpses of classic Broadway sound to create a vast and eclectic sound. Les Waters' direction has been hit and miss with me in the past, but I firmly believe this is one of his hit's. The staging is fun and inventive, and he manages to use the space to create some wonderful visuals.
The costumes by Paloma Young are downright delightful. This easily could've been cheesy design, but she uses a fantastic stylized approach to forest animals that is inventive and pleasing to the eye. The set by Laura Jellinek is simple but very effective, and gives the actors a playground to use.
As a pleased audience member, I ask you to throw any preconceptions about what this show is out the window. This top notch team at Actors Theatre has put together a show that is honestly one of the most fun experiences I've had seeing a show, ever. The performances are out of the world and the music is something you need to hear, that you never knew you needed to hear. The show is short and to the point. While perfect for children and families, this show invites everyone to tap into their inner child and have unapologetic and unadulterated enjoyment, while renforcing some wonderful morals and lessons along the way.
*It's worth noting that on February 4th the show will be putting on a special sensory friendly performance featuring a relaxed atmosphere with lower volume sounds, slightly raised houselights, and the flexibility to move in and around the theater.
LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO Now - February 4, 2018
Actors Theatre of Louisville
316 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Tickets: (502) 584-1205