By: Mar. 09, 2020


Kooky musical numbers, shiny spandex, a smooshed peach, trail mix puppets, a tap dancing tape dispenser -- it's all here in the loony adventure that is The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The show, a musical world premiere co-commissioned by First Stage and Oregon Children's Theatre, is based on the book of the same name by author Drew Daywalt. Each bookly battle is recreated on stage, dialed up to 11 on the scale of theatricality.

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors is geared at kiddos aged 4-10. On Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to see the show with a pair of kids smack-dab in the target demographic. They were psyched from the get-go as each one (Elsie, age 4, and Alex, age 7) had heard the story of Rock, Paper, Scissors at school. Elsie went into the show with her favorite already decided: scissors.

As anyone who's played the schoolyard game might guess, the story is one of a battle royale. A three-way duel to demise -- or so it seems. In Daywalt's story, Rock hails from the Kingdom of Backyard, Paper from the Empire of Mom's Home Office, and Scissors from the Kitchen Realm in the tiny village of Junk Drawer. Each one is the fiercest warrior in their respective land, but the three feel unfulfilled despite their glory. All they want is to meet their match.

And so they set out on lonesome journeys to find worthy opponents. Rock battles a peach ("fuzzy little butt") and a clothespin brandishing The Giant's Underwear. Paper takes down the office printer and a tribe of half-eaten trail mix. Scissors goes up against a roll of tape and a gang of frozen dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

In the stage production, under the direction of Kelly Doherty, each of these heroes and opponents is given even more larger-than-life personality than in the pages of Daywalt's picture book, and it's fantastically fun for kids and adults alike. In the Trail Mix Cast, young performer Max Larson nails the role of Announcer, full of star power and contagious energy. I remember Larson's unforgettable Bruce Bogtrotter from last season's Matilda. It's awesome to see such undeniable talent evolve year after year. So stick with it, Larson -- this reviewer thinks you're one to watch!

As for the titular three, Rock isn't just any old Rock. He's a heavy metal-style rockstar, played to hilarious effect by the ever-funny Rick Pendzich. His interactions with the Announcer are particularly laugh-aloud for the adults as he gets called out for "rocksplaining" showing-vs-telling and unleashes some well-timed dad jokes. Pendzich has a knack for humor, his delivery elevating the role of a purple spandex-clad, bulbous rock-creature, to be sure. His first battle is with Peach, played by youth cast member Daisha Lafford of the Trail Mix Cast. Lafford lends ample spunk and sass to this fuzzy fruit, challenging Rock to a country line dance-off.

First Stage alum Karen Estrada is the glorious Scissors. On stage, her character is a mambo-stepping latina queen, to which Estrada easily brings the requisite panache. Called out as not just any old scissors, but a fabric scissors, the character is a bit soapily melodramatic and mighty delightful and determined. One of Estrada's best bits is a tap dance battle against "Roll of Tape in Plastic Dispenser" whose accent and attire just happen to be Scotch (get it?). The off-brand Tape is played by Sydney Kirkegaard whose dynamic with Estrada is a laugh riot. Kirkegaard's comedic instincts are sharp as can be, a muscle she also gets to flex playing a disco-dancing Clothespin and cartoonish Printer.

Rounding out the adult cast is Lamar Jefferson as Paper. Smooth and studly, Paper boasts a three-hole punch cape, wide-ruled stripes, bell bottoms, and platform kicks -- a costume suited to enhancing his swagger. Jefferson's part in the story straddles intermission, giving him the honor of delivering a charming sudden request to pause the show in favor of a snack break. Get this man a cookie and a juice box in the lobby! Jefferson's performance is a treat.

Paper's nearly-worthy opponent is a Bag of Half-Eaten Trail Mix, a character that is at once singular and many. The character of Trail Mix is the first chance for the youth cast to really shine beyond the ensemble. In their bluesy musical number, four young performers each work two hand puppets that include Muppet-y cashews, M&Ms, and a smattering of dried fruit. The character the kids bring to the puppets is impressive. Later, other ensemble members step into the roles of Dino-Shaped Chicken Nuggets. It's all absurd in the best way.

In the end, would it be successful children's theater if it were all fun and games and no moral? You can find one here -- one of bravery, friendship, and rising to challenges. But really, take the little ones to see this show for the laughs, the silliness, and the kind of theater for which we only have the kids to thank. Without their willingness for turning the ordinary into something wildly imaginative, plays like The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors would likely remain just picture books.

Photo credit: Paul Ruffolo


Two Second Stage Shows To Open 2023-24 Marquette Theatre Season This Month Photo
Two Second Stage Shows To Open 2023-24 Marquette Theatre Season This Month

Marquette Theatre will open its 2023-24 season with two Second Stage Series productions, “A Piece of My Heart” and “The Servant of Two Masters,” from Friday, Sept. 29, to Sunday, Oct. 8.

Renaissance Theaterworks Has Some Magic Up Their Sleeves With WITCH Photo
Renaissance Theaterworks Has Some Magic Up Their Sleeves With WITCH

Renaissance Theaterworks (RTW) opens their 31st season with the bitingly dark comedy, WITCH by Jen Silverman, October 22nd - November 12th with preview performances on October 20th and 21st, at the Theater on 255 S Water Street in Milwaukee's Harbor District.

Managing Director Elissa Wolf Departs Door Shakespeare Photo
Managing Director Elissa Wolf Departs Door Shakespeare

Door Shakespeare Announces Staff Change - Door Shakespeare has announced a staff change. Find out more about the latest updates from Door Shakespeare.

Milwaukees First Stage To Host 14th Annual Wine Tasting & Dinner In November Photo
Milwaukee's First Stage To Host 14th Annual Wine Tasting & Dinner In November

First Stage will host its popular Annual Wine Tasting & Dinner event on Saturday, November 4, 2023 from 5:30 - 10:00 p.m.

From This Author - Kelsey Lawler

  Kelsey Lawler is a copywriter by day and zealot for local theater by night. She earned her BA in Writing Intensive English from Marquette University in 2009, and has been working as an editor, ... Kelsey Lawler">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Denver, Diamond & Dylan
Sunset Playhouse (10/23-10/24)
#repshow# in[i]# From Brooklyn to Bandstand: The Music of Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow
Sunset Playhouse (12/31-12/31)
#repshow# in[i]# Mamma Mia!
Uihlein Hall at Marcus Center For The Performing Arts (2/20-2/25)
#repshow# in[i]# David Seebach's Illusions in the Night
Sunset Playhouse (10/20-10/22)
#repshow# in[i]# THE SOUND OF HER MUSIC: Julie Andrews Tribute
Sunset Playhouse (10/12-10/15)
#repshow# in[i]# Fairy Godmother's (song) Book of Wisdom
Sunset Playhouse (11/04-11/04)
#repshow# in[i]# The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Lake Country Playhouse (9/15-10/01)
#repshow# in[i]# Blithe Spirit
Sunset Playhouse (10/19-11/05)
#repshow# in[i]# Dean Martin's Cool Yule
Sunset Playhouse (12/07-12/10)
#repshow# in[i]# Seussical, Kids
Sunset Playhouse (11/18-11/19)

Recommended For You