BWW Reviews: LITTLE RED AND THE HOODS at Silly On Sixth - Hudson Theater Ensemble

Silly on Sixth's "Little Red and the Hoods" is an anomaly in children's theater: engaging, entertaining, and fun. A lively troop of adults in an acting company gets lost, mistaking Hoboken for Ho-ho-kus, some members go missing. With limited props and assistance from the willing audience for sound effects, cheerleaders, and mini-villains, an updated tale of Little Red Riding Hood comes to life.

Karen Boettcher-Tate's version "Little Red and the Hoods" in director Ron Mulligan's capable cast's hands feels largely improvised. This must be because of the clear comfort and enjoyment the cast led by narrarator/volunteer-wrangler Wendy Weber Eaton brings to the fore along with her four compatriots. Mulligan keeps the action spritely and clearly has a strong eye for casting.

Pre-show Ms. Eaton chats with the families, holding a map. Quickly, her troop enters carrying a box of props and costumes and a fairy tale book. A spritely debate ensues as to where to go and what show to perform. Gregory Nye embodies a vain glorious Shakespearean ham who needs to be convinced to play the wolf. He gently eats the scenery with relish to the audience's delight.

Little Red (Nicole D'Onofrio) and her mom/grandma (Florence Pape) make excellent cookies. Ma Sugar Lump (Laura DiCerto) conspires with the Wolf to capture the recipe and corner the market in cookies in fairyland. Red and Ma work out a code word to protect against strangers during the journey through the forest. Ma cautions Red against strangers and straying from the path. Red self-assuredly, self-confidently shakes off all warnings and heads into the forest. The Wolf challenges her to a race and beats Red to grandma's house, where he ensnares her in a box and assumes her place in bed. Super Grandma saves the day and she, Red, and the cast teach the Wolf to read and cook - in a happy ending. The gentle adjustments to the classic story provide welcome turns and opportunities for morals without the audience feeling lectured or admonished.

Most children's theater is filled with young adults acting as kids with high-pitched whiny voices and cloying; annoying recorded musical accompaniment to "I want" oriented songs. Silly on Sixth gracefully, gratefully avoids all of this. The cast is polished, charming, and enthusiastic. Adults and children up to 9 will be captivated and clamor to get up on stage as a hood, flower picker, or cheerleader. There's a moral and a song to finish the day along with the cast gamely greeting parents and child post-show.

Get yourself and your loved ones to Hoboken and help celebrate Silly on Sixth's tenth year of children's theater that fully entertains and entrances.

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