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Review: CORDUROY at Imagination Stage

Running through January 23rd 2022

Review: CORDUROY at Imagination Stage
Lisa (Ariana Caldwell) is reunited with her
beloved bear in Corduroy at Imagination Stage.
Photo: Margot Schulman

There is nothing quite like taking a child to see live theatre for the first time. Corduroy at Imagination Stage is an absolutely delightful production that is perfect for young audiences, whether it's their first visit to the theatre, or their fiftieth.

Review: CORDUROY at Imagination Stage
Corduroy (Alex Vernon) discovers some of the other
toys in the department store in Corduroy at Imagination
Stage through January 23. Photo: Margot Schulman.

Corduroy is a lonely, stuffed teddy bear sitting on the shelf at the department store. Lisa, a shy girl who needs a friend, discovers him and instantly falls in love. But the only way she can bring him home is to earn the money she needs to buy him. Her mother agrees to give her an advance on her allowance, if Lisa agrees to do extra chores at home. Back at their tiny apartment, she tries her hardest to help her mother and do a good job on her chores, but somehow things always go wrong.

Meanwhile, back at the closed department store, Corduroy has a problem. He's missing a button on his overalls, and he needs to find it so he'll be worthy of going to a real home. He looks high and low, in every corner of the store. Every time he finds it, the button somehow slips away, usually accompanied by a loud crash that signals the mayhem going on in the store. And each crash brings the Night Watchman, who is convinced there's a criminal loose in the department store. All of that mayhem leads to a slew of zany situations. (Oh, and there's a vacuum cleaner running amok in the store, just to make things extra fun and interesting.)

Everybody needs a friend, and finding out if Lisa and Corduroy will become forever friends is theatrical magic.

Review: CORDUROY at Imagination Stage
Corduroy (Alex Vernon) and the Night Watchman
(Matthew Pauli) are on a madcap hunt in
Corduroy. Photo: Margot Schulman.

Corduroy is based on the Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy books by Don Freeman, and is directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer. She has assembled a remarkably tight and talented cast. Ariana Caldwell and Jasmine Brooks have incredible chemistry as Lisa and her mother. The way they interact will resonate with parents and kids alike, and Caldwell's Lisa is spot on. Brooks' put upon mother moves from frustrated and exhausted to sweet and caring seamlessly. Alex Vernon's Corduroy is gentle and endearing, and Matthew Pauli has a wonderful turn as the beleaguered Night Watchman. Pauli is a graduate of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College, and Vernon is a member of Happenstance Theatre. Their romp through the store was inspired by the silent movie antics of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, with Mark Jaster, Happenstance's Artistic Director serving as a movement consultant. Watching Vernon and Pauli is like watching a Keystone Kops movie come to life. (The packing crate sequence near the end of the show is worth the price of admission alone.)

Bryer has crafted a fast-paced and funny production, and the cast handles situational humor and a lot of slapstick comedy with incredible skill, before bringing the show to a touching and poignant conclusion. (Bring a tissue - you're sure to be a little misty when we find out if Lisa gets to take Corduroy home.)

Corduroy is a wonderful gift to give the little people in your life - don't miss this delightful and moving adaptation of a favorite children's book. (Note: Director Bryer recommends that parents read the Corduroy books with their children before coming to see the show. "The essential, beautiful story of Lisa, her mother and the winsome, button-missing teddy bear moves from the page to the stage, but there is so much else - including mischief and laughter - that they will experience in our production.")

Running time is about 1 hour with no intermission.

Corduroy is playing at Imagination Stage through January 23, 2022. For future events at Imagination Stage, click here.

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