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Review: THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES at Adventure Theatre

Review: THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES at Adventure Theatre
Tyasia Velines in the Adventure Theatre production of
The Snowy Day and Other Stories.
Photo by Bruce Douglass.

A recent article in The New York Times declared that Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day and Other Stories is the most widely borrowed book in the Big Apple's public library collection. It's popular not only for the way it evokes the wonder and innocence of childhood but for breaking the color barrier in children's literature.

Keats built his stories around an African-American boy whose experiences are universal rather than stereotypical.

The New York-born author's work has received even more exposure through dramatization. Now joining the ranks of the venues presenting the theatrical version of The Snowy Day and Other Stories is Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, in a sweet and funny production.

On addition to The Snowy Day, the Keats stories included are Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, and A Letter to Amy. As in the original book, the stories focus on the gentle main character, Peter; his close friend, Archie; his crush - through part of the show - Amy; and Willie the dog.

But this production isn't all about literature coming off the page. It's enhanced by animated images, created through a graphic program called Isadora by projection designer Dylan Uremovich. Before the play even begins, the audience is treated to a projection of a lovely snowfall in which, as in life, every snow flake is unique.

Tyasia Velines has all the gentleness Peter requires, but director Victoria Murray Baatin also brings out his high energy and curiosity. Baatiin has pulled together all the elements in the show - including grown-ups playing children and a mechanical dog who scampers about, making forays into the audience as steered by puppeteer RJ Pavel.

What is even more impressive is how Velines, even within the brief 45 minutes of the production (with no intermission), conveys both Peter's youthfulness but also the way in which he believably transitions from a young child to an older one. Peter develops an interest in girls and whistling and overcomes a fear toward older kids - created via projection - who try to re-capture goggles Peter and Archie had found.

Keeping up the high energy level are Shayla Lowe and Morgan Nicholas Scott are Female Player 1 and Male Player 1, respectively. Simone Brown is the Female Player Understudy.

The audience is drawn into the action through a snowball fight, dancing at the party, and Willie's wanderings.

Set designer April Joy Bastian has created a set that's basic but multipurpose.

The work of costume designer Paris Francesca includes Peter's red snow suit and Amy's seductive (can one say) outfit to Peter's birthday party.

All in all, you're likely to leave the theater with a smile,

Running Time: 45 minutes with no intermission

Adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston and produced with special arrangement with Plays for Young Audiences, The Snowy Day and Other Stories is recommended for all ages.

The production continues through April 5 2020 at Adventure Theatre which is located at 7300 MacArthur Blvd. Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, click here.

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