Finding "Tales From Around the World," a free theater event for young children, is part of the adventure.
Only a few small, hand-lettered signs along a narrow, bumpy, winding road point the way to the Heavenly Pond Area of Franklin Canyon, where the show takes place. In a small clearing near the pond, a venerable oak becomes prop-holder and canopy for the carpet stage, occasionally scattering stray acorns over the audience seated on mats and benches.
Actors Michael Gough, Cheryl Francis Harrington and Stephanie Miller, under the direction of Merritt Olson, tell tales, exchange patter with the audience and improvise audience suggestions. Large doses of humor and youthful enthusiasm mitigate their rough-around-the-edges style.
Stories from Germany, China, Japan and Russia share the bill with Aesop's Fables. A mandarin names his cat, a farmer outwits a mischievous spirit and so does a rice farmer's wife.