The people of Hamelin town smell a rat and they're pretty steamed about it. Little Broadway Productions takes a musical look at Hamelin's rat problem in "The Pied Piper" at L. A. Valley College.
In this version, written by Nancy Seale, with music by Ed Archer, the little lame boy Ludie is an orphan outcast who suffers from low self-esteem. Perhaps if he can rid the town of the rats, he'll be accepted, he thinks.
In the happy ending, a departure from the original tale, Ludie "helps" the magical Pied Piper do just that, getting his wish.
Directed by Marilyn Weitz, it is a promising production--good-looking, full of humor and bouncy musical numbers. Maro' C. Hakopian designed the charming, fairy-tale costumes, and Danielle Brown's choreography is winsome.
But the show suffers from repetitive exposition. Although it's a tighter hour now than during its spring run, there is still some trimming to be done in order to quell the periodic feet-shuffling in the audience.
Jerry W. Abbitt's Hamelin village set is satisfying enough to elicit pleased, anticipatory exclamations from young patrons who enter the theater.
"I think I'm going to like this play," said one 5-year-old at Thursday's performance.
Although adult actor Glenn Goveia's Ludie is a bit bloodless and Allen Gregory as the Pied Piper isn't as forceful as he should be, most of the cast members are a hoot.
Lia Sargent adds welcome feistiness as Ludie's friend. Pretty Chrys Caraway's Freda makes a nice foil for David Kozen's comically small-hearted Farmer Brugger, and Michael Walters has some well-timed silly business as the mayor's spoiled stepson.
Henry A. Crowell Jr., Jan Fischer and Marty Sokup are standouts. Crowell plays the mayor's stooge Herr Meinersing as a wide-eyed clown. Fischer shines as the mayor's haughty wife Gertrud.
They both bounce delightfully off Sokup (sometimes literally). Rotund and bearded, Sokup is just right as the gourmand Mayor who thinks of nothing but strudel and hassenpfeffer.
Trimmed to 45 minutes, this "Pied Piper" could be a little gem.
Performances continue at 5800 Fulton Ave. in Van Nuys through Friday, Tuesday-Thursday at 10 a.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets: $5.50; (818) 509-0963.