It was a case of too much of a good thing at the Back Alley Theatre in Van Nuys when the opening of a bright and bouncy children's show called "Pancakes" ran overtime. Still, with some judicious adjustments, this tasty music-and-puppet recipe can be a rare treat for preschoolers.
Recording artist Lois Young and her musician partner/producer Captain Flapjack (David Pinto) have cooked up something much more than a song concert.
The ingredients include such tuneful songs by Young as "Run to the Barn," "Tickle Me" and "Runny Nose," some funny, cuddly puppets and an endearingly goggly-eyed, talking contraption called "Tune Buggy" that lights up, runs on pancakes and syrup and unobtrusively houses Pinto's synthesizers.
Almost nonstop audience participation makes this a full serving of fun for the toddler-to-age-7 set.
Young, a slender young woman with a high, sweet voice, keeps the sugar content at an acceptable level. She gives children recognizable experiences: Bedtime when you're not sleepy, the inconvenience of a runny nose, walking in the rain and getting mad at Mom.
Pinto is a low-key complement, serving as Tune Buggy pilot, keyboard artist and sound effects man. (Saturday's cues were slightly off; Tune Buggy, who speaks in the irresistible tones of a 4-year-old, mistimed his lines a few times.)
Young's puppets are kid-pleasers, including Edgar, a green elephant whose pants fall down when he sneezes (don't everybody's?); Lambie, a sleepy lamb; a soft, ticklish bear named Brian; and a shy blue bird that Young takes into the audience to give children a gentle nibble. "The bird likes me!" exclaimed one proud 4-year-old at Saturday's show.
Young says she and Pinto are trimming the show by 15 to 20 minutes. A running time of 45 minutes would be just right.
A good place to start trimming is Young's end-of-show announcement that her cassettes are available for sale. That doesn't fit a theater format and it's a mood-breaker. The tapes are in plain view on a table; that's enough.
At 15231 Burbank Blvd. in Van Nuys through Dec. 31, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 1 and 3 p.m.; except Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. $6.50; (818) 780-2240.