T * "Tom Sawyer," Irvine Valley College Theatrefaire. Resplendent in rumpled linen and puffing a fat see-gar , Donald Formaheck's Mark Twain was the ideal traveling companion for this beautifully staged journey through the old South, the latest in Theatrefaire's string of consistently high-quality family shows.
* "Revenge of the Space Pandas," South Coast Repertory's Young Conservatory Players. Tie-dyed pandas and sight gags for the kids, a hint of David Mamet's acid humor for the grown-ups, no lessons, no morals, just lots of silliness, played up by Rhonda Winger Earick's comic-book costumes.
* "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," the Orange County Children's Theatre. Best suited to the sandbox set, "Pied Piper" featured a baker's dozen of the cutest rodents ever to raid a larder. Teen-ager Luis Eayes as the brooding piper offered a peek at the story's darker side in this outdoor staging.
* "Cinderella," the Buena Park Children's Musical Theatre. Black light, a "real" pumpkin coach and an ambitious ballroom scene (ever try to get a pre-adolescent boy to waltz?) added the fairy-tale touches to this outdoor show, further enhanced by the strong vocal work of Christine Perrault as Cinderella. Now, if they could just do something about those body mikes . . .
* "Winnie-the-Pooh," Broadway on Tour. Clothes may not make the man, but in children's theater, there's something to be said for the right trappings. At its new address, Placentia's Vineyard Church, this young company has brought its production values and performance skills a giant step forward. As Eeyore, Dennis Anderson's shuffling soft-shoe stole the show.