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A Hare-Raising Performance

AnnaLisa Erickson plays dual roles in 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit.'

March 06, 1997|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Talk about a split personality: AnnaLisa Erickson steals the show in her dual roles as loving Mother Rabbit and uncouth, rip-snortin' Mrs. McGregor in Serendipity Theatre Co.'s latest children's musical, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," at the Burbank Little Theatre.

Erickson's comic energy and big, tuneful vocals are needed in this very modest, no-frills adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic, giving a spark to the show and its mostly child cast.

In Denys Gawronski's adaptation, directed and choreographed by Ken Realista and as performed by handsome teenager Jeremy Ronceros, Peter has more adolescent angst than naughty little bunny attributes. He's a big kid chafing against his mother's safety concerns and bugged by his younger siblings Flopsy (Keesha Hernandez, who doubled as the McGregor's cat), Mopsy (Emily Duncan) and Cotton-tail (Brenna Cheyney).

Once in the forbidden garden (a shift of the simple, painted set), Peter makes two new friends: disreputable-looking Mouse (the other adult cast member, tony sanders with notched ears and baggy pants) and Sparrow (youth actor Emma Bedard), who looks markedly crow-like in orange bird feet and hooded black blouse over gray tights. Bedard, however, executes her do-good role with enjoyable confidence. As the skittish, streetwise mouse, sanders has a few comic moments and he's a competent foil for Erickson in his second role as dim Mr. McGregor.

Gawronski's music is a mix of pleasant pop-style songs, including Mother Rabbit's lullaby ballads and, the highlight, the McGregors' gleefully anticipatory "critters, critters, critters, we'll turn 'em into fritters."

The finale, a rousing gospel-style ensemble number, is an incongruous fit, but is nicely done.

* Burbank Little Theatre, George Izay Park, 1110 W. Clark St., Burbank; Saturdays, 1 p.m., Sundays, 1 and 4 p.m. through March 23. $8 (ages 17 and under) to $14. (818) 557-0505.

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Radio Days: Hey, kids--is your school doing something cool? Is your Scout troop tops? If you're a young person, an educator or a parent with news about youth-oriented community events and entertainment, children's radio network Radio AAHS wants to hear from you at its Southern California station, KPLS-AM (830).

The station is inviting listener participation through its new Whadayathink Hotline: (800) 300-8830.

"We've been trying to find the best way to let kids have a voice and express opinions," said Rita Pardue, a child development expert and KPLS' news editor.

"We want to focus on human interest and on what kids are doing, and we'd like to give a pat on the back to young people doing really outstanding things."

Radio AAHS, the 24-hour kids' radio network, owned and operated by Minneapolis-based Children's Broadcasting Corp., is heard in seven of the nation's top 10 markets. The network offers a mix of music, news, stories and games for families and kids, and its affiliates also air original programming.

Through its hotline, KPLS is encouraging its listeners, ages 6 to 16 and their families, to serve as "roving reporters" and phone in news tips and opinions about what's happening in their schools and neighborhoods. The best stories will be put on the air. The hotline is being linked with the station's "West Coast AirForce"--programming featuring the station's 11 on-air kid deejays who cover weekly news beats.

Schools and groups from the station's broadcast area--Orange, Riverside and L.A. counties, including portions of the San Fernando Valley and parts of San Diego--are encouraged to use the hotline to contact KPLS for coverage of events. In addition, outstanding students will have a chance to become "honorary AirForce members" and record features for broadcast.

The hotline is already garnering programming suggestions. "One caller asked that our fashion reporter do fashion tips for boys as well as girls," Purdue said.

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More AAHS Action: Evan Roberts, Radio AAHS' 13-year-old syndicated talk-show host, has left his Long Island home studio for a Southland stop. KPLS will broadcast his call-in show live from the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills today from 5 to 6 p.m. Roberts' special guest is "The Nanny's" Benjamin Salisbury. For information about limited seats available, call the station at (714) 282-8300.

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