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Theater Review

Humor Saves the Day in 'Barnyard Madness'

July 13, 2001|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A handsome wolf enlists the aid of his shy but eloquent cousin in order to sweep a lady pig off her hooves in "Barnyard Madness With the Three Little Pigs," a down-home, cornfed, "Cyrano de Bergerac"-meets-"The Three Little Pigs" musical romp for children at the Santa Monica Playhouse.

The resemblance to Rostand's romantic classic is limited, however: Would-be suitor Lou P. Wolfman soon decides that his interest in Roxy McPig is more gastronomic than romantic. With Roxy's sisters Ruby Dee and Ricky Jo in danger of winding up on the menu too, it's up to shy Clarence to save the day and confess his own love for the pretty porker.

Written by Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, this pun-filled, country-style show contains some winning humor, although it's less successful as a musical. Most of the songs, including one that inexplicably departs from the plot to warn of the dangers of smoking, aren't notably tuneful.

The plot begins with the McPig sisters left alone to run their family restaurant alone, ever since "Mom got smoked last fall." Money is a concern, but Ricky Jo (Jennifer J. Sundell) and Ruby Dee (Celeste Akiki) have managed to build their new houses of sticks and straw. They're not worried about wolves, especially not meek Clarence (Graham Silbert), their accountant.

They don't bargain on younger sister Roxy (Angela Marie Perales) falling for Lou P. (Andrew M. Gaines), a new wolf in town, and neither does closet romantic Clarence, although he selflessly furthers Lou P.'s cause to make Roxy happy.

Before Roxy and her sisters see the light--"it's what's inside that counts," etc.--Ricky Jo and Ruby Dee have been trussed up for dinner, Clarence has found his courage, unmemorable songs have been sung, and loud and frenetic chases have taken place up the aisles and onstage.

Happily, there's enough humor to carry the show over the rough spots. Ashley Hayes' colorful costumes add comic dash.

Well-spoken Perales is a winning pig fatale, who readies herself for her date by curling not just her abundant locks, but her pink piggy tail as well. Sundell's performance, punctuated with hearty porcine grunts, is comically well-timed.

Silbert does a nicely shaded job as Clarence, and Gaines has an appealing spark as roguish Lou P. (Cheryl Jennings, who directs, and John Waroff perform as Roxy and Clarence at some performances.)

*

* "Barnyard Madness With the Three Little Pigs," Santa Monica Playhouse, the Other Space, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica, Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 and 3 p.m. Ends Sept. 30. $9. (310) 394-9779, Ext. 2. Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.

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