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Lively take on a 'slow, steady' tale

November 07, 2002|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Tina (the tortoise) Shellback to her dad, who's less than thrilled that she has agreed to race Harry (the hare) Fastfeet: "You told me that slow and steady wins the race." Mr. Shellback: "In life, yes. Against a hare, no."

The Shellback family motto, "Be nice at any price," is sorely tested against the Fastfeet creed -- "Don't Just Win. Dominate" -- in "Tortoise vs. Hare ... This Time It's Personal," a lively romp at Burbank's Falcon Theatre.

The bespectacled, very nice, very slow Tina (Sarina Ranftl) just wants to be pals with Harry (Omar D. Brancato), but, egged on by his martially minded mom, Sergeant Fastfeet (Roberta Wall), Harry taunts Tina until she accepts his challenge to race.

Played out in the theater aisles and through the rows of seats, the race has its usual result, after plodding Tina prepares with some serious physical training and loud encouragement from the audience, while overconfident Harry stuffs himself and has to sleep it off. In the end, Harry and Tina find they have more in common than they thought, and their parents learn a lesson in friendship too.

Playwright Thorin Alexander, director Scott Marshall and the cast, including Jennifer Jean Snyder as a combination good fairy-emcee-sports announcer, infuse the familiar tale with feel-good, comic bounce. Costume designer Rachel Myers adds to the fun, especially with the tortoises' wittily nerdy attire, and Andrea Housh's leafy, dappled lighting adds depth to set designer Rob Zylowski's visuals.


`Tortoise vs. Hare ... This Time It's Personal'

Where: Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank

When: Saturdays, 1 and 3 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m. through Nov. 23; then Saturdays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m.

Ends: Dec. 1

Price: $10

Info: (818) 955-8101

Running Time: 50 minutes

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