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THEATER REVIEW

This time around, pigs are at the door

A sensitive wolf is the endangered creature in Imagination Station's revival of its spoofy 'Three Little Pigs.'

August 04, 2004|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Imagination Station, a comically inventive, shoestring children's theater company founded by local actors and storytellers, hasn't presented a season of shows for years; most of its original members have gone on to other pursuits. But one, Jake Eberle, is trying to kick the company into high gear again with a revival of its 1998 spoof "Three Little Pigs" at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica.

The result, however, doesn't live up to Imagination Station's creative strengths. Directed by Wendy Haynes, who also performs, the production simply tries too hard, and the result is rushed and painfully shrill.

That's disappointing too, because this clever show, written by Eberle and other company co-founders Jon Reed, Jennifer Brandt and Shari Getz, is worth doing, even if it still needs a little judicious pruning.

Told from B.B. Wolf's point of view (that's Billy Bob, not Big Bad), it's a pun- and joke-filled tale about greedy pigs in the land development business, out to raze the forest and put up a "One Stop Slop Shop and Mud Spa."

Sensitive, violence-abhorring Wolf (Jesse Mackey) must resort to trickery in order to stop the pigs after he fails in an appeal to his congressman, Quack E. Duck (a voice-over). For one thing, he has trouble negotiating the Automated Animal Hotline: "If you have feathers, press 1; if you have an exoskeleton, press 2; if you have opposable thumbs ... "

This and other witty touches are geared toward adults and older kids; having the audience do the huffing and puffing to blow down the slop shop is the big hit with the younger crowd.

The show's often hectic pace and intermittently shrieking volume, however, seem to be an effort to hold the attention of those toddlers and preschoolers who tend to make up the bulk of the company's audience. Only Mackey avoids these pitfalls. Haynes and the other adult pros in the cast -- Tharem Singh and Alan Heitz -- should know better.

*

'Three Little Pigs'

Where: Miles Memorial Playhouse, Reed Park, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica

When: 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Ends: Sunday

Price: Adults, $10; ages 5-12, $8; ages 4 and younger, free

Contact: (310) 289-2133

Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

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