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WITH THE KIDS | THEATER REVIEW

`Ohmies!' turns tots into wannabe yogis

Good-for-you messages and a perky cast inspire little audience members.

July 12, 2007|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

PENNY BUTTERFLY is trying to get to Sweeping Bluff in time to surprise the rising Sun, but she has an attack of the Worries along the way and frets that she won't make it in time.

To the rescue: yoga. As in stretch, breathe, focus.

It seems that even butterflies need a calming "down dog" or "snake" pose now and then.

"Cute" is the operative word for "The Ohmies!," a musical theater-and-yoga parfait for the very young set (kids up to age 6 or 7). Luckily for companion adults, the show's wide-eyed perkiness and good-for-you messages are smartly balanced with crisp theatricality and a polished -- and flexible -- adult cast, directed by Wade Gasque.

This sweet-spirited mini-musical was written by yoga instructor Laurie Miller, who plays sidekick butterfly Poogle; Ben Tollefson, who is Snake as well as the voices of other characters; and Mike "donk" Weiss, who doubles as the wise Grasshopper.

Rounding out the cast are big-voiced Shana Gregory Williams as Down Dawg, a spotted canine with an urban beat; and Tara Hunnewell as Penny. An accomplished performer, Hunnewell effortlessly beguiles the young audience into giving her yoga poses a try.

The careful blend includes Ryan Heffington's deft choreography, the pop chops of the onstage musicians (Chris Roy and Ben Thomas) and whimsical costumes and set pieces (Tollefson is credited as art director). Light designer Nick McCord adds to the visual interest with color, light and shadow.

Judging from the finale at a recent performance, the combination is catnip to its target audience: Tiny volunteers, apparently eager to explore their inner yogi, stormed the stage.

lynne.heffley@latimes.com

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`The Ohmies!'

Where: Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank

When: 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 5

Price: $10; $12 for adults and ages 13 and up

Info: (818) 955-8101

Running time: 50 minutes

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