Kid’s Theater Review: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

The only thing bigger than the slightly mind altering, larger-than-life set were the laughs of the children in the crowd.

The Arden Theatre’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie soars beyond Laura Numeroff’s book of the same name.  The kid on the page serves as a sort of prop to facilitate the mouse’s actions.  On stage, the youngster’s personality and sense of humor become vital factors in the audience appreciating his plight to maintain order in his home.  He’s so obviously flummoxed and really, how can you blame him?  To be cutesy, or merely a bystander, throughout his messy ordeal would defy logic.  It would also destroy the comedic angst inherent in Jody Davidson’s wonderful adaptation.

For the uninitiated, the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie story in book form centers around a boy and a mouse who’s request for a cookie leads to a number of additional follow up demands before eventually coming back to the need for another cookie.  Davidson’s rewrite retains that arc while turning If You Give a Mouse a Cookie into an outstanding physical comedy about a exasperated boy whose mother has gone to visit an Aunt and a Cat-in-the-Hat-esque mouse who “doesn’t want to be a bother” but ends up reeking havoc.  You don’t need to be a fan of, or even familiar with, the book to enjoy this production.

Photo by Mark Garvin

The dynamic between the two characters is not unlike that of two brothers; the younger being a nudge, the older easily frustrated yet neither willing to admit that, deep down, they never want the relationship to end.  Because of this, most sibling pairs will see a lot of themselves on stage (sans whiskers of course) and will likely love The Arden’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as a result.

Of course it’s constructed for the kiddos, but don’t be fooled by the “children’s theater” label.  What you’ll see on stage is whole-family entertainment.  The Mrs. and I both laughed, alongside hundreds of school children, for the entire 1 hour and 10 minute performance.  My girls, who saw the show a week earlier with other family members, were said to have been hysterical (especially the 3-year old I call The Mouse) during the play and again afterward when discussing their favorite moments.

Photo by Mark Garvin

*A couple fun tidbits for parents and older kids to keep an ear out for during the show:

  • a quick Amelia Bedelia moment of taking things hyper literally when the Mouse attempts to mime the phrase “catch my breath” while acting out his supposed naptme story.
  • the Rocky Balboa-ish voice used to portray the fictional comic book character “Jungle Man”.

As they do with admirable regularity, the Arden has delivered a most pleasing family theatrical experience perfect for children of almost any age.  While not as grand as their Peter Pan and with less emotional connectivity than A Year with Frog and Toad, both of which got Haas (big) stage treatment,  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is another smash success for the finest theater for kids in the Delaware Valley.

Finally, should a mouse ever emerge from your kitchen cabinets, best make his cookie order to go!

The Arden Theatre’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie has been extended twice already, and now runs through June 27th.  Click here for tickets and more information on this production and on The Arden’s many drama classes for children.

If you’re still on the fence, this video courtesy of the Arden should wet your appetite and provide enough of a visual glimpse into the play to force your hand into buying tickets for your family (tip for maximum enjoyment: mute the sound before pushing play – the music, which has zero to do with the production, is very unnecessary and irritating).

*OWTK received a pair of complimentary tickets to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true – no arm twisting took place in the review process.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial