Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ritzy's House of Horrors

I consider myself a cultured woman. I've seen everything from Broadway to Cirque de Soleil. I've been to the ballet, to musicals, to Shakespeare in the Park, and to countless dance recitals. In this past week alone, I've seen The Nutcracker (twice) and Scrooged! But, good Lord in Heaven above, save me from local children's theater.

Years ago, I went on the preschool class field trip to see Frosty at, you guessed it, the local children's theater. About ten minutes into the "show", the little girl sitting next to me asked when it was going to start. You see, a bunch of adults wandering around the fully lit theater wearing sweats wasn't exactly her idea of a production. It wasn't my idea of one either, but I did try to keep that to myself.
This year, same preschool, but a different kid and a different show. Instead of Frosty, We were treated to what my husband refers to as Mrs. Tinkerton's Toys of Terror. The plot is simple, a bunch of broken toys are sad that they are relegated to the back of the toy shop, the toy shop owner realizes that they are alive, and one by one, teaches them that they all have different talents that make them lovable. Blah blah blah. What makes this show horrifying is the lead character, Mrs. Tinkerton.

In an artistic choice that leaves me baffled, the sweet (female) toyshop owner is played by a wolf in woman's clothing.

The mascot, as it were, of this theater is a wolf. He is, quite possibly, the most demented looking thing I have ever seen. Red sweat pants, a spangled red sweater stolen off the back of a chair during the annual Boca Raton Senior Citizen Home Christmas Gala, stage makeup more reminiscent of Kabuki than cannibal, and as a final touch, two wolf ears, one of which (I swear) was on backward. He kicks off the show by chatting with the audience and waiting for Mrs. Tinkerton to arrive. Very quickly, we learn that Mrs. Tinkerton is out sick and the wolf has to play her part. He happily dons her apron, capelet, and bonnet (with the already pale and strange makeup, turning himself from a deranged wolf into a zombie Mrs. Claus) and we proceed with the show.
So, to clarify: there is now a guy wearing both a crappy wolf costume AND a crappy knock-off Mrs. Claus costume AT THE SAME TIME pretending to be a woman.

Moving on.
There were other strange artistic choices through the production that I just couldn't wrap my head around. A drummer toy, who had a broken arm and only one drumstick (the other one and the drum itself were the casualty of a what must have been a short-lived but particularly violent war), spent the entire show up on a pedestal conducting the other toys in their various songs and dances using his drumstick as a baton. Yet, when it came his turn to learn his true worth, it wasn't for his skills as a maestro, but for being a one-armed drummer. But! But! He already WAS a one-armed drummer! WTF dude!

The ballerina with a broken foot (who spent the entire show twirling on the one with the cast) learns that she is very good at making funny faces and the dancing bear who can't dance learns that he is an excellent comedian. Well, funny thing that, since they are both toys, I imagine they won't get to make faces or tell jokes to anyone since, you know, they aren't supposed to move! Wouldn't it have been better to teach the ballerina to twirl on her non-broken foot? (Which the actress can't seem to remember to do for love or money.) Or, this being a toy shop and all, actually fix the foot? Also, since the only reason the dancing bear can't boogie bis ecause his batteries ran out, you know, maybe insert new batteries?
I am going to ignore the rest of the toys because, let's face it, a good toymaker could have just fixed them all. Instead, Mrs. Tinkerton finally confesses that she keeps these broken, beaten toys in the back of the shop because she loves them best of all. Isn't there a word for someone who prefers consoling the sick instead of healing them? Munchausen by proxy anyone?

Thankfully, the show itself is short and ends, as everything must during the Christmas season, with a visit from Santa Claus. And while I want to put both preschool teachers on the naughty list for subjecting all of us parents to this little slice of madness, the kids laughed, sang, and enjoyed themselves immensely. They didn't notice the bad puns, the bad cross-dressing, and the even worse singing. But I did. Oh, I did indeed.

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