For their pre-spring children’s showcase The Phoenix Theatre for Children is bundling up in animal fur for their presentation of “The House at Pooh Corner,” showing through March 11 in Studio One of the Vern Rifffe Center, 77 S. High Street, Columbus.
The stage is beautifully set in Hundred Acre Woods where Pooh and the gang are dealing with departure of their long-time friend Christopher Robin (he’s finally starting school). They decide to throw a farewell party but the plans are delayed by the calamity that is Tigger, a troublesome tiger cub who can’t seem to stop bouncing around.
The story directly follows that of the popular children’s tale by A. A. Milne, adapted for the stage by Bettye Knapp. Christopher Robin (Kelan Huffman), Winnie the Pooh (Joe Dallacqua), Piglet (Dionysia Williams), Eyore (Tom Patton), Rabbit (Cody Shope), Tigger (Josie Merkle), Kanga and little Roo (both played by Liz Wheeler) are all there, elaborately costumed by Tatjana Longerot.
All the casts’ faces are covered, as to not destroy the illusion, which could have made the show seem very stationary, but overly expressive movements and the extremely excitable Merkle as Tigger kept the audience of grade-schoolers intrigued. The play is also just over an hour, appropriately short for the attention spans of little ones.
Stephanie Gerckens’s set was one of the most elaborate I’ve seen from CATCO-Pheonix. Colorful and full of nuance it looked like you’d walked into a 3-D version of a Winnie the Pooh storybook.
My 4-year-old isn’t one to say still for longer than a few seconds, but “The House at Pooh Corner” cast and crew have created a show that kept him in his seat and wide-eyed for the duration. That’s a not a feat to be taken lightly.
“The House at Pooh Corner” by The Phoenix Theatre for Children runs through March 11, 2012 in Studio One of the Vern Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street, Columbus. Tickets are $10 for children and $20 for adults. For more information visit http://www.phoenix4kids.org.