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Shaunessey DeRosa and Ernie Nicastro in “Bad Seed” by TAPA

TAPA (The Academy for Performing Arts) has definitely become the little theater company that could. They continue to adequately produce full-fledged classic plays and musicals (“The Glass Menagerie,” “Scrooge the Musical”) on a shoestring budget with only the help of ticket sales and their donors.

Knowing this before I stepped into “Bad Seed”—their season-closer showing through May 13 at TAPA Theatre, 1230 Oakland Park Ave.—I was thoroughly surprised by the lavish sets and some of the amazing talent that graced the stage.

Maxwell Anderson’s hit 1955 Broadway play chronicles the tale of a seemingly perfect 1950s suburban home. A “Leave It to Beaver”-style family—military father, a doting wife and a cute 8-year-old daughter in blonde pig tales—open the show to their daily Cleaver-like routines. It first reminds you of “Our Town” but soon a young boy from the local grade school is found drowned in a nearby lake and evidence quickly begins to point to the 8-year-old girl.

Mysteries from the girl’s and the mother’s past are revealed that show a pattern of murder that could be hereditary, calling into questions whether the daughter’s acts are triggered by nature or nurture.

TAPA puts on a sound production. The plush stage is perfectly set by Don Roberts, who acts as director and set designer, and the costumes adequately represent the era.

Shaunessey DeRosa is perfectly creepy as Rhoda Penmark, the 8-year-old villain. Her smile and disposition stays painted and perky even when admitting to her mother that she’s committed murder.

Ginny Cipolla also shines as Monica Breedlove, the nosey and annoying neighbor quick with an opinion. She helps to offer a bit of comedic relief to the otherwise frightful tale. And Cheryl Muller, as the grieving Mrs. Daigle, also puts in a few scene-stealing moments, bursting in on Mrs. Penmark in a drunken stupor to seek answers from her daughter.

The production is far from perfect, a few lags in energy, some dropped lines and misplaced sound cues muddle the storyline, but overall it’s a trilling and well executed sleuth that worth the city’s attention.

TAPA’s “Bad Seed” runs through May 13 at TAPA Theatre, 1260 Oakland Park Ave., Columbus. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for children/seniors. For more information call 614-783-3955 or visit www.tapacolumbus.wordpress.com.

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