Kudos to the saintly and/or crazy Sadonna Croff for directing this cast of 30 young folks from 10 to 18. Coraline was her first musical, offering extra challenges for her fifth year heading up the Young Artisan Workshop program at Riverwalk. Thanks also to Angie Schwab, accompanist and music director.
Tom Ferris’s multi-level set represented both Coraline’s real home, and the “other home” accessed by the magical door— with useful hiding places for unexpected creatures. Assorted puppets added to the throng, and were another opportunity for kids to be creative. Lighting by Elijah Hartley helped with transitions and defined the mirror-world.
Kinza Parker was our intrepid heroine, bringing us along on her curious explorations and learning the meaning of bravery — being scared, but doing it anyway — foiling the evil Other Mother and saving her parents, trapped in the netherworld of the mirror — with the help of the magic stone with the hole, and the aloof advice of the Cat (Lauren Kreuger).
Steve Wulfekuhler did well as both Mr. Bobo and Other Mr. Bobo, with energy, animation and a fun accent, as he commandeered his circus mice and/or rats. Margaret Waterbury had a strong, mature voice as Miss Forcible, paired with the flightier Bella Croff as Miss Spink. Other Miss Spink (Lottie-Brook Mims) and Other Miss Forcible (Jarod Jeffery) were dramatic in their Theatre-Is-Fun scene.
As with most shows by young/new performers, there were times we might want to tighten up the pace, but the twisty plot and fun surprises kept us interested — and my amazement at the crowd control needed to bring such a surreal and interesting fable together led me to give it any “grains of salt” needed.
This fun, mysterious show continues at 7pm Saturday and 4:30 pm Sunday ONE WEEKEND ONLY! It does last nearly two hours, (counting intermission) so both length and spookiness make it less than ideal for very young children.