January 20, 2020
Delightfully familiar material in young audiences’ romp
By John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
Ankeny Community Theatre has done a great job in developing its programming and responding to its primary market’s – its own community – desires in experiencing live performing arts. Their enthusiasm in producing shows to introduce newcomers to the wonder of live theatre is noteworthy, and this production likely will rank as a favorite for their audiences.
Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit is Jonathan Rand’s tongue-and-cheek title describing the mashup of nursery rhymes and fairy tale characters dropped into a parody investigation of uncovering the perpetrators of the mysterious destruction of two of the Three Little Pigs houses. Using spare but cleverly adapted set elements to portray the variety of scenes gives young minds the chance to appreciate how their imagination can fill in the story segments. This script stays true to the formulaic delivery of the Law & Order: SVU format, complete with punctuated sound cues and place/time announcer, all adding to the fun of effectively blending of the two genres: crime scene series and fairy tale stories. This concoction is a hoot to experience and the plentiful laughter was a fine barometer of its success.
Carrying the story load for this giggle-inducing escape are Katty Perrell as Detective Cindy and Doug Moon as Detective HD. Perrell and Moon deliver the flippant banter and pun-filled commentary with a comic ease that effortlessly carries the audience along this joy ride of appealing action. More seasoned patrons will appreciate the occasional layered humor, reminiscent of the classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Adults will appreicate the Law & Order references, everyone will enjoy the familiar characters from childhood literature, sometimes thinly veiled through the use of nicknames and innuendo. The combination of all of these ingredients makes for a delightful introduction for young audiences to the fun and appeal of live theatre.
Director Lynn Arterburn understands and develops the humor captured in Rand’s clever script. She has given the bounty of young performers cast in her show the chance to become part of a well-coordinated ensemble. This collection of scenes laid out in its “who-done-it” timeline gives everyone in the cast an opportunity to shine. And, shine they do, much to everyone’s delight. This hour-long show clips along at a fairly good pace, albeit some of the scene shifting was a bit cumbersome. There were parents attending with infants who would fuss, breaking the focus of others. Some toddlers also tended to loudly proclaim their thoughts, sometimes in most inopportune times. Theatre etiquette takes time to understand and teach, and this audience was patiently understanding. The final outcome is a bouncy show, filled with humor and many laugh-inducing bits. It’s not Shakespeare, nor is it supposed to be, thankfully. It’s what community theatre for its youngest patrons is all about, connecting with the live performance. In that vein, Ankeny Community Theatre achieves a fairy tale ending, with a dash of fun.
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