Noah's Ark, Emerald City Theatre Company, at the Apollo Theater. Playwrights Alyn Cardarelli and Steve Goers have whitewashed the story of Noah in their politically correct, Disney-esque musical adaptation. Complete with oblique references to a "higher authority," at least the play won't alienate secular or non-Christian audience members. Still, Emerald City has a sterling record of producing inventive, seemingly spontaneous children's fare--and Noah's Ark is a didactic, slow-moving bore.
What's particularly irksome is that the playwrights don't appear to consider the extinction of nearly all life on earth germane. Some liberties must be taken, of course; conveying the story's dark undercurrents to children isn't an easy proposition. But Cardarelli and Goers seem to have missed the point entirely, transforming Noah's tribulations into a high-seas adventure and blanketing it all with a moral of friendship through adversity.
Director Doug Long manages to inject some moments of humor--the slapstick buffoonery of Noah's three sons, the revelation that cuddly Pikachu also boarded the ark. But the entire affair is too drab and static to sustain interest for more than a few minutes. As Noah, Michael Kingston has both a warm stage presence and a terrific voice, but he simply can't carry the entire show. After all, this isn't the story of the mighty Atlas.