Sleeping Beauty, Too!, Comedy-Sportz. My life in the theatah, as they say, began around the age of five, when my parents dragged me to Niles for a live version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Though my recollection's mostly faded, the image of Peter himself is indelible: careening through the house and enlisting every giggling, shrieking toddler there as counselor and ally, this dude in a bunny suit worked the room like Tom Jones and Barney rolled into one. Which of course is pretty much the whole trick in children's theater, especially a post-Discovery Zone number like ComedySportz's Sleeping Beauty, Too!
This sort of fare effectively sidelines a critic, reducing him to a gauge of crowd response. Not because the acting's broader than a barn, or the story's been simplified to a primary-colored rebus, but because the real experience lies in rescuing the bound prince, sticking Band-Aids on injured giants, joining Beauty's bridal party--or watching your children do so. Judging solely from all the hyperactive delight and gentle beaming the afternoon I attended, the show was an unmitigated hit with both demographics. Director Katherine Gotsick gave the kids a lot of rein but never let things deteriorate into a free-for-all, and the cast's big, bright characterizations were uniformly warm, self-effacing, and silly. A few actors--especially Lauren Bishop and Amber Tillett as the heavies--even made me laugh.