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The Witch's Face and Other Tales of Wonder

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The Witch's Face and Other Tales of Wonder, Fantasy Orchard Children's Theatre, at the Ivanhoe Theater. When this show starts--20 minutes late the day I attended--the audience of schoolchildren is asked to chant, "Take me to Mexico." Fantasy Orchard Children's Theatre has two tales from Central American folklore to tell, in English and Spanish (all translated): a man in love with a masked witch learns about trust and about loving what's inside a person, and a man fighting the goddesses of rain, fire, and earth for their special powers offers a message about loving the earth and using power for positive ends. These well-crafted stories are magical in the hands of director Dana Low.

The familiar contemporary music, the energetic dancing (wonderfully choreographed by Amy Fulgham), and the bright costumes (designed by Low) add polish to the show--though the dim lighting forces the audience to strain to see the action, and the music is so loud you have to fight to hear the dialogue. The casual narration--by Monica Rodriguez, who was having difficulty with her lines--doesn't help.

The rest of the cast is much more confident, even though the production schedule is erratic--the show plays only on mornings when a school group is booked and on Saturdays at 1 PM. Laura Jean Francis, Mandy Schneider, and Joey Honsa have great presence as the witches and goddesses, and Michael Sherman is an entertaining and acrobatic clown hero.

--Jenn Goddu

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