Piglet, Pooh & a bubble bath too!

Winnie the Pooh and friends take to the stage at Fountain Hills Youth Theater through Oct 24 for “Winnie-The-Pooh,” a play based on the stories of A. A. Milne and dramatized by Kristen Sergel.

This is true theater by and for youth. The director, Nick Maddox, is an ASU student. Set designer/hair & make-up designer, Danie Beamish, attends Mesa Community College.

I attended Sunday’s matinee with my daughter Lizabeth, and was delighted to see a nearly full house in which preschoolers appeared to outnumber parents.

The show, just over one hour in length, involves the escapades of Pooh and friends as Kanga and Roo come to town. It seems Kanga is fond of cleanliness, and little Piglet terrified of the tub.

Pooh tries to help, of course, but there’s all that honey to eat and all that time spent floating with a blue balloon. Piglet ends up in Kanga’s tin tub as children marvel at bubbles floating down from the bubble machine above.

Most of Pooh’s friends appear in the Hundred Acre Wood at some point — once the narrator and Christopher Robin (holding his stuffed Pooh bear) set the stage. There’s Owl, Eeyore, Rabbit (with six rabbit children) and Skunk.

We enjoyed Amanda Azzarello’s performance as Kanga — who keeps a bar of soap handy in case someone gets too sassy. Summer Beckman as Roo was bright and energetic, and Patrick Moyse’s Eeyore was ever so good at being gloomy.

Katie Male shined as Owl (her costume was among our favorites) and Devin Derr’s Piglet had that perfect balance of perkiness.

Children in the audience clearly loved the entire cast — laughing most heartily during Pooh’s struggles to “think, think, think” and Eeyore’s moments of melancholy.

We loved the set, which echos the charming drawings of Milne’s stories. Trees in the Hundred Acre Wood feature green paper leaves traced from child-size hands. The detail, and colors, are exceptional.

Both acts begin with charming “Winnie the Pooh” music that sounds like it’s coming from a well-loved vinyl record playing on an old phonograph — evoking a genuine nostalgia for Milne’s stories.

Normally I’m not a fan of preschoolers with cell phones, but I do so wish that just this once they could get ahold of devices that would let them text their friends about this show.

Based on the gleeful squeals and giggles during Sunday’s matinee, I suspect they’d all give it glowing reviews.

— Lynn

Note: Thanks to the “Winnie-The-Pooh” program, we learned about several upcoming events in Fountain Hills — including Friday night “Jazz in the Hills” concerts, Fountain Hills “Chamber Players” concerts, the 2010 “Fountain Festival of the Arts & Crafts” (Nov 12-14) and the 2011 “Fountain Hills Great Fair” (Feb 25-27).

Coming up: Review of Disney’s “Beauty & The Beast” at ASU Gammage


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