ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
The Berenstain Bears LIVE! In Family Matters
On stage, as in the original books, Borton explores some important life lessons about honesty, health, and safety. Devanand Janki, the director and choreographer, has engaged young performers who not only look cuddly but also sound as you always imagined the Berenstain Bears would. Luke Hegel-Cantarella and Lora LaVon, the set and costume designers, have done a fine job of duplicating the spirit of Stan and Jan's storybook characters.
The musical is based on three of the books: The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, and The Berenstain Bears' Trouble at School and peppers the story line with ten lively musical numbers. Without being preachy, and at just one hour, the show offers life lessons that can be easily digested by youngsters.
Director Janki's light and clever hand leaves no room for sluggish spots. While lacking Broadway pyrotechnics The Berenstain Bears LIVE! is a good bet for a first-time theater performance (suggested age is 2 through 10). Moreover, it won't break your wallet, and the show gives kids a chance to enjoy a theatrical experience in a very up-close and personal way.
Mixed in with the fun there are some bitter pills for this Bear Family to swallow, and Mama Bear (Laurie Geigel) and Doctor Grizzly (Rori Nogee) see to it that Papa and the cubs don't stray too far in Bear Country, especially when life gets dark, sticky, or confusing. Whether its Brother Bear's (Alex Goley) school grades slipping, Sister Bear's (Jill Kurzner) overfriendliness to strangers at the Village Green, or Papa Bear's (Ryan Scarlata) very fluffy belly, life in Bear Country can be quite unbearable (get it?).
The performances are suitably sincere and warm. Mama and Papa Bear Laurie Geigel and Ryan Scarlata show parental aplomb, knowing when to give their cubs a bear hug or simply put their paw down. And Jill Kurzner and Alex Goley, playing Brother and Sister Bear, are quite adept at showing that life in Bear Country is no picnic. In the supporting role of Dr. Grizzly, Rori Nogee exudes good sense. And Gramps as played by Ben Thorpe, subtly adds the idea of three generations living in harmony.
Be sure to leave time for the post-show activity for your young cubs which allows kids to try their hand at face-painting, or to snag an autograph from a cast member (the back cover of the "Bearbill" has lots of space for autographs).
The musical, which began its life at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadephia, has been on a 35-week national tour before arriving in New York. And judging by the happy faces of the youngsters in the audience at MMAC, The Berenstain Bears LIVE! are likely to be a good fit for summer fun in New York.
Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show
Slings & Arrows-the complete set
You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company