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A CurtainUp Review
The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks
By Julia Furay
If you're not familiar with McArthur's popular children's series, the offbeat story is just as the title advertises (think Little Shop of Horrors lite). It focuses on two young brothers who adopt a plant with some strange dietary needs, and become closer as a result. Michael the slob (Jason Williams), and Norman the neatnik (Lance Rubin) soon realize that their oddball plant needs to be kept secret from their parents, popular kid Jason (Jeffrey Omura), and snoopy cheerleading neighbor Patty (Lauren Marcus).
The tale is given a contemporary musical treatment, with rock-influenced songs (the orchestra consists of a pianist and drummer), and plenty of fun terminology (dudely, fly, freakazoid, wicked). Composer/lyricist Joe Iconis has created a musically exuberant score and playful lyrics that fit the story. And director John Simpkins keeps the energy high throughout, assisted by the bouncy choreography of Jennifer Werner.
Williams and Rubin are both likeable as the two brothers, but William's messy, teddy bear-like appeal is more believable than Rubin's obviously fake nerdy act. Kilty Reidy and Lorinda Lisitza as their parents are sometimes over-the-top. They've been given some hilarious costumes from designer Tracy Christensen (like Dad's businesslike purple polka-dotted pajamas, complete with tie and briefcase).
The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks is solid and entertaining even though not quite as memorable as earlier Theatreworks productions like Junie B. Jones or Anne of Green Gables. The supporting characters tend to be overly generic even for a kid's show, making the story feels a little forced at moments. Ultimately, what makes the show so appealing and work so well though, is its unabashedly weird heart. Whether dressed up as a robot or a gorilla to solve a mystery, trying to teach their plants to speak, or showing off their sock-eating plants at a science fair, Michael and Norman always dish up a large doses of silly fun.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
In the Heights
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide