Polly Princess and the Penniless Fry Cook
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by Jena Tesse Fox
One cannot stress the importance of children's theatre. After all, kids who go to shows now will someday become grownups who go to shows... And pay full price for tickets. Of course, by the time the youth of today are old enough to get tickets to a Broadway show, they'll have to mortgage their house to do it. But that's neither here nor there.
What is here, and now, is Tuckaberry Productions, a new theatre company in Brooklyn dedicated to presenting original shows for families. Their latest production is an original musical comedy Polly Princess and the Penniless Fry Cook, a sweet, utterly charming, and refreshing new take on the old fairy tales courtesy of Dianna Tucker and Adam Baritot. Ostensibly, the show is for children, and it's true, there's nothing in the show to offend or bore the under-ten set. The smart and funny story of the titular pampered princess who finds herself in love with the titular penniless cook will appeal to many children, but the dizzying wit and virtuous lessons about keeping an open mind will appeal to their parents.
Filled with pop-culture references and plenty of catchy (not to mention genuinely well-written) songs, Polly Princess brings a very modern sense of humor to the exhausted genre. Orphaned Polly dreams of being the typical princess who is swept off her feet by the typical charming prince, just like in all the books. But, as she sings, "Princes and charming don't mean love," and by the time she replaces her traditional glass slippers for comfortable hiking boots, Polly has learned many life lessons that can apply to people of all backgrounds, genders and ages. It's the ideal fairy tale for kids and grown-ups whether in New York or in some faraway kingdom.
The cast of four keep in perfect synch with the witty script, performing with tongue firmly in cheek but never condescending to their youngest audience members. Margaret Cross, as Polly, performs with ample amounts of both sass and class, and gets to show off her amazing range in several of Adam Baritot's catchy songs. Adam Doran, as the cook, is sweetly awkward and quite sympathetic for anyone who has ever felt unworthy of a beloved. Lorraine Lampert steals every moment she is onstage as the hip and perpetually overworked fairy godmother. Composer Baritot doubles on stage as the cook's best friend, but saddles himself with the one weak number in the show.
There is true magic in this humble Brooklyn playhouse, and kids of all ages can lose themselves for an hour in the quirky silliness of this modern fairy tale. Polly Princess is better than most "family" theatre on Broadway, and at a mere $10 per ticket ($7 for children), it is much more realistically priced for families, too. Skip the expensive Disney musicals and head out to Brooklyn. Spectacle shows can't beat good writing with a good heart.
Polly Princess and the Penniless Fry Cook has one more performance on Saturday, May 14th at 3:00 at the Impact Theatre in Brooklyn... unless it extends, which it really should. Visit http://www.tuckaberry.bravehost.com/princesssummary.html for more information, or call 718-783-1348 for tickets.