REVIEW: Munsch not just for tots

Munsch Upon a Time is classified as children's theatre. But, considering some of Robert Munsch's classics date back to the 1980s, it's not just tots who will enjoy watching his tales come to life. I recently found myself reviewing the author's catalog, reminiscing about some of my favourites -- 50 Below Zero, Thomas' Snowsuit, Mortimer and the tear-jerker I'll Love You Forever.

None of those are included in playwright Debbie Patterson's Munsch, which sees three characters from different decades come together to tell five of his best-known stories. But being unfamiliar with a couple of books didn't lessen the enjoyment -- the author's unmistakable tone makes each story a delight and there were many from which to choose.

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Consistent with director Mack Gordon's desire to keep things a surprise, I won't tell you which ones Patterson included. The stories are woven together with the help of Prof. Pimm's time-travel machine, hilariously portrayed by two porta-potties thanks to set designer Jared Raschke.

The kids howled with laughter at the flushing sound effects and Andrew Cooper's Pimm was equally humorous. Cooper is quickly becoming a fan-favourite amongst Kamloops theatregoers for his animation on stage -- and he didn't disappoint. He's joined by Randi Edmundson as hippy-girl Patsy from 1976 and Melissa Thomas as germ-fearing Fullerton from 2046. They find a commonality in books -- hence their desire to tell Munch's stories -- but this theme is reached a little late.

Early on, the link between the characters and the stories is a bit of a stretch. The highlight, however, was puppets designed by Edmundson. The set for the play is minimal, but the various quirky props made for many laughs -- from kids and parents alike.

Project X found unique, simple ways to illustrate Munsch's words. One scene included two rolls of toilet paper and a blowdryer to make smoke, which I found incredibly amusing. As is characteristic of children's theatre, audience participation was included and the kids were eager to get involved. The three cast members worked cohesively, multi-tasking on stage. They're used to it, considering all three, plus Gordon, are also involved in X-Fest's The Wizard of Oz. Edmundson's puppets also make an appearance there.

My first attempt to see Munsch was cancelled due to rain, but with good weather in the forecast, X-Fest should see a full week of successful performances. Munsch Upon A Time and The Wizard of Oz continue in Prince Charles Park until July 30. Nightly performances start at 7 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays and no shows on Sunday. Tickets are available at the Kamloops Live box office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483 or kamloopslive.ca.

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