Round We Go on a Miraculous Journey at 24th St. Theatre

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater
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A porcelain rabbit may seem like a strange pet, but considering that all dolls came with porcelain heads in the late 19th century, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane begins to make sense. First a beloved children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, Edward Tulane was adapted as a theatrical piece by the famous Childsplay Theatre Company in Arizona. Now, with 24th Street Theatre’s Jay McAdams as producer, Debbie Devine concocts a procession of vignettes to create wonder-full production that suits all ages.

Not simply to regurgitate past productions, Devine has taken the narrative apart and put it back together in a different way, with whimsical music (thanks to Bradley Brough) using sundry industrial stage objects, from traditional “ghost” light, to mobile paint cart.  The all-important doll is the province of designer Shannon A. Kennedy, while Matthew G Hill manages video design. Providing ambiance, Dan Weingarten’s lighting illuminates the journey, pin-pointing the action, while creating wonder with an all-enveloping starry night that fills the theatre.

But the real magic belongs to four versatile actors; Jennifer Hasty, Carlos Larking, Brady Dalton Richards, and Rachel Weck.  Together, they recreate Edward Tulane’s long journey, a preening diva of a doll that, through a Dickensian trip down the last 100 years, finally learns to have compassion for others.

Each vignette constitutes a separate adventure beginning with his full set of clothing as a new, vain bunny. Significantly, Edward gains a new identity each time.  The highlight, for me, is the Depression era “riding the rails” on the capacious paint cart with Bull and Lucy (Brady Dalton Richards and Rachel Weck) when Richards creates engaging and realistic dog behavior.  Carlos Larkin, who voices Edward, seems clueless most of the time, but gains wisdom with each iteration until the crescendo, when there is not a dry eye in the audience.  Never fear, though.  I’m assured that, in McAdams’ experience, children at the performances do not feel the nostalgic tug as their parents.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane continues Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm through May 19th, 2019 at the 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., Los Angeles CA 90007. Tickets: $10.00 to $24.00 for non-residents; $2.40 for those from University Park. Phone (213) 745-6516, or www.24thstreet.org.