‘Five Little Monkeys’ at Adventure Theatre MTC by Julia L. Exline

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Adventure Theatre MTC presents Five Little Monkeys, a wacky production based on the beloved children’s book by Eileen Christelow. Karin Abromaitis directs this energy-packed hour of mischief and mayhem, including kitchen disasters, picnic adventures, a bewildering shopping trip, and more!

From L to R: Joey Ibanez, Ben Lurye, Katie Culligan, Aviva Pressman, Valerie Leonard, and Jacob Yeh. Photo by Bruce Douglas.

Scenic Designer Rob Berry covers the stage with complex, colorful monkey bars, on which the characters swing and climb throughout the production. A large painted tree takes center stage, with puffy, lit-up clouds hovering above in a blue sky. The actors also wheel large props on and off the stage in order to change settings, such as department store clothing racks and a kitchen counter. Lighting by Jason Arnold pairs nicely with sound by Neil McFadden, especially in a scene that has projected patterns revolving around the floor, set to music. Katie Touart stays true to the book with her bright costume designs, right down to the frilled purple housecoat worn by the mother. As the monkey siblings are not named, each character has a number emblazoned on their costumes to make identifying them easier, and they wear caps covered with shaggy yarn for an overall monkey effect.

Valerie Leonard plays the somewhat hassled mother of five rambunctious monkeys, whom she introduces individually as they leap and hang off of the monkey bars. Garnered with good intentions, they decide to bake her a birthday cake while she sleeps, and turn the kitchen upside-down in the process. Jacob Yeh, Katie Culligan, Joey Ibanez, Aviva Pressman, and Ben Lurye make up this bouncy gang, and the audience joins in on the fun as they gather for a picnic in the park. However, when their mother dashes back home to retrieve something she forgot (after asking the audience to look after her brood for a moment) the siblings encounter a hungry crocodile, who chases them high into a tree! Their day only gets more dramatic as a shopping trip turns chaotic, with monkeys wandering off and disappearing faster than their mother can round them up. While this scene was entertaining for a moment, I felt that it went on for far too long. After a positively exhausting day, the monkeys settle in for bedtime, finally picking up where the storybook begins. Ignoring their mother’s orders and misbehaving …no matter how many doctor calls their mother has to make.

From L to R Ben Lurye, Joey Ibanez, Aviva Pressman, Katie Culligan, Valerie Leonard, and Jacob Yeh. Photo by Bruce Douglas.

The dialogue is all spoken in rhymed cumulative verse, which mirrors the way the book is written and puts a fun spin on the show. Physical humor is a large part of this production as well, with leaps, bounds, and actors quickly climbing over, under, and across intricately connected monkey bars. The effect resembles a choreographed dance.

The children at my performance really enjoyed themselves, and happy kids make happy parents! So treat your child to a showing of Five Little Monkeys… just don’t your kids get any mischievous ideas!

Running time is 60 minutes, without an intermission.

Five Little Monkeys plays through June 3, 2012 at Adventure Theatre MTC – 7300 MacArthur Blvd (Glen Echo Park), in Glen Echo, MD. Purchase tickets by calling (301) 634 -2270, or order them online.

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