‘If You Give A Moose A Muffin’ at Adventure Theatre MTC by Julia L. Exline

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There’s a moose on the loose! Adventure Theatre presents If You Give A Moose A Muffin, a riotous play based on the popular children’s book by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond, adapted for the stage by Steve Garfinkel, and directed by Jeremy Skidmore.

Scenic Designer Luciana Stecconi sets the stage as a bright living room, painted a welcoming mint green, with shiny wooden floors, cushy furniture, and a colorful, swirl-patterned rug. A door covered in a mish-mash of stickers reads, “Donald’s Room,” and a variety of knick-knacks lay about to give the room a lived-in, detailed atmosphere. For all its vibrancy, the room is neat and tidy, with everything in its place. Let’s see how it fares after a visit from a lively moose! Lighting Designer Dan Covey keeps the stage well lit, and has some playful fun with flashing lights during a dance scene, with music accompanied by Sound Designer Elisheba Ittoop.

A hungry moose (Michael Russotto) visits Donald (Parker Drown). Photo by Bruce Douglas.

It’s a lazy afternoon, and Donald (Parker Drown) is watching TV instead of doing his chores (consistently nagged by the voice of an offstage mother). Not long after he hears a news bulletin about a roving moose, there is a knock at the door, and Donald comes face-to-face with an imposing Moose (Michael Russotto). Costume Designer Erin Nugent has Donald in a simple blue-striped shirt, pants, and a backwards cap, and the moose in a sharp suit and tie that doesn’t entirely cover up the abundance of fur that covers his hands and feet. The real eye drawer, of course, is his massive antlers, which make him have to turn sideways and duck just to enter the room, and continue to be a hilarious hindrance throughout the show.

At first, Donald is resistant to the large mammal that has welcomed itself inside, but the moose is charming, and soon has Donald’s interest. With a poke of environmental awareness, the moose explains that his forest home is dwindling because of urbanization, and hey, where else can he go? The two have a quick banter and work off each other nicely, but then a timer dings…and muffins are ready. In what becomes a highly entertaining domino effect, the moose pleads for his first muffin and inevitably needs add-ons, like jam…and more muffins. The excitable moose becomes inspired, and blazes about the room in a frenzy, barely starting one project before being distracted by another. Donald, sensing trouble, is hesitant, but the moose gets his way through a variety of means; nagging, guilt-trips, and a good, old-fashioned temper-tantrum. Donald begins to forget about his reservations and plays along, having a great time while dancing, painting, making sock puppets… the list go on. An imaginative scene where they are playing make-believe with a plain white bed sheet as their only prop is a particular favorite moment of mine.

Michael Russotto (Moose). Photo by Bruce Douglas.

A new friendship is growing…but so is the mess!

Both Parker Drown and Michael Russotto are endearing and highly entertaining, and have great chemistry together, working off each other and the young crowd, with whom they interacted. The children shouted advice, shrieked laughter, and had tons of fun! And this adult was thoroughly entertained throughout the show as well.

For a great afternoon with your family, I highly recommend Adventure Theatre MTC’s funny If You Give A Moose A Muffin.

Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

If You Give A Moose A Muffin plays through September 2, 2012 at Adventure Theatre – in Glen Echo Park – 7300 MacArthur Blvd, in Glen Echo, MD. Purchase tickets by calling (301) 634-2270, or order them online.

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