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Review: ‘The Legend of Pufferfish Pat’ at InterAct Story Theatre

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Pufferfish Pat is hardly your run of the mill Cowboy name. In fact, it’s so unusual that the cowboy it identifies gets “madder than a wet hen!” whenever it is mentioned. His face turns red, he swings his arms wildly, yells in a very loud voice and swells up his chest. It’s kind of like watching an actual Pufferfish in the ocean once it is startled. And that’s the whole problem!

Kelsey Yudice as Pufferfish Pat, Alex Miletich IV as Cookie, Elle Marie Sullivan as One-Eyed Jack. Photo courtesy of InterAct Story Theatre.

As described on the InterAct Story Theatre website, Artistic Director Ali Oliver-Krueger wrote and directs this play about managing anger and other big feelings. The goal of The Legend of Pufferfish Pat was to create a work in which families can hear characters share their tips and ideas for managing angry feelings and see characters modeling different anger management strategies. But don’t tell the kids that. The kids will just know that they are having fun!

Kelsey Yudice plays Pufferfish Pat, a legendary cowboy hero and son of Mayor Ma Murchison (Alex Miletich IV). The town of Gravy Gulch is preparing for the annual Great Gravy Cook-off and Fashion Festival, but Pat’s temper tantrums might scare off any tourists before the special event gets started. Black hat cowboy One-Eyed Jack (Elle Marie Sullivan) tries to ensure Pat is kicked out of town as revenge for the accident which left him wearing an eye patch.

The set changes, designed by Peter Oliver-Krueger, are particularly clever and innovative as chuck wagons and store fronts magically transport you between a dusty prairie campfire and a rustic old time Western town. Authentic looking Western costumes, designed by Rachel Frederick & Andrea Schewe, are perfectly blended with a fast paced dialog which engages the younger patrons and is loaded with lots of alliteration, rhyme and even yodeling!

Kelsey Yudice as Pufferfish Pat, Alex Miletich IV as Cookie, Elle Marie Sullivan as One-Eyed Jack. Photo courtesy of InterAct Story Theatre.

Audience members sing the festival’s official theme song and provide sound effects throughout the show which keeps the younger crowd interested and excited. Pre-show activities begin 30 minutes before the performance and include crafts for the kids. Plus, there’s a chance to meet and talk with the actors after the show.

The Legend of Pufferfish Pat continues InterAct Story Theater’s long history of providing educational, theatrical entertainment for children.

Running Time: 55 minutes with no intermission.

The Legend of Pufferfish Pat performs through September 23 at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center 7995 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tickets are available online.

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