‘Red Riding Hood: A New Fable’ at Olney Theatre Center by Amanda Gunther

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Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go as The Olney Theatre Center presents Red Riding Hood: A New Fable. A rollicking twist on this classic Brothers Grimm tale, the children will have quite the experience with Millie as she conquers first grade with a new teacher, her imagination and of course her love of reading.

How does one outsmart a wolf with no woodsman around? Millie (Dorea Schmidt) isn't about to be fooled by this hungry wolf, played by Jared Mason Murray in Olney Theatre Center Institute's production of 'Red Riding Hood: A New Fable.' Photo by Kristin Campbell.

The atmosphere is fantastic for children. When the house is opened up to the audience Red’s Granny (Chelsie Lloyd) is waiting in the aisle to help guests to the their seats and is then ready to hold story time at the front of the stage, inviting all of the younger members of the audience to come down, sit on the steps and partake in the reading of a fun age appropriate story. The stage is decorated with storybook pages. Scenic Designer Kristin Browning Campbell really captures the essence of imagination with huge trees shooting skyward made out of these pages, as well as lining the main backdrop with him. The whole set looks fun and inviting for little minds to explore.

The only caution is that this show is extremely verbose with large vocabulary words that may be above the grade level of most young children. The characters, Millie (Dorea Schmidt) and her best friend Amy (Chelsie Lloyd) are supposed to be starting first grade, and although Millie is extremely smart because she reads a lot of books – they both speak with a highly articulated vocabulary. And they do a lot of talking. Once the action picks up – when we get into Red’s (Dorea Schmidt) imagination –  the kids really got excited.

Dorea Schmidt (Millie/Red) and Chelsie Lloyd (Amy/Mom/Grandma). Photo by Kristin Campbell.

The show is really entertaining. Millie – as Red in her imagination— challenges the Wolf (Jared Mason Murray) to a trivia contest – which relies heavily on audience participation to help him get the answers to her questions correct. Murray is really fantastic with the children. He comes barreling up and down the aisles as various characters making the children laugh and giggle as he interacts with them. When Murray takes on the roll of Mr. Randolph, the new first grade teacher, he again gets the audience involved as if they were a part of Millie’s new class – asking various children to present their name and something they like to do at school. He is a wonder throughout this show and really makes it enjoyable.

So find the new twist and meet some new characters and exercise your imagination at Olney Theatre Center’s presentation of Red Riding Hood: A New Fable.

Running Time: One hour with no intermission.

Red Riding Hood: A New Fable plays through April 7, 2012, at Olney’s Historic Stage at Olney Theatre Center – 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 924-3400, or purchase them online.

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Watch a preview video of Red Riding Hood: A New Fable.