‘The Magic Finger’ at Imagination Stage by Julia L. Exline


Imagination Stage presents Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger, adapted for the stage by David Wood and directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer. Young Lucy has a magical finger that doles out justice when she gets angry…but when the magic goes too far, can Lucy save the situation?

Lucy (Megan Graves) wields her magic finger. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Lucy (Megan Graves) wields her magic finger. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Scenic Designer Milagros Ponce de Leon creates a dual-leveled house frame – much like a life-sized dollhouse, interior rooms are shown, as if one side of the house was removed. A garden fence covered with flowery vines and a paper-mache apple tree help complete the country farm setting. Lighting Designer Cory Ryan Frank and Sound Designer Christopher Baine work together to create effects like thunder storms, as well as the electric flashes and zaps that happen when Lucy uses her magic finger. To help enhance the fantastical elements of the story, Costume Designer Kendra Rai uses vibrant colors and bold patterns for the characters, and the larger-than-life duck costumes are a sight to see!

Audience interaction is a key player right from the get-go, as an angry man begins to chase his dog throughout the audience. When he finally catches him, the man raises a stick as if to hit it, when Lucy (Megan Graves) jumps onstage and demands that he stop. When he does not, she shoots power from her magic finger—wherein the man becomes the dog, and the dog, his owner. She explains this phenomenon to the audience, and begins to tell her story.

When Lucy is angered by an offensive scenario, her finger serves justice. This usually fares out well, for example, in a playful scene where her nasty teacher Mrs. Winter (Lauren Du Pree) is turned into a cat after chastising Lucy for misspelling the word. However, one day while visiting her friend William Gregg’s (Matthew Schleigh) country home, Lucy is disgusted when she discovers that him and his family (Eric Messner as Mr. Gregg and Leigh Jameson as Mrs. Gregg) hunt ducks for sport. Her finger does its thing, and the Gregg family is transformed…

The scenario is a ridiculous one – and also extraordinarily funny. Highlights of the show include scenes where the duck family: Phillip Reid (Master Duck), Lauren Du Pree (Mrs. Duck), and Joe Brack (Mr. Duck) attempt to acclimate themselves to their new home, getting tangled up in toilet paper or their bills caught in cereal boxes. The Greggs are adjusting as well – to the idea of eating worms and living in a nest! Can Lucy remedy this wild outcome?

I loved everything about this production – from the strong performances and beautiful scenery to the excellent comedic timing. The Gregg’s haughty English accents added to the hilarity, and Impressive rod puppets designed by Matthew McGee were a wonderful component. The ensemble worked together flawlessly, which I’m sure is due to Kathryn Chase Bryer’s wonderful direction.

(L to R) Lucy (Megan Graves) and William (Matthew Schleigh) feed the birds. Bird puppeteers L to R: Lauren Du Pree and Joe Brack. Photo by Margot Schulman.

(L to R) Lucy (Megan Graves) and William (Matthew Schleigh) feed the birds. Bird puppeteers L to R: Lauren Du Pree, and Joe Brack. Photo by Margot Schulman.

I had a great time at The Magic Finger – and so will you!

Running Time: 90 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

The Magic Finger plays through June 2, 2013 at Imagination Stage – 4908 Auburn Avenue, in Bethesda, MD. Purchase tickets by calling (301)280-1660, or order them online.

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