Looking for something fun to do to beat the summer heat? Pack up your young pirates for the high-flying circus adventure that is Pippi Longstocking: The Family Musical, presented by City of Fairfax Theatre Company and Truro Anglican Church through July 26th.
If there are any readers unfamiliar with the tale of Pippi Longstocking, the musical focuses on the wild and highly improbable adventures of that red-headed whippersnapper Pippi (played by Bella Lanoue-Chapman and Maggie Slivka in alternating weekends) and her friends Tommy (John Medley/Owen Grannis) and Annika (Lourdes Navarro/Amy Chang). Together, they go to the circus, meet pirates, and avoid thieves and policemen alike.
On opening night, Bella Lanoue-Chapman turned in a spunky and charismatic performance as Pippi. She had a very touching moment in the lullaby sung to her monkey, Mr. Nelson, who was pluckily played by Donovan Lanoue-Chapman.
Choreographer Erik Sampson made good use of his ensemble’s acrobatic and gymnastic skills. The circus scene was especially high energy and entertaining, filled with adorable children playing lions, seals, and dogs. The ensemble members who performed the acrobatic feats really added to the circus atmosphere, particularly the impressive acrobat who did a cartwheel into a flip off of a railing near the stage.
They say never to act with kids and dogs, and Pippi is filled with plenty of talented children. However, Sharon Peterson more than holds her own, turning in a strong comic performance as the villainess Mrs. Prysselius (a role she shares with Judy Zakreski).
Music Director Kirsten Boyd did a lovely job of drawing out strong vocal performances from her youthful cast. The four-piece band lent a professional quality to the performance.
In such a large ensemble cast, it’s hard to single out individual actors. However, Izzy Gaskill and Eva Petersen stood out in their comic performances as Constables Cling and Clang.
Costume Designer Sarah Jackson did a nice job creating costumes that suggest the whimsical nature of the characters that inhabit Pippi Longstocking’s world.
Although Sebastian and Staffan Gotestam’s script is extremely faithful to Astrid Lindgren’s original Pippi Longstocking stories, the musical drags occasionally due to an overabundance of unnecessary plot points. A more streamlined script would have helped maintain the high-energy flow.
There were some rough technical moments during opening night, particularly with sound and pacing. However, I feel confident that Director Matthew Lanoue-Chapman will be able to resolve these issues.
CFTC’s Pippi Longstocking is an enjoyable musical adventure, especially for families with young children. Be sure to arrive half an hour before curtain time to enjoy the circus pre-show activities, including magic shows and face painting.
Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
Online tickets are $10 for adults 13+ and $5 for children under 13. Online tickets may be purchased here. Online ticket sales close at noon on the day of the performance.
Tickets will also be available at the door, and prices are $15 for adults 13+ and $10 for children under 13. For more information, visit their website.
All Pippi Longstocking performances take place at Lanier Middle School — 3801 Jermantown Road, in Fairfax, VA. Performances are: July 18th at 7:30 pm (Pirate Cast); July 19th at 2 pm (Pirate Cast); July 19 at 7:30 pm (Pirate Cast); July 25 at 7:30 pm (Circus Cast); July 26 at 2 pm (Circus Cast); and July 26 at 7:30 pm (Circus Cast).
CFTC Performs Rollicking ‘Pippi Longstocking: The Family Musical’ July 18-26, 2014 at Lanier Middle School on DCMetroTheaterArts by Diane Jackson Schnoor.