‘The Night Fairy’ at Imagination Stage

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Imagination Stage presents The Night Fairy, based on the book by Laura Amy Schlitz and adapted by John Glore. Jeremy Skidmore directs this imaginative production full of childhood nostalgia. If you ever believed in the magic of fairies, then this show will bring you back to that feeling of warm wonder through the eyes of your child.

(l-r) Tia Shearer (Flory the Fairy) and Ryan Sellers (Peregrine the Bat). Photo by Margot Shulman.
(l-r) Tia Shearer (Flory the Fairy) and Ryan Sellers (Peregrine the Bat). Photo by Margot Shulman.

Scenic Designer Patrick Watkinson creates the night sky in a unique, 3-dimensional way; airy strips of white cloth cross over one another to create a gauzy, ethereal setting against the soft blue lighting, designed by Martha Mountain. Sound Designer Christopher Baine uses effects like crickets and frogs to complete the atmosphere. This peaceful setting is (literally) ripped apart during a violent exchange, and then daytime begins, with soft yellows, vibrant greens, and cheerful birdsongs. This show also relies heavily on projections, designed by Jared Mezzocchi. While for the most part, they are lovely (I can still very clearly see the image of the hummingbird trapped in the spider’s nest– beautiful), I thought that they could also be a little jerky and untidy. Costume Designer Erin Nugent’s visions were fairly simple while staying true to the character’s qualities. The night fairy wears a light blue dress, while the wren wears a loud, orange crushed-velvet dress. My favorite costume was the bat’s, made with sleek, flexible folds of brown fabric.

When Flory (Tia Shearer), a night-fairy, gets attacked by a bat (Ryan Sellers as Peregrine) one evening, her wings are ripped off! Being unable to fly, Flory must use her wits to learn how to survive during the daytime, and makes some unique bonds along the way. The most complex bond is formed with a simple-minded squirrel named Skuggle (Erin Weaver, who delights in this role). As the two find themselves in a power-struggle, (they both need each other, but stubbornly refuse to admit it), their quick back-and-forth banter provides a lot of laughs; “a squirrel is just a rat who can climb trees,””and a fairy is just an overdressed horsefly!” While learning her way around her new life, Flory encounters a number of dangerous, high-stake adventures that help her discover who she really is…and who she isn’t.

The cast here is a talented one! Megan Graves has a scene-stealing moment as a harried, gossipy Wren, then switches into the more serious role as a stoic hummingbird in need. Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan moves beautifully as a graceful spider, only to later hurtle around as an angry raccoon. The character arcs in this story are also well-rounded and interesting…who you thought was a bad guy may have been simply misunderstood. There are a number of different lenses in which to look at something.

While there are some great lessons about character-building and friendship written into this play, the pure whimsy about it was what I enjoyed the most. I loved how Props Designer Andrea Moore played with the scale of the characters by using enlarged objects, such as an acorn used as a suitcase, or a cigarette butt the size of a large burrito (which Skuggle unfortunately finds out tastes nowhere near as good!). People are referred to as “giants,” and are only known through overwhelming shadows and ear-crushing thuds. This is the world of the fairies, and it is a fun place to be!

Erin Weaver (Skuggle the Squirrel). Photo by  Margot Shulman.
Erin Weaver (Skuggle the Squirrel). Photo by Margot Shulman.

I enjoyed myself at Imagination Stage’s production of The Night Fairy. Take in a showing with your little one, then make a fairy garden together afterwards for a fun day of fantasy!

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

The Night Fairy plays through October 26, 2014 at Imagination Stage– 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, MD. For tickets, call (301) 280-1660, or purchase them online.

http://youtu.be/3DWtktKkF-E