‘Double Trouble (AKA The Parent Trap)’ at Imagination Stage

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Imagination Stage presents Double Trouble (AKA The Parent Trap), based on Erich Kastner’s novel, Lottie and Lisa. This production is adapted by David S. Craig, with music by Marc Schubring and orchestration by Nico Gaik. This particular adaptation of the famous story (re-imagined many times over the years, particularly in film) is making its premier at Imagination Stage with direction by Kathryn Chase Bryer and musical direction by Marci Shegogue.

Newly reunited twins Lisa and Lottie concoct a clever plan to switch places and bring their separated parents back together. (L to R: Sarah Lasko and Lauren Williams. Photo by Margot Schulman.
Newly reunited twins Lisa and Lottie concoct a clever plan to switch places and bring their separated parents back together. (L to R: Sarah Lasko and Lauren Williams. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Scenic Designer Misha Kachman does a great job– first with a rustic camp cabin and then with a split set showcasing two homes; one small and cramped, but bright, the other spacious and refined. The sets are extremely well-detailed, down to the handmade arts and crafts tacked to the cabin walls. I especially liked how the stage itself was framed by a mish-mash of childhood objects, meeting in the center with a large photo of young twins that is torn down the middle.

Sound Designer Christopher Baine and Lighting Designer Jason Arnold work together to enhance the atmosphere with buttery sunlight and birds and crickets for the campsite, to name a specific scene.

Costume Designer Debra Kim Sivigny seems to have an easy job of it (camp gear and casual wear, what’s the problem?) until you realize that two individual actresses must play identical twins. By giving the actresses identical wigs and obscuring one of their faces behind a large pair of glasses, it is almost believable that they are identical.

When fun-loving Lisa (Sarah Lasko) meets the nerdy, withdrawn Lottie (Lauren Williams) at summer camp, they can hardly believe their eyes…they are identical! After discovering that their divorced parents separated them, the girls comprise a scheme to take each other’s places so that they can each get to know their long-lost parent…and hopefully reunite them.

This musical is a fun ride– “It’s perfect” incorporates energetic and playful choreography by Sara Herrera-Kopetchny as the girls amp up for their summer vacation.

Lisa and her best friends Steffie (Emily Kester) and Trudy (Justine Moral) are confused and a bit threatened when they first see Lottie, shown in the song “Who is That Girl,” while Lottie brushes off their unfriendly reaction with a proud song about how she’s  “Completely Different” (Williams has a particularly lovely singing voice)  Watching the girls attempt to impersonate the other is very enjoyable and cute, shown in the song “Inseparable.” It’s a lively and fun story that is full of humorous moments…until it suddenly isn’t.

I won’t give away any details, but I will say that this production takes an abrupt, dramatic turn. This shocking new development seemed incredibly out of place, and made the following scene very disjointed. The ending is an altered one, and while I completely agree with the change itself (much more realistic and humbling), I do wish that it was brought upon another way.

Jamie Smithson and Amaree Cluff are great as the girl’s estranged parents, and Justine Moral does a funny turn as Lottie’s bully, Annie.

The reunited family creates a plan for allowing twins Lottie and Lisa to spend more time together: (L to R: Amaree Cluff, Sarah Lasko, Lauren Williams, and Jamie Smithson. Photo by Margot Schulman.
The reunited family creates a plan for allowing twins Lottie and Lisa to spend more time together: (L to R: Amaree Cluff, Sarah Lasko, Lauren Williams, and Jamie Smithson. Photo by Margot Schulman.

The ensemble is made up of great actors who all give solid, entertaining performances. However, one performer was my favorite, and that was Emily Kester, who portrayed two hilariously unique roles. She delivered witty one-liners as the ditzy, vague Steffie, and was a clear audience favorite as Roksana, Lisa’s brusque, suspicious housemaid.

Imagination Stage’s production of Double Trouble (AKA The Parent Trap) is pretty fun. If you enjoyed the movies, then you will enjoy this fresh take on the classic!

Running Time: 90 minutes, without an intermission.

https://youtu.be/qzC1OYENs94

Double Trouble (AKA The Parent Trap) plays through August 14, 2015 at Imagination Stage – 4908 Auburn Avenue, in Bethesda, MD. For tickets, call (301) 280-1660, or purchase them online.

RATING: FOUR-STARS110.gif