‘The Enchanted Bookshop’ at Encore Stage & Studio

Encore Stage & Studio’s polished and playful production of The Enchanted Bookshop is funtertainment for the whole family!

The Enchanted Bookshop plays through January 20 at Encore Stage & Studio. Photo courtesy of Encore Stage & Studio.

The Enchanted Bookshop by Todd Wallinger tells the magical tale of Margie, the absent-minded owner of a bookstore called A Likely Story, and the book characters who come alive in the bookstore but must remain out of sight to remain animated. Due to the advent of the internet and digital entertainment, Margie is struggling to keep the bookstore alive. The book characters, including Tom Sawyer, Heidi, Sherlock Holmes, Pollyanna, Robin Hood, and Dorothy and Toto, want to help Margie but have to do so without being seen.

Encore Stage & Studio’s production of The Enchanted Bookshop exquisitely incorporates the talent of 26 child actors on stage, with even more helping out behind the scenes, keeping with the company’s motto, “Theatre by Kids, for Kids!” Kudos to Director Sarah Conrad for coaching the cast and crew to put on a fast-paced and entertaining show.

The Enchanted Bookshop plays through January 20 at Encore Stage & Studio. Photo courtesy of Encore Stage & Studio.

The actors delivered their lines in a conversational and relational manner as if they were actually present in the world of The Enchanted Bookshop, which invited the audience into the experience. Whether Xander Tilock (Tom Sawyer) was smirking, riposting Sydney Payne’s enthusiastically annoying portrayal of Pollyanna, or shooting his slingshot, he did them all with perfect timing. Kylen Davis (Heidi) spoke Denglish with a marvelous German accent, “Vat means zis vord, tornado?” Rachel Knox (Fingers) and Juli Walitt (Toes) delivered expertly timed non-sequiturs to convey their hilarious incompetence. Riley Dennis (Long John Silver) shone in his cameos as he listened intently to the secret advice from pet parrot Captain Flint and directed pirate epithets like “Scallywags,” toward the other characters. And Catalina Coronado (Bomba) and Clara Jadwin (Lurina), as mother cat and kitten, conveyed a surprising amount of emotion and meaning with only their meows.

The costumes and makeup, by Debra Leonard and Isabel Tate, were fabulous. Heidi (Kylen Davis) wore a German dirndl and her hair was coiffed in double braids haloed around her head; Dorothy’s (Emmie Vajda) costume was complete from the blue and white checkered pinafore to the blue bows in her twin braids; and Robin Hood (Alexandra Matheny) was authentically dressed in a green tunic, black tights, and a bycoket hat.

Encore Stage & Studio’s production of The Enchanted Bookshop is a crowd-pleaser that mixes expert staging, dialogue, delivery and humor into a captivating show.

Running Time: Approximately one and a half hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

The Enchanted Bookshop plays through January 20, 2019, at Encore Stage & Studio performing at Gunston Arts Center – 2700 S. Lang St. in Arlington, VA. Purchase tickets online.

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Betsy Lizotte
Betsy Lizotte is a retired Army veteran who has had the fortuity to serve in some fascinating places like Djibouti, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. While on active duty, she wrote and edited a plethora of prosaic paperwork that helped her to hone her expository writing skills. A recent graduate of Marymount University’s writing program she is currently enrolled in American University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Fiction. Her hobbies are SCUBA diving, snorkeling, walking in the woods, reading, writing and watching comedies, most of which she does with her family and three miniature dachshunds. She is so grateful for the opportunity to review theater productions at DCMTA.