by Margaretha Heidel
Hoboken’s Mile Square Theatre brings us a fun, frolicking show for the little kiddies in your household that you won’t want to miss!
“The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi” is Y. York’s adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling tale about a mongoose that is adopted by a family living in India. Mongoose in this area are known to be particularly useful in killing Cobra and protecting humans from the venomous snakes.
Since this is a show for the little ones, snake killing and other hazardous life/death elements have been changed up for song and dance in a marvelous chase scene, beautifully directed by Chris O’Connor. Add to it a luscious set by Jen Price Fick, evoking India and gardens—verdant, colorful and richly represented. Noteworthy costumes complement the set and deserve a mention. The characters’ warm playfulness marry so well with these, as they appear to be dressed and comfy as any small child would want their play clothes to be. Indeed, the children in the audience were very much ready to jump in with comments about the action, as the characters were so accessible.
Blaire Brooks (Darzee) begins the show, charismatically introducing her fine feathered self and showcasing her beautiful garden when she suddenly realizes a stranger is afoot. Quite literally. We then meet Rikki (for short short) Rikki Tikki (for short) er… Rikki Tikki Tavi, who bounds into the scene like some Tiggers we may have met previously. Arguably the nicest Mongoose you might ever know, Rikki takes a liking to Darzee that isn’t exactly welcome (go back to the part where this is her Garden!)
After, we meet ChuChu, accepted friend of Darzee, who takes her crumbs with aplomb and whatever else is available to her. Played with aw shucks naivete by Arielle Legere, she is an instant friend of the audience. Darzee enlists accepted friend ChuChu to get rid of Rikki until a bigger problem presents- Nag, the most villainous singing/dancing Cobra, again, that you will ever know. With fabulous facial expressions calling up memories of Vincent Price movies, Andrew Baldwin nails being scary and creepy in the best possible children’s theatre way (parents read: no problem, you can bring your kids to this!). Andrew also doubled up playing the owner of the bird (Teddy), showing us the best of his alter ego.
The actors were spot on with their timing and were well in sync with the rigorous physical business required for children’s theatre. They were a delight to behold—almost as fun as watching the kids in the audience rooting for the good guys.
After the show, the audience was invited to ask questions of the actors and take pictures with the stars. What a delightful way to spend an afternoon, right here in town with your little ones.
Catch Rikki Tikki Tavi at Mile Square Theatre on weekends through May 6th. www.milesquaretheatre.org.