Wednesday, February 11, 2015

reviews - THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES - Valley Youth Theatre

For more information on this production, that runs through February 22nd, click here.

 "In a departure from its regular style of established productions, VYT has taken a gamble.   David Chorley has come up with a fresh script with fresh ideas, and even though many of the jokes are stinkers – intentionally, by the way – they’re presented with a fresh flair and an energetic vitality by a large, young cast with one intention; to make its audience laugh.  VYT’s The Emperor’s New Clothes is an official premiere, a never-before-seen comedy written by director Chorley who has approached the story as if writing a script for a Hanna-Barbera cartoon TV special.  The show is a flat-out gag fest, a fast-paced comedy designed specifically for VYT and its available cast that zips from scene to scene at a breakneck speed complete with groaners, belly-laughs and running gags with great payoffs.  The jokes fly around like circling planes waiting to land during rush hour at Sky-Harbor Airport; they come thick and fast, often accompanied by their own soundtrack.  David Chorley’s very funny new script tends to be better than his direction.  Occasionally there’s a sense of discipline missing in the staging of a gag – from time to time, lines are buried and voices are lost as if forgetting to project to the back row – plus, despite the speed with which each scene furthers the story, the conclusions always end with a fade to black.  Without the in-built breaks, the end result would appear sharper, plus, with a tighter control of the show’s flow, the speed would make the gags fly even faster. Special mention has to go to Karol Cooper for her sparkling costume designs.  True, most of the characters are intentionally drab when compared to the emperor, but when the royal one dons his dazzling coat of many colors, even Joseph would be jealous." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"The classic Hans Christian Andersen children's fable The Emperor's New Clothes is receiving a brand new comical adaptation from Valley Youth Theatre. With just a few small shortcomings, this world premiere production is an absolute joy. David Chorley's new script adds a fun new spin to the famous story, and the talented cast and solid creative elements combine to bring Andersen's tale of a vain Emperor who cares for nothing more than parading about in his clothes to colorful life.  The cast is quite good, with Wil Arends perfect in his ability to prance about the stage and throw temper tantrums as the selfish Emperor, and Ian Gray a complete natural as PJ. Both have a lot to do in the show and, considering that he is just in the third grade, Gray is especially impressive in his theatrical abilities. Katy Sprowls, as the Emperor's feisty younger sister Praline, is a gifted comic actress and the many scenes she and Arends have together are some of the play's best.  The great thing about Chorley's adaptation is that it not only has an ongoing abundance of comic bits and gags but also some original ideas that enrich the Andersen tale as well as the overall theatrical experience. These include having PJ's father give him and his sister imaginary toys to play with, since they don't have the funds to buy real toys. When the scoundrels see PJ's sister jumping an imaginary rope it gives them the idea for the imaginary clothes. Chorley also directs the production and provided the fun and upbeat sound design. While, for the most part, his direction works with assured performances from each of his cast, some punchlines are rushed or not projected clear enough, and his decision to have black outs for each scene change not only stops the show repeatedly but also means the audience's applause covers the beginning of some of the narration. Also, the play could be trimmed a bit as there are a few subplots that don't add much to the overall impact. Creative elements are excellent and simple, yet work perfectly with the story. Karol Copper's costumes are quite effective, with her muted designs for the members of Rainbow Valley a nice counterpoint to the outlandish colorful ensembles she has created for the Emperor.  Even with a few moments that don't quite work, Chorley and his talented cast have achieved quite a successful production with plenty of original ideas and funny moments. And the important message that it's what is inside a person that counts and not what he wears on the outside is something that children of all ages should be reminded of." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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