Northwest NEWS

November 23, 1998


SCT's 'Cricket' is heart-warming fable

by Deborah Stone

   The Cricket in Times Square, a new musical from the talented duo of Timothy Mason and Mel Marvin, is currently delighting audiences at Seattle Children's Theatre. Mason and Marvin, creators of SCT's last season's hit production Mr. Popper's Penguins, have returned with a show based on author George Selden's classic story of a cricket and his adventures in New York.

   The play is centered on Chester, a country cricket with an ear for opera, who accidentally lands in Times Square. He meets Mario Bellini, a young boy dealing with adolescent angst, and his family, who run a not-very-profitable newsstand, and learns the ways of the big city with the help of Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat, two savvy urban creatures. When Chester's musical talents are discovered, the struggling Bellini newsstand becomes the most popular spot in New York.

   The Cricket in Times Square is a heart-warming tale of friendship, understanding, and self-discovery. It is set in a world full of contrasts: a city mouse and cat befriend a country cricket; an adolescent boy finds an insect to confide in; and Western opera meets Chinese opera.

   Opera plays a major part in the production, and for many children, this may be their first exposure to this style of music. Strains of beautiful Italian opera drift in and out of the scenes, sometimes as background music, other times as a focal point. The use of Chinese opera, complete with elaborate costumes and make-up, is a particular highpoint of the show and is nicely integrated to show the importance of the cricket in Chinese mythology.

   Although Chester's actual physical size is quite small, it is his soul that takes on big proportions to symbolize courage and truth. Actor Jacob Fishel does a solid job of expressing Chester's soul with a contrasting mix of sweet naivete and ageless insight. Mama and Papa Bellini, Leslie Law and Allen Galli, aptly fit their roles as the overbearing, perpetually worried Italian parents from the Old Country. It is, however, David Silverman, as Tucker Mouse, who steals the show with his wonderful expressions, voice, and mannerisms, as well as his gift for comedic timing.

   The Cricket in Times Square runs through January 23rd. For ticket information, call 206-441-3322.