October 25, 1999
Currently onstage at Youth Theatre Northwest is an original production, Tall Tales from the Wild West.
Local playwright Richard Painter has created a Wild West adventure story with songs, stereotypes, legends, and a host of eccentric characters. Performed by youth for children and their families, Tall Tales takes audiences on a playful journey to the American frontier as seen through the eyes of spunky fourteen-year-old Jenny Sawbuck and her family.
Jenny is an independent tomboy who'd rather lasso boys than wear bonnets and attend school like her studious sister Samantha. When the Sawbucks hit the wagon trail to seek their fortunes out west, they encounter gamblers, gangs, talking vultures, and gold. They eventually make their home on the range, where newfound freedoms are tested.
YTN's seventeen-member cast puts forth a spirited effort, but this is a young group of performers whose voices are not developed and whom appear awkward with their lines and movements. There are also lengthy scene shifts when the actors are busy pushing what appear to be cumbersome sets on and off the stage.
Although the script has its clever moments, along with some fun tunes, it's overly corny most of the time. In addition, there is unnecessary high-pitched screaming in several scenes, which gets tedious and annoying, as well as grates on the ears of the audience.
After YTN's opening production of Fiddler on the Roof earlier this fall, viewers will be disappointed with the quality of this show. There was a very high level of professionalism present in Fiddler and it was performed by a talented cast who performed their roles with much feeling and panache. Tall Tales could benefit from some script revision and additional rehearsal time for its actors.
The show runs through October 31st. For ticket information, call 206-232-2202.