December 10, 2001
5th Ave's 'Prince' charms and captivates audiences of all ages
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Reviews
The world premiere production of "The Prince & the Pauper" recently opened at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
This charming musical with its fresh, melodic score, by Judd Woldin and Marc Elliot, colorful staging and lively, spirited acting makes the ideal family entertainment for the holiday season.
The show, an adaptation of Mark Twain's classic and beloved novel, tells the humorous tale of identity-swapping between young Prince Edward VI (Asher Monroe Book) and a penniless pauper named Tom Canty (Cameron Bowen).
The two boys accidentally meet and exchange places to discover what it's like to walk in another's shoes. Through a series of adventures and life lessons, pauper Tom learns how to be a king and Prince Edward learns the worth of a common man.
Timeless and timely messages of tolerance, friendship and hope resound throughout this production giving rise to an understanding that all of us deep inside are really just the same. "The Prince & the Pauper" easily captivates because it is action-packed and full of humor.
The musical score is a rich tapestry of styles, including jazz, gospel, blues and baroque.
The two adolescent actors, Book and Bowen, are delightful in their roles. Each boy brings his character to life with a contagious exuberance. They have enormous fun on stage and display great comic flair. In the role of Lord Hertford, a court schemer, Alan Coats makes the perfect villain, elegant in his sly, underhanded approach.
Marc Kudisch, as Miles Hendon, an exiled soldier who befriends Prince Edward, steals many a scene with his powerhouse voice and commanding stage presence. Hendon is a coward in disguise and a drunk, who somehow manages to impart morality and human decency to the Prince.
Mobile sets by G.W. Mercier cleverly create gates, bridges and scenes of Old London, providing the appropriate backdrops for the contrasting elements of the lives of the royals and of those in the streets.
It is 5th Avenue Theatre's hope that "The Prince & the Pauper" becomes a new musical tradition and eventually heads to Broadway. It definitely has all the ingredients necessary to fulfill these dreams.
"Prince & the Pauper" runs through Dec. 15. For ticket information call (206) 292-ARTS.