Spare Times: For Children
“Stone Soup,” a new musical from Literally Alive Children’s Theater, suggests a few reasons but is particularly intriguing in its proposed solution. Based on a folk tale with variations in several cultures, this adaptation by Michael Sgouros (music) and Brenda Bell (book and lyrics) unfolds during the Revolutionary War. Two weary American soldiers stumble into a town, requesting food. After being roundly refused, one announces that he will make the village a delicious soup that will deplete no one’s cupboard. Its only ingredients? Water and stones (magic ones of course).
Before long, the residents are so mesmerized by his mysterious preparations and his hints that the recipe might be made more scrumptious that they offer to add the very goods they’ve withheld.
Young audience members at a recent performance appeared to enjoy watching grown-ups being duped into selfless acts. (The show includes a small chorus of better-intentioned children.) While one soldier (Dustin Cross) seduces the locals with smooth talk, the other (Eric Fletcher, above with Paige Simunovich) provides broad comic relief, eagerly demonstrating to a skeptic how she can spit out her soup if she dislikes it. Although his buffoonery may make parents wince, theatergoers under 10 will be tickled.
Fortunately, the hourlong show, directed by Carlo Rivieccio, has a subtler side. The women who turn away the soldiers aren’t generic meanies: Sarah, the schoolteacher (Luisa Sabella), misses a beloved brother killed in battle; Grace (Brianna Hurley), a war widow, fears taking risks; and Daphne Louise (Freddi Mack) worries about providing for the town. Ms. Bell’s script makes it clear that burdens should be shared too.
Mr. Sgouros, who presides over a small percussion ensemble, begins his score with period fife-and-drum sounds and later ranges as far afield as jazz. When Ms. Mack as Daphne Louise finally lets down her hair (literally and figuratively), she belts out “Simmer,” a torchy number revealing that it isn’t just the soup that’s warming up.
Like all Literally Alive productions, “Stone Soup” is preceded by an art workshop: each child makes a small clay pot. And lest audiences forget that we too are living in lean times, the company asks them to bring canned goods to be donated to City Harvest. (Saturday and Sunday, workshop at 10 a.m., show at 11, Players Theater, 115 Macdougal Street, near West Third Street, Greenwich Village, 212-352-3101, literallyalive.com; $25 to $40, including workshop.) LAUREL GRAEBER
See The Original Review Here