Review: 'Rosalynde & the Falcon' from Talespinner Children's Theatre


If you’re an adult, see if you can get a child you know to take you to this show designed for kids. Because it is one hilarious romp from start to finish, thanks to a charming and whip-smart script by local playwright David Hansen and a cast that is having so much fun, you begin to bemoan the fact that it will ever stop.

But it does stop, after 50 minutes, and it leaves you with that floaty feeling you get when stepping off a roller coaster. By the way, all the little ones in the audience loved it too.

Based on an English folktale, young Rosalynde (a charming and feisty Shayla Gordon) is under the thumb of her evil uncle, the King (the imposing Christopher Walker who also doubles later on as various women). The big meanie is forcing his niece to clean out the filthy stables…with a teaspoon! So she runs away from her royal prison and meets up with three thieves in the forest. These robbers look suspiciously like the Marx Brothers, right down to Groucho’s bushy mustache and Harpo’s curly wig and many-pocketed trench coat.

Named after the brothers’ birth names, Charles Hargrave as Julius does a nice deadpan turn as Groucho and Tim Pringpuangkeo as Leo has loads of fun as Chico. The Harpo character is named Rusty (not Adolph, Harpo's real birth name), for a reason to be revealed later, and Valerie C. Kilmer is an absolute stitch. She whips all sorts of props out of her coat, including the ever-present horn, and fixes the audience with that Harpo stare and smile. The thieves offer to help Rosalynde and she adopts a disguise as the Robin Hood-like Falcon, the savior of the poor.

Lithe and non-ambiguously fey Devon Turchan is a comic goldmine as Roland, the King’s son and Rosalynde's longtime pal and cousin. Leaping across the stage like a graceful, slightly less demented Ed Grimley, Turchan’s Roland is unfailingly optimistic but endearingly daft, and you literally can’t take your eyes off him.

Thanks to Hansen’s wit, the script manages to entertain young and old alike with a clever merging of various storylines, along with contemporary references and meta-gags. Director Alison Garrigan keeps the show motoring at a sugar-rush pace, with the help of movement coach Stephanie Wilbert. And Garrigan adds her signature masks and puppetry, aided by designer Melanie Boeman.

If you haven’t sampled Talespinner yet, this is the perfect show to take your kids to see because they’ll have a blast, especially when they find out what's hiding under Rusty's top hat. And you may want to sneak back to see it again for yourself, just to make sure you caught all the jokes.

Rosalynde & the Falcon
Through April 19 at Talespinner Children’s Theatre, the Reinberger Auditorium, 5209 Detroit Avenue, 216-264-9680.

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