‘Wingspan’ charms with inspiring story about a misunderstood bug | IN REVIEW

Open those wings and take flight over to Whidbey Children’s Theater, where the world premiere of the musical play “Wingspan” is not to be missed.

Alexandra Kurtz as Zoe with Ana Clark as Miss Margaret in Rose Woods musical play 'Wingspan' at Whidbey Children's Theater in Langley.

Open those wings and take flight over to Whidbey Children’s Theater, where the world premiere of  the musical play “Wingspan” is not to be missed.

Enter the world of the newly born Zoe, who can’t understand why she doesn’t quite fit into the vibrantly glamorous world of her four colorful butterfly sisters. Zoe sets off to find her place in the world, attracted by the luminous moon hanging over the Bug-A-Boo Café where beat poet crickets perform in Portugese and an overly-nervous beetle sings about the past. Zoe makes lots of insect friends on her journey and learns about compassion through the many varieties of bug personalities that sometimes clash and sometimes co-mingle in the complex reality of her new world.

With a story and lyrics written by director Rose Woods and music by Robert Marsanyi, the play soars with internal rhymes and funny, unpredictable language within a heartwarming and well-plotted story of an “underbug.” These quirky, complicated and lovable characters fly to life thanks to the stellar performances by a talented cast of youthful actors, who hold their antennae high, even as they sing through some extremely difficult sections of the musical score.

There are so many funny, lovely, cool and clever bugs to meet in the course of Zoe’s awakening, including the lovely butterflies played with beauteous soprano softness by Emma Anastasi, Estlin Coates, Kyli DeMers, Sarah Rodden and Chloe Rose Dickerson; the funky percussive and poetic crickets played outrageously well by Libby Hawkins and Miranda Cassee; the prim and proper and ultimately compassionate ladybugs played excellently by Adah Barenburg and Ana Clark; the very serious bees played with minimalist fortitude by Sabrina Carey and Alohi Elliot; a vegetarian frog played with a dancer’s grace and charm by Caelen Coe; the cafe owners and former rockstar beetles played with the casual cool of Nick Etzell and the accomplished character acting of Chloe Hood; the too cool for their motorcycle jacket dragonflies played with total attitude by Liam Henny and Cedar Stephens; the shy but artistic little beetle played with aplomb by the sweet-voiced Kareena Lasich; the feisty firefly played with an entertaining perkiness and energy by Margeaux Scholz; and the wise elder moth acted with Zen-like stillness by Sarah Stone. Special kudos go to Alexandra Kurtz as the misunderstood moth, Zoe, whom this actor embues with a naturalness and amiability that grounds the story so that even the smallest theater-goer will understand Zoe’s plight.

Woods again finds the magic formula to keep the play moving at a pleasant pace, while gleaning meaningful performances from her young players.  And Melanie Lowey must be mentioned for the excellent make-up, Marsanyi and vocal director Matt Bell for lots of great musical bits and, finally, Aloria Lanshaw, whose outstanding costumes make the entire cast wonderful to watch.

Take the kids to this one, they’ll love it.

The final performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 23 and 24, and at 2 p.m. March 25 at Whidbey Children’s Theater in Langley. (Due to popular demand, the show may be extended one weekend; call the theater for details.) Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for students.

Call the box office at 221-2282.


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