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Stage Reviews : Thurber’s ‘Many Moons’

Humorist James Thurber, known for his acerbic jabs at the battle between the sexes, also spun magical fairy tales for his own and his young daughter’s amusement. One of these was “Many Moons,” a romp of a story about a spoiled princess and her indulgent father.

Adapted for the stage by Charlotte B. Chorpenning, it’s playing at the Orange County Performing Arts Center’s Founders Hall, performed by South Coast Repertory’s Young Conservatory Players.

Princess Lenore (Kate Duffus) wants the moon, and until she gets it, she’s going to pine away in bed, to the consternation of her father, the King (adult actor Clif Alvey), and the entire kingdom. The King’s Wise Men are no help. Only the lowly Jester (Zen Gesner, a handsome teen who plays a mean trumpet) can show how to make the impossible possible.

The Players’ production, directed by John-David Keller, is good-natured, but uneven. Lost in the young cast’s energetic delivery are the subtleties of Thurber’s finely woven, verbal whimsy. At Saturday’s second performance, the audience grew restless long before the play’s wistful and wise ending.

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As usual, however, the Players, a group of 10- to 17-year-old theater arts trainees, are given a quality setting in which to shine. Dwight Richard Odle’s set is pretty and simple--just the princess’ bed and the king’s swiveling throne. The medieval costumes, on the other hand, are a visual feast for young eyes: lush, witty and multihued.

At 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. The final performances are tonight, 7:30; Saturday-Sunday, 1 and 3:30 p.m. $6. (714) 957-4033.


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