Singer/puppeteer Lois Young was scatting a jazz number from her new children's musical "The Lois Young Show" at the Back Alley Theatre when an impressed grown-up in the audience murmured to his companion, "This woman is very talented."
No argument here.
Her new solo song-and-puppet revue in a magic toy shop setting is a delight for preschoolers, older children and parents, thanks to Young's whimsical imagination and singular vocal talents.
In the show, written and conceived by Young and Robert A. Higgins, Young needs to buy her friend a gift, but she's too late;the toy shop is closed (Jim Stilsen did the charming set;Lawrence Oberman designed the cozy lighting).
Myrtle the Magician (the one puppet Young doesn't operate herself;its voice is hers, recorded), lets her in with a magic word and the toys come to life.
There's Baby Jazz, the scatting baby doll in shades;tongue-tied, shaggy Ziggy; shy bird Feathers;ticklish Bryan Bear;sleepy Lambie and sneezy Edgar. Each encounter means a sweet, funny or thoughtful original song that Young sings in a range of styles and voices about what it feels to be a child.
One by one, the toys teach Young that gifts aren't just material things, but also such intangibles as appreciation, sharing, consideration, comfort and humor.
Part of Young's appeal is that she respects her young audience and effortlessly includes them from beginning to end. Without it affecting the show's fluid timing, she responds to their responses, has them interact with the puppets, gives them key words to say and lyrics to sing and act out.
(It's a situation where the unexpected is expected. At Sunday's show, one small boy wanted Young to know that "I always say excuse me when I burp.")
Some of the songs and puppets will be familiar to those who saw Young's "Pancakes" musical last year. That show, with its high-tech "talking" Tune Buggy, was a treat. This one is even better.
At 15231 Burbank Blvd. , Van Nuys; Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. through May 14. Tickets:$6.50. (818)780-2240.