'Prince's' Good-Natured Message

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The breezy, hurdy-gurdy hustle and bustle of the Santa Monica Pier is the offbeat, but appealing site of the lively "The Prince Who Wouldn't Talk," by James Brock, at the Waterfront Stage.

The pleasantly shabby theater, redolent of cotton candy and popcorn, becomes home to a comical king and queen, three eccentric wizards, a sulky prince and a fair young maiden. It's a Story Theater-style fairy-tale with a message: if parents want their children to talk to them, they must learn to listen.

The Prince (Anthony Mazzola) is tired of being talked over, ignored and cut off, so he has decided to say nothing at all--ever. The tactic gets the attention of his parents, the King (MOYNi) and Queen (Dell Phinium), but they don't realize they're the problem--they call in the wizards (Lawrence Levy, Joseph Sestay and John Blevins) to find out what's wrong.

The wizards pronounce their misdiagnoses and institute various treatments, succeeding in getting the prince to honk like a horn, sing a lullaby that puts his parents instantly to sleep, and to just say "yes," causing the King to wonder how he'll be able to tell his son from the rest of his court. It's up to a fair young maiden (Katherine Burke) to set things straight.

On the minimal set, director Frederique Michel keeps the action moving and the professional cast, including narrator C. Duncombe, is good-natured and energetic, with MOYNi's hearty King serving as its comic linchpin. It's a mostly light, amusing debut for the Waterfront Stage's new children's matinee series, weakened slightly by sketchy audience interaction--the cast doesn't seem altogether comfortable with it.

At 250 Santa Monica Pier , Saturdays and Sundays, 2:30 p.m. , through June 9 . $5; (213) 393-6672.

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