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Humor for Young and Old in ‘Rumpelstiltskin’

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Only one person earns a “happily ever after” ending in the Imagination Station’s zany stage adaptation of “Rumpelstiltskin” at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre: the bad-tempered title character himself.

Everyone else gets their just deserts: the favor-currying miller, the greedy king and the miller’s daughter who married him--and who broke her promise to the magical little grump who saved her life by spinning straw into gold.

Despite some unevenness in pace, giggles abound in this fractured fairy tale, performed by a talented, energetic cast using modest black light effects, simple props and lots of verbal and sight gags.

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Jennifer Brandt is onstage narrator and the queen’s resourceful lady-in-waiting; Jake Eberle plays both the gold-hungry King and a funny “List of Names” that the queen quite literally exhausts as she tries to guess her magic benefactor’s name.

Shari Getz is the blase Maiden and Jon Reed, in a long-nosed, commedia dell’arte-style mask, puts his comic talents to good use as Rumpelstiltskin.

Created by Michael Johnston and the ensemble, the good-humored nonsense includes adults. When the queen guesses the name “Achilles,” Reed grabs his ankle and limps. “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar” elicits some fancy mimed basketball moves, while “Dostoevsky,” inspires an exaggerated tragic pose. The troupe also earns laughs for its apparent confusion over who’s who in the beginning, and for its make-believe post-intermission disarray.

The show’s major flaws are the long, anticlimactic pauses after each of three clever black light spinning-wheel segments and ineffective lighting during other black light scenes that washes out the effect.

* “Rumpelstiltskin,” Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, Saturdays, 10 a.m. and noon through March 30, $5 per child; $7 per adult. (310) 828-7519. Running time: 1 hour.

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