Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

‘Sword’ a crowning delight

The Glendale Centre Theatre faithfully provides season after season

of original children’s theater, to complement its regular comedy/

musical fare meant for the over-21 crowd.

In its latest offering, “The Sword in the Stone,” adaptor/writer


Craig Sabin isn’t particularly tied down to any part of the old

legend of Merlin the Magician and Young Wart (soon to be King

Arthur), other than making sure that Wart gets that sword out of that

big, heavy stone. So, the field is wide open for a little zany fun.


Get ready for the puns, the “Valley girl” talk and the rock music.

In this retelling, the wishy-washy Wart (sweetly and gently played

by Jeremy Williams) isn’t half as interesting as his friends or his

foes. His teacher, Merlin, (Mario Di Gregorio with just the right

amount of whimsy) is the perfect mentor, kind and wise, if a little

distracted in having to live backwards from the future.

“One day, there will be a king in California,” Merlin remembers,

“Named Ahhhrnoold.”


One of Wart’s co-apprentices is a pretty, and pretty nifty, young

tomboy named Kate, (the marvelous Michelle Ann Owens) ready to take

on the dreaded Black Knight at the drop of a sheath.

“Tell you what, Knighty,” Kate suggests, “Get on your horse and

leave now and I won’t whip you so bad.”

Wart’s other co-apprentice, Tom, (Kent Skates, clearly getting

ready to take on Robin Williams) is just plain goofy, especially when

it comes to the kind of hero worship that he holds for the evil Black


Knight. And of course, the Black Knight himself (played with a proper

delight in his devilishness by Damien Gravino) can’t stand the idea

of giving Tom an autograph.

Director Erin Villaverde has done a good job of staging in the

incredibly versatile postage stamp that serves all the company’s

panorama of shows. Kudos to fight choreographer Andrew Villaverde and

song choreographer Paul Reid for having all those swords out and

ready, without threatening the lives of a single soul in the front


The pacing in the first act could use a little pulling together. A

highlight of the special effects, uncredited in the program, were the

smoke on stage and the lighting effects when the sword and the stone

finally separate to reveal Wart as the destined King of England.

So, get the little ones familiar with live theater. This is a

great place to start.

* MARY BURKIN is an actress, playwright and lawyer who loves

taking her two little girls to the theater. They love it, too.