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,
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.