Theater Preview: A mouse is in the house

There’s a mouse in the house this weekend and next — very old mouse actually, born in 1945 as a literary cousin of Charlotte the barnyard spider.

“Stuart Little: A Musical Fantasy” is the Laguna Playhouse’s youth theater production, opening tonight for a two-weekend engagement as the latest incarnation of the story created at the end of World War II by E.B. White, best known for the children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web.”

Stuart, as most kids (and many adults) are aware, is a little mouse, just two inches tall, who’s “born” into the Frederick C. Little family in New York. He’s a determined underdog trying to survive in a real people’s world.

“Yes, ‘Stuart Little’ is now a musical,” says Donna Inglima, director of the playhouse’s Youth Theater, who’s staging the production. “It should come as no surprise that this beloved story would be made into a play (in 1973) and then into a musical.”


The White book has been adapted by Joseph Robinette, with music by Ronna Frank.

“The Laguna Playhouse Youth Theater is fortunate to get the rights to produce this ‘cuter than a mouse’ piece of delicious storytelling that features absolutely adorable songs and crazy characters,” the director adds.

“It’s also interesting to note that E.B. White has written a story that’s immersed in a world that combines human and animal interaction long before Gary Larson’s (Far Side) cartoon strips became so prevalent and popular,” Inglima said.

As is the case with all youth theater productions at the playhouse, “Stuart Little” will receive a full professional staging. This show is one of a two-play subscription series of plays and musicals based on popular books or stories aimed primarily for children of elementary and middle school ages.


“The staff for each production is drawn principally from the playhouse’s Youth Conservatory Program,” Inglima explains. “Open casting is ‘age-appropriate,’ which means that young people play young people in the plays with content similar to G or PG-rated movies.”

Youngsters (and their parents) attending “Stuart Little” this weekend and next will be treated to musical numbers such as “Paddle Your Own Canoe,” “Feed Him Up,” “Size” and “Nighttime in New York.”

The latter is sang by a quartet of cats.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.