Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
freeFall's performing space suffered some damage (quickly under repair) during Hurricane Irma, so The Little Prince is being staged in a space that was once used for worship. What might have been a severe liability has turned into an asset as Artistic Director and director Eric Davis has brought his always fascinating sense of space to this production, which is simply staged on a podium that was once an altar, with a flat at the rear with two doorways, and a turntable that delivers simple set pieces on and off for high theatrical effectiveness. The realization of the Fox will stay in my memory for many moons. I overheard one child tell someone that she felt the show "magical." I will second that opinion.
One decision that needs to be made in producing this piece is whether to cast a child or an adult in the title role. An adult will better capture his mysteriousness while a child will bring the realism of youth. For freeFall, that decision is an easy one, with the availability of Will Garrabrant, who has graced the stage in so many performances at this company (Little Patrick in Mame, the Dauphin in Marie Antoinette, Tiny Tim, Assassins and more) that I feel I am pretty much watching the young man grow up before my eyes. He has solid presence, can clearly deliver and project his extensive dialogue and is simply perfect casting. I would not be surprised if he was part of the reason this story was chosen. Michael David cuts a handsome figure as the Aviator, focused and task driven in a fine performance. Trenell Mooring is a delight as Rose, Snake and Fox, assisted by dancer/choreographer Carolina Esparza. Logan Wolfe plays Men on the Planets in a whimsical, winning portrayal.
As if his fine directing isn't enough of a contribution, Eric Davis has also contributed fine costumes, video design, and sound design. I found myself drawn into the sonic palette which seems exactly right to layer a modest French sensibility on the whole affair. Set and properties design is by Nickolas Mathis (also technical director), and the excellent lighting is by by Cody Basham.
The Little Prince does not have any specific connection to Christmas, but any production with strong appeal to families as well as the usual theatergoing audiences is reason enough to celebrate at freeFall Theatre this season. It proves to be a great way to kick off my own holiday season of theatergoing.
freeFall Theatre Company presents The Little Prince through December 24, 2017, at 6099 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg FL. For ticket and performance information, visit www.freefalltheatre.com.
Cast (in alphabetical order):