By Heidi Sutton
Every year Theatre Three’s children’s theater presents audience favorites like “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” and “Barnaby Saves Christmas.” However, every five years or so, the theater retrieves an old gem from its vault and brings it out for some air. Sometimes it’s “The Golden Goose,” sometimes it’s “The Three Little Pigs.” This week it was “Raggedy Ann & Andy’s” turn.
Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin Story and suggested by the characters created by Johnny Gruelle, Theatre Three’s version of “Raggedy Ann & Andy” brings America’s most endearing rag dolls to life in a heart-warming musical about friendship and loyalty.
A talented cast of 10 adult actors, skillfully directed by Sanzel, whisks the audience away on a magical adventure to Tiwilliger’s Toy Workshop on an enchanted mountain and introduces them to the toys living there — a clown, a tin soldier, a queen wind-up doll, a lion and a rag doll named Raggedy Ann — all of whom, with the exception of the tin soldier, have been some child’s toy at one time or another.
When it’s Raggedy Ann’s turn to bring joy to a sick little girl named Marcella, toymakers Martha and Abby Tiwilliger decide to make her a brother to take along using magic from the mountain. Their evil brother Mortimer finds out and, along with his reluctant assistant Rose Carpet, tries to stop them in an attempt to keep the magic for himself. When his sisters decide to go ahead with their plan and create Raggedy Andy, Mortimer steals Andy’s heart, leaving the rag doll in a stupor.
The toys decide to go on a mission to find Mortimer and get Andy’s heart back. Will they save the day or will they be trapped in the Circle of Darkness?
Costumes, designed by Teresa Matteson, are on point, with special detail to the authenticness of Raggedy Ann and Andy’s outfits, and choreography is handled neatly by the one and only Bobby Montaniz.
There’s something very sweet and innocent about this musical. Perhaps it’s the types of toys, reminiscent of the mid-20th century, or the wonderful songs, accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy. Either way, the play is the perfect choice for younger audiences. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for photos.
Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Raggedy Ann & Andy” through March 25. Up next is the spring break favorite, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit,” from April 12 to May 6 with a sensory-friendly performance on April 23 followed by “The Princess & the Pea” from May 27 to June 10 with a sensory-friendly performance on June 4. All shows begin at 11 a.m. Tickets are $10 per person. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.