Monday, August 23, 2010
Masks, music and monkey kings, oh my!
Those were some of the on-stage highlights at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, as BOXTALES Theatre Company presented Indian fable "Rama & the Monkey King" to a morning audience of parents and kids.
As part of the Big!World!Fun! family series at the Ford Amphitheatre, the three-man troupe from Santa Barbara told the story of a respected prince who loses his wife to a demon and must band with a monkey king to help get her back. The three actors donned various masks (some scarier than others), adopted all manner of voices and used their bodies to gymnastic effect to tell what is really a classic story.
This was our first trip to the Amphitheatre, and my initial thought was: I wish I had brought CC sooner. The series, which began July 3 and has featured a circus troupe, dancing, storytelling and drumming, will conclude on Saturday, August 28 with a presentation from LA Opera.
The setting is perfect for parents and kids alike. Morning is a must, as the sun over the outdoor theatre can be sweltering. Smartly, the Amphitheatre provides a large, flowing tent to shield the audience so we don't burn.
Before the show we attended, The Autry museum hosted crafts for kiddos on the terrace outside the theater. Not only that, but what I also appreciated was the performers' respect for the children's ages. One of the actors came on stage before the one-hour play started to show the kids the scariest mask but also to reassure them that the actors didn't really want to scare them.
That helped because CC had no fear whatsoever, and I was a little worried in the beginning.
While I wondered if the story might be a little mature for CC, she kept her eyes on stage the entire time and asked questions throughout the show. "Where's the woman? Where's Sita?" she asked of the stolen wife, embodied by a large puppet.
Big!World!Fun! is recommended for children ages 4-10 (whose admission is free, btw), but I saw a range of ages at the BOXTALES performance. The setting is happy and casual and understanding of all the needs that come with having little ones -- such as bathroom breaks and talking out loud.
Another plus is that we got to meet the performers after the show, who were generous and eager to show CC their beautiful masks.
Note: Press tickets were provided.
John Anson Ford Amphitheatre
2580 Cahuenga Blvd., East
Hollywood, CA 90068
Big!World!Fun! (Saturdays at 10 a.m.; final performance -- Aug. 28)
Tickets: Adults ($5) Children (Free)