The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Pippi Longstocking
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show February 20 - March 20, 2016
Reviewer Gerry Camp
Review I had a delightful afternoon Saturday at the opening of Sutter Street Theatre’s latest Family Series production of Pippi Longstocking. Adapted by Thomas W. Olson from Astrid Lindgren’s Swedish children’s classic, this musical version, winningly directed by Allen Schmeltz (who does a brief cameo bit) is great entertainment for children and adults.

Seeing this show got me to thinking about the value of live theatre for children. There are many forms of entertainment available for kids today.  Why should parents bring them to a live theatre performance? Part of the answer, for me, is that being in the same room with kids just like themselves who are obviously having great fun putting on a show allows them to identify with the performers in a way that movies or TV can never do. When fifth grader Adele Trapp as Pippi cartwheels onto Sutter Street’s stage, sings the show’s charming songs, defies unreasonable (to her) adult demands with pure child logic, and wrestles the carnival strong man to the ground, children in the audience can see she’s just a kid like them, and some must think, “Hey, I could do that!”

And yes, Adele Trapp is already a big star. Having played the leads in Annie, Alice in Wonderland, and Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, she holds the stage every moment she is on, which is virtually the entire show. Pippi lives by herself with her pet monkey and pet horse. Her mother is in Heaven and her father, she tells everyone, is a pirate in the south seas. She has a couple of neighbor friends, Tommy and Anneka (Jayce Kaldunski and Summer Allen, both excellent). She is happy living as she lives and sees no value in doing what adults think she should do such as living in an orphanage (she’s not an orphan!) or going to school. The other children in the cast, whether playing smaller parts or joining in ensemble roles, are all good and all obviously having a great time.

The adults in the cast seem perfect. Laura Smith is properly bewildered as Mrs. Prysselius, the child welfare worker, and her one song is beautifully sung. Lindy Mallonee is equally good, both acting and singing, as the schoolteacher. I was especially impressed by Ken Anderson, who has never acted before, in the dual roles as the carnival strong man and as Pippi’s pirate papa. I hope he goes forward as an actor to more substantial parts.

Overall, I think Pippi is one of the best children’s shows in Sutter Street’s family series, and it keeps adults fully entertained throughout. Sutter Street is the only community theatre in the Sacramento area that has live theatre for children of all ages every weekend of the year. I can’t urge parents strongly enough to come frequently to give their children the gift of live theatre.

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