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Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title The Reluctant Dragon
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show February 28 - March 22, 2015
Reviewer Gerry Camp
Review

Once upon a time there was a boy named Glaston living in a village in the hills. Glaston loved to read stories of adventure, but most of all he loved to read about dragons. His parents and all the neighbors knew he was the village dragon expert. One day Glastonís father came home very excited, because he had heard there was a real dragon living in a cave up a nearby hill. Everyone knows dragons must be slain because, well, obviously they pose a great danger to humans.

Glaston immediately headed for the dragonís cave to see for himself. He discovered that the dragon was not the ferocious fire-breathing monster the villagers feared, but was in fact a gentle soul who wrote poetry and painted pictures.

The villagers, in the meantime, learned that St. George, the famous dragon slayer, just happened to be in the neighborhood, and they recruited him to rid the hills of this threat to their crops and their lives. Glaston, of course, knew he must avert this threat to his friend, and convinced St. George to meet the dragon he was supposed to slay. St. George and the dragon became immediate friends.

Thatís the setup for the wonderful childrenís play The Reluctant Dragon, adapted for the stage by Mary Hall Surface from the story by Kenneth Grahame, most famous for The Wind in the Willows. Now playing at Sutter Street Theatre on weekend afternoons through March 22, the show, directed by Blake Flores in his directing debut at Sutter Street, is sure to delight children from age five to, well, ninety-five.

The star of the show is frequent Sutter Street performer fourteen-year-old Benjamin Matta as the adventurous Glaston, whose energetic charm never fades. When St. George and the dragon agree that they must fight because thatís ďjust what we do,Ē Glaston is the one who thinks up the way this can happen but still lead to a happy ending.

The dragon, played by Vanessa Voetsch in Eileen Beaverís fantastic dragon costume, will win the hearts of even the youngest members of the audience. John Hopkins as St. George never seems much of a threat to the dragon, and turns out to be a nice fellow who doesnít really relish his dragon-slayer reputation. Ryan Norton as Glastonís father and Lori Ackerman as his mother are pleasantly bewildered by the whole dragon threat, as are the other villagers played by Lisa Matta (Benjaminís mom), Ally Dietz, and Jake Honnold.

Like most childrenís stories, The Reluctant Dragon has a lesson to be learned by its young audience. The message is a good one, ďDonít believe the stereotypes people tell you about who should be your enemy. Get to know for yourself, for even the most evil-seeming beast might really be a gentle soul who can become a wonderful friend.Ē But this moral is not preached in an obvious way, itís just embedded in a delightful story kids are sure to enjoy. Bring the whole family to Sutter Streetís The Reluctant Dragon for an afternoon of fun.

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