Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Based on Margery Williams' poignant children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit focuses on a young boy and the new stuffed toy rabbit with rich velveteen fur he receives as a Christmas present. While the rabbit is snubbed by both the fellow toys in the boy's bedroom and the real rabbits outside, he is told that the love of the boy could magically make him become real. But when the boy becomes ill it threatens not only the rabbit's future but the child's as well.
Running just a little over an hour, Scott Davidsons adaptation doesnt overstuff the simple story of this stuffed rabbit, which is a huge asset. The short running time makes this show a perfect first theatrical experience for younger theatregoers. Director Rick Davis keeps the sappiness at bay and ensures his cast does as well, which results in a poignant, moving production that is full of humor and heart.
The majority of the small cast play multiple parts including serving as narrators of the tale. Donna Kaufman shows warmth and understanding as the boy's Nana and J. Kevin Tallent evokes a pure sense of old age wisdom as the boy's oldest toy, a skin horse, who is the sensible voice of reason. Ausette Anderies is hilarious and joyful as the squeaky-voiced toy mouse while Macy Morgan is stoic and aloof as the toy train. Isaac Speyer is rambunctious and sweet as the young boy and Keaton Honaker projects a keen sense of awe and determination as the self-conscious and questioning Velveteen Rabbit.
The smart set design works well as it simply portrays the interior and exterior locations of the story with three distinct playing areas. Some beautifully painted landscapes by Gloria Langer add pops of color and whimsy that help bring out the fantasy elements of the story. Mickey and Rhea Courtney's costumes are bright and cheerful.
This beloved story about how love can make a toy rabbit real is both sweet and moving, and full of heart. DST's simple, straight forward but richly effective production of the classic story is poignant and beautiful.
For more information on The Velveteen Rabbit at Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale, that runs through December 23rd, 2016, call 480 483-1664 or desertstages.org.
Written by Scott Davidson based on the story by Margery Williams