Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

The Velveteen Rabbit
Desert Stages Theatre
Review by Gil Benbrook | Season Schedule

Also see Gil's recent reviews of The Herd, A Christmas Story, The Musical, Anthony Rapp in Concert, A Very Hairy Javelina Holiday, and Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See

Keaton Honaker, Isaac Speyer, and Donna Kaufman
Photo by Dana Butcher / Desert Stages Theatre
"What is real?" That probing question is repeated numerous times throughout the charming family-friendly drama The Velveteen Rabbit. Desert Stages Theatre presents this simple tale of a stuffed toy rabbit who yearns to be "real" with an endearing cast and whimsical creative aspects that combine to create a lovely production of this sweet and heartwarming story.

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 DavidsonÂ’s adaptation doesnÂ’t 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

Written by Scott Davidson based on the story by Margery Williams
Directed by Rick Davis
Set Design by Rick Davis, Virginia Olivieri, Gloria Langer and Rick Sandifer
Costume Design by Richard "Mickey" & Rhea Courtney
Lighting & Sound Designer: Chris Caracciolo and Matt Villarreal
Hair and Make Up Design: Virginia Olivieri

Voice 1/Mouse/Bunny 2: Ausette Anderies
Voice 2/Skin Horse/Bunny 1: J Kevin Tallent
Voice 3/Nana: Donna Kaufman
Voice 4/Train/Magic: Macy Morgan
Boy: Isaac Speyer
The Velveteen Rabbit: Keaton Honaker

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