Review On Gideon and the Blundersnorp

Shari Barrett

Registered Critic, Writer, Publicist

Much like the rags to riches story of The Princess Bride, this hour-long musical tells the tale of a young farm hand who dreams of more, longing to serve as a King's Cavalier who is aided in that quest by the almost-royal Viscountess Alanna (7 cousins would have to die first for her to become Queen).  Narrated by a Troubadour whose cleverly constructed musical musings provide the story exposition in the beginning as well as scene breaks while the cast sets up the next location from the various set pieces on the stage, this enchanting tale of reaching for your dreams during the Age of Adventure (ie" Fantasy) is greatly enhanced by the talents of Dan Amerman as the farm hand Gideon, the incredibly magnificent stage presence and voice of Maggie Ek as Alanna, Viscountess of Cembria, and the ever-present and ready-for-commentary Ember Everett as the Troubadour who reminds us at the end to "dare to be more" than we think we can be and that living your life with valor should always be more important than whatever status into which you were born.

And let's not forget the glorious Blundersnorp whose appearance near the end engulfs the stage in a light show guaranteed to hold the rapt attention of even the most-jaded audience member!

Catchy tunes by Michael Gordon Shapiro and a clean-cut dialogue create a musical appropriate for all fantasy lovers regardless of age. Inventive staging on the small playing area, brilliantly lit and creatively directed to allow for multiple settings from near and far, as well as artistically created horse head puppets used to perfection by cast members which allow us to forget we are inside a theater and imagine the story playing out across the wilds of our imagination.

I originally saw this musical when it was done virtually with all the actors in their own homes. And I can tell you, there is quite an extraordinary difference seeing it done live onstage, especially since the audience has a chance to interact with the actors, encouraging them to even greater feats of creatively.

While I found the entire production very entertaining, early in the show the Troubadour released bits of multicolored paper into the air, which landed on the stage and remained there through the entire show. I kept wondering if someone, ie: the farm hand, simply forgot to sweep them up (since he just had a broom in his hands) and worried that a cast might might trip on them and slide down to an injury during the show. I watched during the next scene break and there was time to sweep everything up, and I encourage the director to consider that addition to the choreography so as not to distract other viewers from focusing on the story rather than the scattered pieces of colorful paper resting on the stage floor.

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in local secondary schools, working in marketing for several studios, writing, directing, producing, and performing in productions for several non-profit theaters, Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as an independent publicist to "get the word out" about smaller theaters throughout the Los Angeles area.

As a founding member of the LA Stage Alliance Leadership Council Task Force, she and reps from theaters throughout the city worked together to articulate a vision for the theatre community of Greater Los Angeles.

Shari has received recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her dedication of heart and hand to the needs of friends, neighbors and fellow members of society for her devotion of service to the people of Los Angeles, and is honored to serve the theatre world in her hometown.

Currently she is the Publicist and a member of the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse.