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REVIEW: Corduroy the Show, Corduroy the Cast (Children’s Theatre Company)

Dean Holt as Corduroy in the Children’s Theatre Company production of Corduroy. Photo by Dan Norman.

The Children’s Theatre Company is showing the world premiere of the play Corduroy written by Barry Kornhauser. Kornhauser has a great taste for ageless physical humor; he also penned the fanciful Balloonacy, which was recently reprised at CTC. Corduroy the play is based on Don Freeman’s classic 1968 children’s book Corduroy, about a teddy bear who creates havoc overnight in a department store in his efforts to find a button. Under the direction of Peter C. Brosius, the play emphasizes slapstick humor that leaves its audience delightfully impaired by extreme laughter.

The play has two interweaving story lines. The first is Corduroy (Dean Holt)’s quest to find a button; this leads to repeated hysterical antics by the Night Watchman to find the “criminal” he thinks is destroying the department store one department at a time. The second is Lisa’s quest to earn money to buy Corduroy, which creates one disaster after another. There are lots of pratfalls and slamming lids – it’s easy to see how Reed Sigmund, who was cast as the Night Watchman but is currently recovering from an injury, hurt his hand – and the running gag concerning an errant vacuum cleaner leaves the audience in constant stitches.

Corduroy is played by Dean Holt. The character may only says one word (“button”) throughout the show, but Holt uses his body movements and facial expressions to say volumes more. He deftly shifts onto the scene to take the place of the small cuddly teddy bear who stands in for him when he is small.

Keegan Robinson and Meredith ‘Mimi’ Kol-Balfour as the Ensemble in Corduroy. Photo by Dan Norman.

In the production that I saw, Brian Sostek understudied for the injured Sigmund. Sostek’s night watchman has just the right level of dedication and dimness to make his continuous pratfalls believable as he tries to find the “serial” vandal. Sostek, with a Bronx accent, maintains a lively conversation even though he is the only one talking in most of his scenes. Sostek, a veteran children’s entertainer with his movement work, milks the humor in each of his falls for the young audience.

Lauren Davis does a nice job of playing the caring, but clearly exasperated mother of Lisa who soon regrets giving Lisa an incentive to do extra chores. Ileri Okikiolu plays the always-optimistic Lisa, even when she admits she is friendless at school.

My grandson was overwhelmed with laughter from the play’s antics. Even children and adults unfamiliar with the Corduroy story will be entertained by the play’s boisterous actions.

Corduroy plays through May 20 at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN.

Bev Wolfe