By Sarah Valek
Performances at Talespinner Children’s Theatre (TCT) are always magical and their latest production, Adventures in Slumberland, is no exception. This is TCT’s fifth production and, judging by the growing number of audience members, they’re becoming an established presence in the city. It seems word is spreading that Cleveland is home to high-quality children’s theater — and, if you have kids, you need to check this out.
Adventures in Slumberland takes place on the night before Christmas in 1905. Little Nemo (played by Valerie Kilmer) is trying to go to sleep (or, rather, being told by his mom to go to sleep). And, when he finally nods off, he enters a world of magic where he tries to get to Slumberland to keep his play date with the Princess of Slumberland. Of course, on his way there, adventures ensue (hence the name of the play).
Adventures doesn’t have as strong as a storyline as past performances like The Emperor’s Ears or The Magic Flute, but it’s no less enjoyable. Many of the scenes are so dazzling — such as when Nemo dances with the Princess or flies through the sky with Santa — that kids (and adults) can’t help but watch in awe. And it’s not like TCT brings out special effects or anything — all this is achieved with minimal (but beautiful) props and a small bed that transforms into a boat and aircraft.
The whole show, starting from the opening song, speaks of the magic of childhood — a theme most apparent near Christmas. And this show does its best to not only inspire that unique brand of childhood imagination — but to pay it reverence. To encourage it. Adventures ends on an inspirational message that everyone, no matter how small, can make a difference.
My son, now 5 (or “5-and-a-half” as he’d say), loved the show and was engaged during the entire performance. He seemed to especially enjoy the singalong parts, which, hopefully they’ll use in future productions. (All TCT productions have utilized some aspect of call-and-response, to much delight.) My friends’ 2-year-old daughter also attended and seemed awestruck by the action happening right in front of her. Yes, the show kept a toddler’s attention. This is no small feat.
If you’re looking to get in on some holiday magic — without the cheesiness — see this show. Then you’ll surely be among TCT’s many fans spreading the word about this fantastic theater company that you must check out.
Adventures in Slumberland runs until Sun 12/22 at the Reinberger Auditorum, 5209 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland. http://TalespinnerChildrensTheatre.org.
Cool Cleveland editor Sarah Valek studied art and writing at Ithaca College. After graduation, she came back to Cle and served two years as an AmeriCorps*VISTA with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. She can be found on all sides of the city in pursuit of homeschooling activities for her son and the perfect soy latte. Contact her at CoolEditorATCoolCleveland.com or via Twitter.