If you have an 8–12 year old somewhere within your range, you ought to consider treating him/her to a night at the theatre. In this case, it’s Celebration Theater at The Twentieth Century Club in Lansdowne, PA where THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF, directed by Geoffrey Berwind, is playing nightly from November 5-21. This play, by Brian Kral, is based on the popular short story written by O. Henry (1862-1910) … no connection to the candy bar.
This comedy is made up of three performers – two losers, Sam Porter played by Albert Them and Bill Driscoll played by Jim Fryer, and Red Chief, a 10 year-old BRAT played by Chick Hallinan. The two thugs, who think they’re actually clever, decide they need money, $2K to be exact, and scheme to kidnap, unbeknownst to them, possibly the worst kid in rural Alabama. Talk about the kid giving the two dimwits, then, a run for their money! Well, while daddy-o isn’t buying it, their request for ransom money, Red Chief (alias Johnny who insists he’s an Indian) considers his capture to be a camping trip. Metaphorically speaking, two plus one equals a wild ‘n crazy time! Finally, who doesn’t enjoy a surprise ending and this play doesn’t disappoint. Our three performers would truly delight young audiences. Good job, Chick!
**Adults, Red Chief is beyond ornery; therefore, it’s important that you make time for discussion about unacceptable behavior. If you know the story (or time to Google), discussing beforehand is even better.
Regarding the set, I did not understand why it was placed in the middle of the floor when there is a stage there also. On three sides was the audience with a cave and campfire on the fourth side. This configuration would work well if the audience were to be part of the performance but it was not so. I would have liked to have seen some semblance of a stage (raised platform?) with curtains (some rope and fabric, guys?) to maintain some mystery to the play.
The volunteers all around were very friendly and helpful. Free root beer floats for everyone at intermission! On this opening night we had the honor of the Mayor of Lansdowne in the audience.
BTW, the first act is 20 minutes with a 15 minute intermission and the second act is 30 minutes. Think your kid can handle that timing? I hope so. Enjoy!!
Till the next show….
THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF
by Brian Kral
Directed by Geoffrey Berwind
November 5 – 21, 2010
Celebration Theater of Lansdowne
84 S. Lansdowne Ave
Lansdowne PA 19050