On any given weekend in this city, it seems children’s theater offerings far outnumber theatrical films for children. The Serendipity Theatre Company, based at the Coronet Theatre, consistently rates high, and its world premiere of “Amelia Bedelia” delights. It combines both a well-known children’s book heroine with clever music and choreography to satisfy its primary audience of 3-to-8 -year-olds. And it’s fun to see the kids have fun.
Amelia Bedelia (Katy Henk) lands her first job, that of a maid at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (Denys Gawronski and Mary Coleston). Amelia brings as an assistant her 9-year-old niece, Effie Lou (Lynsey Bartilson in reviewed performance).
The Rogers’ great aunt Myra (Betty Rae), is coming for a visit, so Amelia and Effie Lou have to prepare the house. Though she wants to be perfect, Amelia always takes directions too literally. If she’s asked to dust the furniture, she finds dust and applies it. If she’s told to spread flowers throughout the house, she covers the ground in petals. When Myra arrives, the house is in chaos.
The cast, directed by Susan Chow, plays to its audience with enthusiasm and energy. Henk’s well-intentioned and eager-to-please Amelia in her misdeeds provokes waves of laughter. Lynsey Bartilson’s Effie Lou lets the audience empathize in an engaging manner. Coleston and Gawronski make for kindly heavies.
Ken Realista’s choreography combines with C.A. Ballo’s music and Ballo and Mea Martineau’s lyrics to create telling and lively moments. The most imaginative piece is a song with dancing pies.
Jack M. Zoltak’s minimal set design, which appears as a series of seemingly hastily drawn flats against a black background, fits in with the illustrations from Peggy Parish’s books, from which the story is drawn and dramatized by Martineau. The low-cost set won’t wow any adults but fulfills its obligations.
Considering that children, by the time they are 10, have spent two full years worth of their lives in front of TV, this production can make a great introduction to an often much more engaging medium.