‘Heidi’ at Maryland Ensemble Theatre by Mike Spain

Everything about going to a Fun Company production at Maryland Ensemble Theatre involves having a good time. The afternoon starts on a high note with free face painting before the show begins. Then the friendly ushers escort us to our seats, the lights go down, and the fun continues. This time the presentation is Heidi. It’s a show my daughter loves.

Besides having a great time with my daughter, I was eager to see Vanessa Strickland direct the show, and I wanted to see how they would change the set since MET had another show playing in the same space. Most of all, I was looking forward to Karli Cole’s performance as Heidi.

The cast of 'Heidi.' Photo by Joe Williams.

Vanessa Strickland introduced the show and took her seat in the audience to watch the show. She did a superb job as the director and it was neat to glance over and watch her enjoy the performance. I really appreciate how local theatres give talented actors a chance to groom their  skills.

Heidi’s talented cast also included Laura Stark (Dete/Fraulein Rottenmeier), Sarah Deleonibus (Barbel/Clara), Bill Stitely (Grandfather/Hans/Herr Sesemann), and Geoff Huntoon (Peter/Sebastian), and they made Strickland’s job easier.

Set Designer Joann Lee turned what was used as a loft bed in one play – into part of a rustic mountain home. She utilized a simple white sheet and turned it into a screen to display slides which added much to the performance. Joann left ample open space for the action. She kept it all simple so it would be easy to change the set back for the next performance.

Julie Herber’s costumes were lovely and Heidi’s undergarments made for a hilarious moment. Herber’s outfits helped to tell the story by showing a contrast between the rugged clothes Grandfather wore and the fancy and elegant costumes she designed for Fraulein, Hans, and Clara.

Karli Cole was energetic and entertaining as Heidi from the opening scene where she is going to Grandfather’s with Dete (Laura Stark) – right through the end of the show. The interaction between Cole and Geoff Huntoon was a treat when Huntoon played Peter or Sebastian. Bill Stitely turned in a solid performance as Grandfather, but I really enjoyed his heartwarming performance as Hans. Laura Stark was tough as nails playing Dete and Fraulein Rottenmeier.

Karli Cole (Heidi). Photo by Joe Williams.

My daughter’s favorite scene was the kitten scene between Heidi and Sebastian. The kids in the audience really enjoyed the opening scene where Heidi took off her clothes except for her heavy undergarments. My favorite was the dining room scene where she pulls everything off the table to the dismay of Fraulein (Stark).

Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s Heidi is a delightful show for the entire family. The kids will love it!

Running Time: About one hour with no intermission.

Heidi plays on Saturdays and Sundays through June 10, 2012 at The Fun Company at Maryland Ensemble Theatre – 31 W. Patrick Street, in Frederick, MD. For tickets, call the box office (301) 694-4744, or order them online.

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