Review: ‘Outside the Lines’ at Arts on the Horizon

Arts on the Horizon is a non-profit theater company that provides a professional, safe, and interactive theater experience for children ages six and under. Known for their vibrant nonverbal productions, each show explores a specific theme while encouraging a child’s developmental skills. Outside the Lines follows two pen pals from different parts of the world and the imaginative friendship that they build together. Created by Tia Shearer Basset and directed by Megan Alrutz, Outside the Lines is a great opportunity to introduce your child to the world of theater and art!

Moriamo Akibu and Dallas Tolentino in Outside the Lines. Photo by Ryan Maxwell Photography.

Scenic and Prop Designer Robert Humphrey uses the intimate space wisely, giving each actor a large mobile set piece that acts as their home/play space. They can be moved and manipulated to suit the actor’s need for ample space, as this show requires a lot of movement and dance. Projections designed by Patrick Lord are displayed across three playfully skewed screens, most of them showing the abstract drawings and notes that the children are sending to each other.

E-hui Woo does a lovely job with lighting design, including some imaginative stencil work, and Costume Designer Amy MacDonald dresses the actors in creatively-cut suits that, while spunky and fun, don’t command too much attention. This is because the core of this show is music and movement. Musical Director Joan Singer performs beautiful music for this production as part of the group QuinTango, an instrumental ensemble consisting of two violins, a cello, bass, and piano. Light and cheery, the music sets the tone for the actors, and since there is no dialogue, it is the main driving force of the production. The actors and music complimented each other perfectly!

Moriamo Akibu and Dallas Tolentino in Outside the Lines. Photo by Ryan Maxwell Photography.

Moriamo Akibu and Dallas Tolentino play Vi and Bud, two pen-pals who enjoy sending and receiving mail from their distant friend. Director Megan Alrutz created a world in which every action is exaggerated– beginning with over-the-top morning stretching and yawns.

The two go about their daily routines, and are both thrilled to receive mail from their friend–so thrilled, in fact, that they each try to fit themselves into large envelopes so that they may ship themselves to each other (a cute scene that got a lot of laughs).

When that doesn’t work, they make gifts for each other using pipe cleaners, but the packages don’t fit into their mailboxes! They instead encourage the young audience to pass the parcels along so that they may “deliver” each other’s gifts. The children were interested from the start and eager to help! This is all cute enough, but when some magic and imagination come into play, we are treated to a beautiful dance routine inspired by ballet and mime. Paired with lovely music, this is a scene that even the parents will marvel at!

After the show, the actors stay and help the children create their own crafts with colorful pipe cleaners. An awful lot of creativity is packed into the 30 minute show time! The atmosphere is welcoming and warm, and good quality time was had all around!

Arts on the Horizon’s Outside the Lines is a fun and affordable way to spend an afternoon with your child– and the fun doesn’t have to end there since the show comes with an activity sheet full of theme-related crafts and learning exercises for you to enjoy at home!

Running Time: 30 minutes, with no intermission.

Outside the Lines plays through April 28, 2018, at The Lab at Convergence – 1819 N. Quaker Lane, in Alexandria, VA. Additional performances will be held May 2-6, 2018, at Atlas Performing Arts Center – 1333 H Street, NE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.


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