Creative Cauldron presents The Princess and the Goblin, an original adaptation based on the novel by George MacDonald. Directors Laura Connors Hull, Lenny Mendez, and Will Stevenson tailored this production for the performers of Learning Theater Studio, a program at Creative Cauldron for children interested in the performing arts. This program helps students hone their stage presence and teamwork skills by teaching helpful tools and techniques alongside professional actors who workshop with them to create a final production. With music by Matt Conner and lyrics by Stephen Gregory Smith, The Princess and the Goblin is a fun pick for the Learning Theater Studio, and a solid choice for an evening of family fun.
If you’re familiar with Creative Cauldron, you’ll know it’s a black box theater, which makes it a small, intimate venue. Since Learning Theater Studio productions tend to have large casts, Set Designer Margie Jervis needed to allow for a lot of movement without much space. She does this by creating several platforms that enable the children to go up, down, over, and under several heights — an unfocused eye could mistake them for a Gymboree class. Jervis’ design talents shine with the costumes, particularly the big, goofy goblin heads structured from wire mesh (a smart way to hide facemasks for those who choose to wear one). Lighting Designer James Morrison completes the atmosphere with creative elements such as tapestries projected onto the wall and the illusion of rushing water and dappled sunlight.
Emma Howell is charming as Princess Irene, an adventurous girl who struggles with her loving but highly overprotective nurse, Lootie (Sophie Silva). Feeling stifled, Irene sneaks away to explore the castle, finding new delights such as the serene, mystical figure of her great-great-great grandmother Irene, who lives in a castle tower. However, these escapades also unearth danger in the form of an underground goblin palace and the goblins’ dark plan to overthrow the real royal family. With help from her new friend Curdie (a fun performance by Henry Gill), her grandmother, and the castle staff, Irene works to find a way to save her family from the goblins’ evil plot.
It’s obvious from the start that the young cast is having a whole lot of fun onstage, and it’s an energy that’s contagious and seeps into the audience. There are some fun musical numbers, including “Googo Goblin Gogo” and the more touching, memorable number “Light Out of the Darkness.” In my opinion, the goblins are the highlight of the show, particularly Zoe Folse Sibert, who stands out as the haughty Goblin Queen, and Madeline Varho as the dippy Prince Hairlip. Gus Knapp and Lenny Mendez are the adult actors in the production and prove to be good support for the children in their roles as King and Grandmother Irene. Since these children are only beginning to hone their craft, the acting can be rough-around-the-edges, but I always encourage families to bring their children to shows that showcase young casts, especially families with children who are interested in the performing arts. I’ve found that kids particularly enjoy watching other children thrive onstage — it’s an exciting and inspiring experience for them, and won’t soon be forgotten.
Taking your children to live theater is an enriching investment, and the opportunity is especially inspiring when the cast is made up of children in their own age group — their peers. Why not start with a showing of The Princess and the Goblin at Creative Cauldron?
Running Time: 90 minutes, without an intermission.
The Princess and the Goblin plays through November 20, 2022, at Creative Cauldron, 410 South Maple Avenue, Falls Church, VA. For tickets, ($20 for adults and $18 for students) call 703-436-9948 or purchase them online.
COVID Safety: Masks are required at all times for all patrons and visitors regardless of vaccination status during all indoor performances. Masks must be worn in the lobby, inside the theater, and in restrooms. The complete Creative Cauldron COVID-19 Protocols are here.
The Princess and the Goblin
A Learning Theater Production
Adapted by Laura Connors Hull from the classic novel by George MacDonald
With Music by Matt Conner and Lyrics by Stephen Gregory Smith
Creative Cauldron announces 2022/23 season of all new work (news story, August 16, 2022)