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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 49
Red Ranger Came Calling a holiday treat
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Red Ranger Came Calling a holiday treat

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Red Ranger Came Calling: A Guaranteed True Christmas Story
Book-It Repertory
Through December 23


A sweet-and-sour musical journey appears for all of us to enjoy as Book-It Repertory reprises Red Ranger Came Calling: A Guaranteed True Christmas Story. Berkeley Breathed is primarily known as the cartoonist who brought us Bloom County and the Outland strips, vaguely subversive commentary on popular culture. But he also has written several children's books in recent years. His 1994 book was adapted by Myra Platt for Book-It's 2003 season, and again in 2004. Book-It has brought it back for this season, and it's clear why audiences of all ages delight in seeing it again.

The story is based on a true story of Berkeley's father, who at age 9 was so enamored of the radio hero Red Ranger that he insisted he be referred to as 'Red Ranger of Mars.' The 9-year-old was also shipped regularly across the country by train to his Aunt Vy on Vashon Island for the holidays. The story finds this headstrong young boy not very happy about having to make this trip to a boring place where little happens.

But this year, Red hears about a local resident Saunder Clos -who bears a striking resemblance to a retired Santa Claus -and decides to visit him and see for himself. Red's skepticism is overcome by a series of remarkable moments and he tentatively decides he might possibly believe in Santa again, and hopes for the gift of a hero's bicycle. When it looks like the bicycle didn't appear, Red has to struggle with lashing out at an old man or discovering inside himself that pleasing others might actually also please his own heart. After this triumphant discovery, Red notices a bicycle was delivered, though in an unexpected way.

Jerick Hoffer is a tour de force as 9-year-old Red Ranger -even at six feet tall! He's the sour-faced, tart-tongued little boy who sings and dances his way through this moment of discovery. Hoffer gets marvelous material to sing, too, with original music penned by Edd Key and Myra Platt. The songs are tuneful and tart, like the story. Hoffer even gets to tantrum amusingly through one of the songs.

Wesley Rice plays the author/narrator, and though the identity of Saunder Clos is not in the program -I guess to preserve Santa's existence for the littler ones -Rice is also the decrepit old man. He's also a very funny man with a talent for making himself look very, very old.

Aunt Vy is the heart of the play, and Theresa Holmes warms the stage with her beautiful singing voice and loving suffering as Red does his best to make life difficult. A strong chorus of four Vashon residents is joined by some talented children who are singing, dancing toys -and even the musicians get into the singing and dancing.

Curtis Taylor designed a storybook style set that works well on the small stage. Jessica Trundy adds playful lighting and K.D. Schill costumes everyone in period-appropriate attire. Choreography by Ryan Barret is festive and well-done. Musicians are pulled together by master musician, Key, and Platt directs with just the right touch of whimsy. If you haven't seen the production before, do yourself a favor this time around.

For more information, go to www.book-it.org or call 206-216-0833.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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