Winnie the Pooh, Emerald City Theatre Company, at the Apollo Theater. The enduring appeal of this bear of very little brain is the beguiling simplicity of his adventures. Adapter Alyn Cardarelli strips A.A. Milne’s stories down for this new kids’ musical without losing their straightforward joy. In 50 minutes the company presents three enchanting tales, two of them taken from Milne’s books: Christopher Robin leads his friends on an “expotition” to the north pole, and Tigger is unbounced. The third is an original creation, based on audience suggestions, that echoes Milne’s manner and purpose. The day I saw the show, the premise–that Eeyore really, really wanted something he eventually got–elicited a charming story.
Allison Greaves’s costumes are amateurish, but the enthusiastic cast capture the personalities of their beloved characters. Brooke Sherrod is a take-charge Rabbit, Tom Meier a gloomy Eeyore, Kenda Hallman a timidly sweet Piglet, and Kristen Freilich a kindly Pooh (though I regret to report she never once says, “Oh, bother”). Adam Silver is appropriately hyper as Tigger but also takes on Owl, Christopher Robin, Kanga, and Roo. It’s too bad that Allen Jeffrey Rein’s unfocused staging distracts from the fun, and the show’s pratfalls are regrettably underplayed. But this remains a high-energy, brightly amusing trip to the 100 Aker Wood.