Cuckoo for Kipling
The Parsee Man’s singing, chef’s hat askew, under a palm tree at the Redfield Theatre. Out dances a black Cooking Stove. Both are surprised when, on the shore of this “altogether uninhabited” island, a chest that doubles as a sailing vessel lands.
Elephant Child and Kolokolo Bird climb out of the boat, trade one-liners and sing. The group hears the pound, pounding of the Rhino coming down from the mountain.
The Rhino bursts into comical song, grunting and pawing the stage.
“For an altogether uninhabited island, isn’t it getting rather over-crowded?” asks the Kolokolo Bird, played by Jenifer Crenshaw of the Nevada Repertory Company.
The good-sized audience laughs. Crenshaw’s comedic timing is impeccable on the opening night of Just So, a musical comedy based on Rudyard Kipling’s tales.
The action begins as Eldest Magician (Scott House) assigns the animals “games to play” and sends them off on journeys of self-discovery.
Disobedient Crab slurks off for a one-crustacean rebellion, delighting in causing floods. Who will save the animals from Crab? That’d be Elephant Child (Courtney Ross-Powell), whose “'satiable curiosity” drives adults berserk.
“If there’s a Mississippi, is there a Mr. Sippi, too?” Elephant Child sings.
Elephant Child’s odyssey to find and politely confront Crab about his weapons of mass destruction allows ample opportunity to learn “How the Zebra Got His Stripes,” “How the Leopard Got His Spots” and “How the Rhino Got His Skin.”
Highlights: great costumes, super choreography and several outstanding performances: the witty exchanges between Ross-Powell and Crenshaw are hilarious. Both carry their respective tunes marvelously.
Drawbacks: The show demands a couple dozen excellent voices but falls one or two short of ideal. Also, if this show is intended for kids, it runs long—two and a half hours.
Still, it didn’t feel long to those who were endlessly entertained by such randomness as the funkily dressed Parsee Man dropping to his knees in front of Rhino and singing in an operatic voice:
“Pleeeee …..aaaasssssse don’t touch my stove. … Surely, you would never come between me and my Kenmore!"