Baby barter


DJ Stiltskin, spinnin’ straw into gold.

DJ Stiltskin, spinnin’ straw into gold.

Rated 3.0

Local playwright Jerry Montoya’s adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin (for the B Street Family Series) is described as “inspired by the characters created by the Brothers Grimm”—a nice way of acknowledging that Montoya nods, winks and takes modern liberties with the old folk tale.

It starts with the twitchy dwarf Rumpelstiltskin (John Lamb, with a sneer and teased-up hair). For those who’ve forgotten, Rumpelstiltskin cuts a deal with a lowly miller’s daughter, helping her spin straw into gold and winning her a marriage with a prince (avaricious Peter Story, who keeps yelling, “Off with her head!”).

But there’s a catch: Rumpelstiltskin can claim the couple’s firstborn child. When he does, complications ensue.

Montoya’s version incorporates an alternating story, which takes over, involving a rustic German farmer and his wife (stout Rick Kleber and Jamie Jones, with thick, silly accents). Their baby son seemingly grows bigger by the hour and gets transported by wheelbarrow (chunky Joe Styron, in a humorous, largely wordless performance). We’re told he’s destined to become a king.

This worries the three witches who run the country (Nisa Davis Hayden, Vickie Hall and Peter Story in drag—they apparently wandered in from Macbeth). To maintain power, the witches get control of the big young lad and hide him in their palace. But they prove—in funny scenes with an oversized baby who cries and throws up, delighting the youngsters in the audience—to be inept nannies.

The weary, sleep-deprived witches deal with this dilemma by putting the boy into a deep sleep, triggering pestilence. As crops fail, the German farmer and his wife get “foreclosed” (triggering snickers from the adults). They wander in the forest, meeting the mercurial Rumpelstiltskin, who finally gets back into the play, just before the end, as a reluctant good guy.

Pleasant aspects of this fast-paced, often campy production include cute costumes by Nancy Pipkin (including a milk cow, complete with an udder; and a nesting goose, looking rather like a meditating Buddhist nun). Also, the ongoing physical humor involving hefty guys (Styron, Story and Kleber; big, bigger, biggest), playfully developed by director McKenna Dabbs.