Dad and MonsterBy John Berger
learn to switch places
in HTY play
Special to the Star-Bulletin
MOST pre-schoolers will probably see "Little Monster" when Honolulu Theatre for Youth brings the production to their schools, but it's a show that should be enjoyed by kids and their parents together.
They get a chance to share the experience the next two Saturdays at Ala Moana Park's McCoy Pavilion.
The "monster" is actually a 4-year-old, played by adult Herman Tesoro Jr., who wakes up early and wants to play. His father (Walter Eccles) had to work late the night before and is still sleeping.
The scenario is a familiar one. Eccles and Tesoro play it beautifully. Tesoro is engaging as the well-intentioned, energetic child. Eccles is a fine foil as the dead-tired parent who just wants a few more minutes of sleep. Dad proves extremely tolerant of the numerous intrusions by his son, a rhinoceros, a hungry shark, a zebra named Phenomenon, a hand held vacuum cleaner, a ghost and an invisible mosquito alien.
The kids in the audience will certainly relate to the boy's attempts to do things that are a little beyond his capabilities. He tries to pour his own glass of juice but most of it ends up on the floor. He decides that sleepy Dad deserves breakfast in bed and turns the bed into a disaster area. Kids at St. Clement's School were enthralled from the first moments of the performance on Tuesday and screamed with delight when Tesoro spilled the "juice" on the floor and poured "cereal" into a bowl and all over Eccles.
What: HTY presents "Little Monster"
When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday and May 13
Where: McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Park
Also: Performances of "The Short Tree and the Bird That Could Not Sing" will be at 1:30, 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and May 13
Aside from pure entertainment value, this HTY production also has depth. It isn't all slapstick. Long-suffering Dad eventually suggests to his son that they play a game and pretend to be each other. Eccles and Tesoro instantly switch characters and Dad gives his impression of a 4 year old, while the kid pretends to be a sleepy parent.
It is a fine learning experience for the characters and the audience. When the boy tells his father "I don't act like a baby," Dad replies that sometimes he does. Dad also is surprised to see himself from his son's perspective.
When things do get out of control, the boy is told he is old enough to think about the consequences of his actions. That's another issue kids and parents can talk about at home.
"Little Monster" is also an excellent starting point for parent/child discussions about seeing things from different perspectives. Eccles and Tesoro do such a great job as performers that adults can expect to enjoy "Little Monster" rather than simply sitting through it.
Although "Little Monster" is perfect entertainment for a pre-school audience, and the theater group aims to reach as many people as possible at McCoy Pavilion, the venue has its problems. Given the ratio of parking spaces to people using the park on weekends, it would be hard to suggest a less convenient place.
Performances continue this weekend and next, with "Little Monster" paired with a second play, "The Short Tree and the Bird That Could Not Sing," about a sapling that complains that bigger trees block its view of the world.
When the big trees are cut, the sapling finds itself alone and only begins to blossom after making friends with a bird.
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