Friday, April 23, 2004

Moses Goods III, right, plays a captivating hungry wolf to Monico Cho Coldwell's Red Riding Hood in Honolulu Theatre for Youth's "The Little Little Red Riding Hood Show."

Red Riding Hood’s
wolf steals the show

Watch out ... or you too might be eaten by a wolf! Honolulu Theatre for Youth presents "The Little Little Red Riding Hood Show" onstage, and they're looking for a few audience members to be a part of the act.

Moses Goods III steals the show with his charming portrayal of the hungry wolf. Whether he is tickling Red Riding Hood with his tail, running through the crowd howling or simply waving hello with a silly grin on his face, he proves to be a wolf people might like to have around.

"The Little Little Red Riding Hood Show"

Presented by Honolulu Theatre for Youth

Where: McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Park

When: 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. tomorrow and May 1, 8 and 15. The May 15 performance is sign-interpreted.

Admission: $12 adults; $6 children and seniors

Call: 839-9885

Little Red Riding Hood, played by Monica Cho Coldwell, tells the audience in advance that the wolf will keep appearing when he is not supposed to be a part of the story. Three hundred forty children from Manoa and Lunalilo Elementary Schools roared with laughter as Red Riding Hood's mother (Janice Terukina) played "peeky, peeky boo" with the wolf in the window, as well as his other antics.

Cho warns the audience "to just ignore and not encourage" the wolf. But, tired of getting his belly slashed open, the wolf is determined to create a new ending to the tale.

In the traditional story, Little Red Riding Hood meets the wolf en route to grandma's house and learns the valuable lesson about not talking to strangers. The main focus of this version is Red Riding Hood's close relationship with her mother, who follows her throughout the story, showing up at the end disguised as the hunter to save the day. The show explores the issues of good vs. evil, as well as the importance of listening to your parents.

But it turns out that each character has a different idea about how the story should end.

Mother is tired of seeing her poor child getting eaten by the wolf, and Grandma enlists accomplices in the audience to try to trick the beast.

Larger-than-life "books" are transformed into Red Riding Hood's kitchen and her grandmother's bedroom, in the set created by Mike Harada. A backdrop of trees also moves along with the wolf in the forest, where the sneaky wolf distracts Red Riding Hood with flowers. The children went wild trying to warn her of the wolf's devious acts.

Meanwhile, Grandma (Cynthia See) coerces a couple of kids in the audience to play her role, providing them with a bonnet and T-shirts stating, "eaten by a wolf."

The brave companions all climb into bed, awaiting their fate. Grandma's bed allows them to disappear below as the wolf gobbles rag doll versions of the three.

When the hunter (mom) comes to the rescue, she cuts open the wolf's belly. Grandma, her two companions and Red Riding Hood climb out through some sort of unseen hatch in the middle of the bed, nabbing a nice round of applause for this special effect.

Throughout the performance, the characters spell out words like "y-e-l-l-o-w" or "t-r-o-u-b-l-e," even as the wolf tries to persuade Red Riding Hood that spelling is not important, and neither is listening to adults.

One teacher commented later that there was "definitely too much talking" in the production, which might be compared to the film version of "Cat in the Hat," which was geared more toward adults than children.

But the kids seemed to be quite content. There was some talking and fidgeting during the production, but not enough to notice amid the laughter, applause and enthusiastic foot-stomping.

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