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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a marvelous production: its story is enthralling, the cast tight and talented, the direction perfectly on point, and the supporting arts everything they need to be. The script is a wonderful, offbeat, unique, charming, heartbreaking tale of redemption, an adaptation of the eponymous children's book by Kate DiCamillo, penned by Dwayne Hartford. Edward is an expensive china, toy rabbit , a special French creation gifted to young Abilene by her grandmother. The hare doll, who thinks and speaks but is unheard by humans, is vain, entitled, and indifferent towards the loving, doting Abilene. While on a vacation cruise, Edward is tossed overboard by a pair of bullies. For 297 days he sits on the ocean floor before a storm delivers him to the first of numerous companions and heartbreaking experiences that over the years teaches him the many facets of love.
Each encounter is charming, but also deeply heartbreaking, so though appropriate for a broad age-range, some scenarios could be difficult for children under 8 or so. And while befitting most ages, "Edward Tulane" should not be mistaken for a child's tale, merely tolerated by adults. This, like the musical "Into the Woods," is a rich adult story. The 90-minute piece takes you on a twisty, emotional ride that can cut deep, but offers a soft landing.
This production boasts a quartet of apt performers. Three - Constance Witman as Traveler, Kaitlyn Stasiak as Woman, and Drew DeSimone as Man - perform numerous characters. Each gives marked and believable definition to their multiple roles, great performances all. Still, Witman is a standout, boggling with her distinct, rich transformations. Kit Grimm, seated on stage throughout, gives Edward his voice and so much more. The delivery drips with authentic personality. Director Samantha Smith lends a steady, artful hand to the piece. Her characters are defined, the movement is perfectly paced and the staging satisfying. Lighting design by Bretton Reis appropriately takes center stage on a number of occasions and really adds to the storytelling. Ditto the work of CJ Lewis, who oversees sound and music, the latter including original pieces composed and performed by Lewis. Set and Prop design by Ben Bagley are the perfect accompaniment, and costumes by Jenry Towle complete the look.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a must see. Every day that passes is one less chance to make reservations. Do yourself a favor, don't let it slide. This offbeat story is a rare bird (or rabbit), a wonderful adult-worthy fantasy, that just happens to play to a younger set as well. Definitely worth your precious discretionary time and funds.