701 5th Avenue South, Naples, FL
NAPLES — Loaded with slapstick comedy that includes roller skating, juggling and a roll of out-of-control tape, the Naples Players have prepared a treat for the mind as well as the mouth with “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” which opens Friday.
The play is a stage adaptation of Laura Numeroff’s children’s story about how a polite gesture snowballs out of control. With exaggerated props — a refrigerator the size a child and mouse might perceive it — and a brightly colored, off-kilter set, the show is targeted toward the young, or the young at heart, said director Megan McCombs.
The actors get to have as much fun as the audience, improvising with props and interacting with the crowd throughout the show. This is the second year Naples Players has staged an interactive show for children at Sugden Community Theatre. The company performed “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” last season.
Getting children through the door is sometimes the first step in getting them involved on stage, said Dallas Dunnagan, artistic director of The Naples Players.
“I’ve seen kids just light up when they see what’s happening and they want to become part of it,” Dunnagan said.
A younger audience’s energy can be as enjoyable for the actors as it is for the audience.
“It can be a pretty incredible experience. They are so open and receptive, they have no preconceptions, they just enjoy what they see,” Dunnagan said. Once adults have the experience of performing for children, “It’s always easy to get adults to re-audition. They love the give and take, the energy that’s there,” she said.
Three adult actors make up the cast of Boy, Mouse and Mirror. The play follows an afternoon between Boy and Mouse, who wanders into his life and causes chaos.
The chaos is key.
“It’s been a lot of fun for us to figure out what little kids do that creates a mess. They’re not trying to be messy, but they take things out of cabinets; they cut things up; they’re curious,” McCombs said. “Part of the fun that we’re going to have is to see how quickly we can clean it up to get ready for the next show.”
While they won’t be giving out glasses of milk, McCombs said the audience can expect to get a treat.