IF YOU GO
What: A young boy gives a mouse a cookie - and chaos happens
When: 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 4 & 7 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. & 5 p.m. Sundays through June 26
Where: 701 5th Avenue South, Naples
Cost: $20 for adults, $10 for students
Information: (239) 263-7990, naplesplayers.com
Something else: Sit close to the stage for treats and surprises; cookies and a chance to meet the cast afterward
On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.
NAPLES — Never give a mouse a cookie. Ever. Unless you want to see your house destroyed, the sink piled with litter, the floor covered with garbage, a mustard-and-chocolate syrup portrait on the table and an audience in stitches.
Based on Laura Joffe Numeroff's 1985 children's book and adapted for the stage by Jody Davidson, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" recounts the disaster that awaits when a young boy gives a hyperactive mouse a cookie.
"Cookie" aims to be giggly, interactive experience for the toddler-to-teen set, although the clever script and zippy action has plenty of charms to keep parents and grandparents interested.
The show takes energy from the audience; afternoon and early evening crowds with young families are more likely to be boisterous. If you've got howler monkeys, sit in the first couple rows for special treats (cookies) and surprises (balls, glitter and Silly String). Cast members also distribute cookies, sign autographs and pose for photos after the 50-minute show.
Laura Needle (Mouse) bounds on-stage in overalls and a furry gray cap with pink ears and long tail that never manages to stay out of trouble. After accepting one single cookie, which she chomps with delight, she explodes with energy.
Improv is a big part of "Cookie," and Needle skitters through the set like a tiny mouse being chased by a farmer's wife. She leaps onto the table at the mention of the word cat, she skates through the kitchen on cleaning pads, she even crawls into the cabinets and onto the refrigerator. Needle never stops moving - and thanks to her, neither does the show.
Matthew Striegel stepped into the role of Boy a week ago when Mike Santos (a regular with Naples City Improv) was forced to leave the show with an injury. Striegel's talents lean more toward mimicry, although he's no slouch at physical comedy. He narrates the show's comic book segment with the verve and style of a seasoned audiobook artist and brings a youthful exuberance to the role that kids in the crowd will relate to. Geralynn Felicetta pops up in various roles as a mirror, a crocodile and the hapless boy's mother.
Santos's cheerful set, in green, purple, white and orange - with great circles floating off into the background and stripes snaking up the back wall - invites touching. Indeed, one tiny tot tried to climb onstage during Friday night's show.
"Cookie" crumbles in delightful style. Young families will find plenty of sweet things (bright sets, simple plot, lots of action) at this show, while the 50-minute run time keeps it well within the attention span of youngsters. Look for the fantastic chase scenes that loop around the stage and the hysterical comic book sequence, as well as the screams of delight of the kids around you.
That's the way the cookie crumbles. E-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.