The world premiere of any play lends an exciting atmosphere. For fans of the wildly popular Geronimo Stilton children’s books, Saturday’s opening of Geronimo Stilton: Mouse in Space at the Newmark Theatre was a watershed event. Oregon Children’s Theatre (OCT) has created an adaption that lets children see their favorite book characters up close and personal while they travel from New Mouse City to outer space to foil the dastardly plans of some sinister mice.
Children familiar with this book, or others in the series, will like that all of the main characters are part of the action. OCT was committed to making this a faithful representation of the franchise created by Italian writer, Elisabetta Dami. Representatives from Italy were on hand at the premiere as was the American writer who adapted the play, John Maclay.
For those not familiar with the books, Geronimo Stilton is a mouse journalist who inevitably finds himself involved in crime-solving adventures. The books are known for their full-color illustrations, relatively casual first-person narration, and interesting insertions of text in different fonts, colors, and sizes to highlight certain words or expressions. While the original book series connects largely with seven to ten year-old readers transitioning to chapter books, Geronimo now has such broad exposure through audio books, television, and other spinoffs that familiarity with the characters is fairly universal.
Promotion for Geronimo Stilton: Mouse in Space stated that it is for ages four and up. It is a difficult task in children’s theatre to hit a broad balance of age appropriateness. My nine year-old fan of the books thought that much of the play’s plot, pacing, and humor were aimed more at the four to six year-old audience. Even so, some of the dialogue is fairly long and involved. At 70 minutes without intermission, the story can be a little choppy and starts to drag a bit before the mice finally make their way into space.
Still, all ages will be entertained by the colorful costumes that are true to the books, and by a fine group of actors who work well together. Brian Burger brings to life the sometimes reluctant hero, Geronimo. And, in the role of the loud and colorful cousin, Trap Stilton, Rusty Tennant steals several scenes as the standout comic relief of the show. Some brilliant lighting helps the fairly sparse opening sets before things really kick into gear during the later scenes in space that come complete with swirling neon planets, black light, and a floating Geronimo in orbit.
Other bonuses that kids will enjoy are the arts and crafts opportunities ahead of the show, the meet and greet with the characters afterwards, and the Geronimo-related games, maps, and activities included in the program. The lush Newmark theatre is itself a fun experience for kids as they look up at the big domed ceiling and balconies. While plays here can be expensive, OCT offers discounts and group rates to try to reach a broader audience. All in all, the Italian mice are in good hands — this was a successful premiere of a play that will serve as an able ambassador for a well-loved set of characters.
Geronimo Stilton: Mouse in Space is playing at the Newmark Theatre through February 14, 2016. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Scott and his family were given tickets to attend this performance on behalf of Metro Parent-PDX Kids Calendar for review. He was not compensated in any way for his opinions.