Before our family went to see Winnie the Pooh shortly after it opened at Adventure Theatre, I figured that, despite the all-ages recommendation, it would likely appeal mostly to Sasha, who just turned four, than it would to Owen, my newly minted seven-year-old. After all, the bear of Very Little Brain and his gang of friends inhabit the stories of kids’ younger years, so I assumed the play would as well.
It turned out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Like many of Adventure Theatre’s productions, Winnie the Pooh has something for everyone. The beloved characters are brought to life by a cast of very talented actors. The plot is fun and light, but sophisticated enough to keep older children and parents engaged. The set, designed as the 100 Aker Woods of the books, is inspired and delightful. And the musical numbers are fantastic, showcasing one of the best voices I’ve heard — that of James Gardiner, who plays Eeyore and Kanga — at AT yet.
The play opens in the woods as Piglet reveals to Pooh that she believes there is a Heffalump lurking about. They concoct a plan, along with Rabbit, to find and capture it, and that’s when the adventures — and antics — commence…
In their pursuit of the legendary Heffalump, Pooh and Piglet, along with the audience, encounter other friends in the forest and are deterred by the goings-on in their days, too. Christopher Robin asks Pooh to hold a potful of honey (you can probably guess what happens to it), Eeyore has lost his tail, Piglet discovers it’s Eeyore birthday, Rabbit wants to get rid of Kanga’s bathtub so they don’t lose their dirt, and Kanga loses her baby Roo.
There’s a lot going on and several side stories to follow, which could get lost a bit on younger children, as was the case with Sasha. Her focus was on and off throughout the play, but she also has a tendency to get antsy. I saw many other little ones enraptured by the entire show, the charming characters and physical comedy easily sustaining their attention. There are also plenty of cute and clever moments as this all plays out, many that speak to the adults in the audience, which seems to be a signature feature of AT plays.
As with many of Pooh’s adventures — and Adventure Theatre shows — everything ends happily. And that included my kids’ takes on it after. Owen deemed it “SO good,” and even though Sasha didn’t quite follow the whole play, she really liked “all the animals, especially Pooh!” Levi remarked that the singing was particularly good. And I agree with all of them. A well-done family show, for sure.
Winnie the Pooh is playing at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park through February 24, and show times vary by day. Tickets are $19 and available for purchase online or at the Box Office, though I recommend buying in advance as shows tend to sell out.