Enjoyable “Aesop’s Fables” from Creative Cauldron’s Learning Theater

Creative Cauldron Presents Aesop’s fables, a production featuring hand-picked students in their Learning Theater Studio. This talented young ensemble is led by Laura Connors Hall, who also adapted this precious piece especially for them. With the support of a few professional actors, the cast gives audiences an amusing review of beloved fables and provides an evening of family entertainment.

Scene from Creative Cauldron’s ‘Aesop’s Fables.’ Photo by William Gallagher Photography.

Because the Creative Cauldron is a particularly intimate space (it’s a black box theater), the Learning Theater Studio has been unable to hold a live performance for the past 21 months. Even now, they are enforcing strict safety protocols, holding shows at 50 percent capacity so audience members can be socially distanced, and they require masks, as well as proof of vaccinations or proof of negative COVID test performed within 72 hours of visit. Although the space may be small, you can be sure that every precaution has been taken to ensure everyone’s safety. The entire cast is also masked, although you wouldn’t know it – in what is by far the most flashy technical element, set designer and costume designer Margie Jervis created beautiful headpieces for the cast using wire mesh , felt, feathers, furs, and more! While the headpieces are large and intricate, and the actors all wear medical-grade masks underneath, their collective diction is crystal clear – quite the feat, considering the task. This can only be a testament to the fantastic direction and guidance that was undoubtedly given to them.

Scene from Creative Cauldron’s ‘Aesop’s Fables.’ Photo by William Gallagher Photography.

The cast takes you through a collection of classic fables, to fun and upbeat music by Matt Conner (who is also the musical director) with lyrics by Stephen Gregory Smith. Emerson Thiebert and Carmen Ortiz make a memorable pair as The tortoise and the hareand Ben Graham gives a lively performance as The boy who cried wolf. Will Stevenson and E. Augustus Knapp juggle a variety of roles as seasoned actors, and each brings strong and nuanced performances. For example, Knapp is majestic and Shakespearian like Mr. Owl for The tortoise and the hareand Stevenson commands the stage as Lion for The lion and the mouse. With nine fables in total, my favorites were The ants and the grasshopper and The city mouse and the country mouse.

Lorien Jackson is a nonchalant grasshopper who finds himself hungry and cold after failing to properly prepare for winter and must turn to a group of ants for help – the same group of ants he ridiculed over early for working too hard. Audrey Burke is great as Lead Ant, and Ben Graham is very funny as Grandpa Ant, who likes to snack on tire-sized Cheeto crumbs. Lorien Jackson and Millie Owens play refined urban mice, who want a break from their noisy and stressful lifestyle. They reach out to their country cousins, Carmen Ortiz and Elaina Rosenberger, in hopes of a visit. Country mice just happen to be bored and crave some excitement, so the couples decide to switch places for a break – with hilarious and insightful consequences for both.

creative cauldron Aesop’s fables was a very enjoyable evening! I would especially recommend it for families, especially those with children who are interested in acting and theater. I’ve found that children especially enjoy watching young actors, their own peers, on stage – it’s an exciting and inspiring experience for them, and they won’t be soon forgotten.

Duration: 90 minutes, without intermission.

Aesop’s fables plays through November 21, 2021 at Creative Cauldron – 410 South Maple Avenue, Retail 116, Falls Church, VA. Tickets (adults $20, students $18) can be purchased in line.

COVID safety: Masks and social distancing are required along with proof of vaccination or proof of negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of visit. Accommodation is available for students under the age of 12.

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