Review (Kid Plus One): The Munsch Bunch (George Brown Theatre School)

Find a kid-friendly theatre experience at The Munsch Bunch in Toronto

Kid Plus One is Mooney on Theatre’s series reviewing children’s and young adult shows with our actual children. We’ll pay special attention to topics of interest to parents and caregivers: suitability of theme, how engaging the show is, how tolerant of childish commotions, and so on to help you choose the best shows for your young audience members.

The first thing I need to tell you about The Munsch Bunch is that my wriggly almost-three-year-old sat through the entire 65 minutes and said only two things: “There’s someone else in the box!” and “The moose is going to kiss her!” Other than that, he sat rapt for the entire time, watching wide eyed as the Robert Munsch storybook series came to life. For my little chatterbox, that’s no small feat.

Note to other stewards of chatterboxes: There was plenty of little-kid talking. No shushing or glaring from strangers.

The cast – a group of remarkably energetic, slender, white twentysomethings from George Brown Theatre School – is completely committed to its individual and collective zaniness. They begin in the audience, in character, gently engaging the smaller audience members in various silliness. Severn Thompson, a Toronto actor who’s adapted the Robert Munsch childrens’ books for the stage, directs this band of well-caffeinated youngsters as they run to and fro in charmingly mismatched plaids. The program declines to indicate who plays what role, but some of the actors are really very good (the young people playing Scotty and Liza get particular props for their great energy and lively characterizations, and Boyd and Lloyd do as well for their sterling comic timing). Some of them are also too quiet for a show played in the round, in a room full of ambient noise, and their words get lost into the din.

But largely, the show is energetic and lively, full of interesting props and visually arresting retellings of several classic Robert Munsch stories. It could probably have been about ten minutes shorter, and I personally think more singing is always better in a children’s piece. But as it was, there was plenty for the kids to look at and enjoy. Also: some of the kids behind us were obviously big Munsch fans, and were delighted to be able to predict what would happen next in the show. If your small person(s) is/are well-familiar with the stories they should be satisfied with the adaptation – I did not hear one single complaint of “That’s not how it goes!”

This is clearly a little-kids show; I’d say even a ten-year-old might not be so into it anymore. However, it’s the epitome of good clean fun, and many multi-generational groups were enjoying the show all together before or after a visit to the Distillery District’s Christmas Market. Theatre, a hot pretzel and a ride on the carousel made us the best parents ever. At the end, we asked The Littlest Reviewer whether it was fun, and he replied “Fun and funny. I like them!”

Kid Plus One notes:

Darkness: It gets all the way dark in the theatre before the show and stays that way for several very long moments. Our kid doesn’t mind it, but wailing broke out immediately.

Loud/sudden noises: None.

Themes: Family, togetherness, friendship, memories, and pie.

Seating: general admission. If you want to be certain you all get to sit together, come early.

Overall family-friendliness: High. Lots of tolerance for talking, rustling, childish shenanigans, nursing mothers, bottles and sippies, and plenty of ushers helping to keep an eye on everyone.

Details

The Munsch Bunch is playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, (50 Tankhouse Lane)
– One more show, Sat 9 Dec at 1 pm
– Ticket prices are $18 for all patrons 2 years old and up.
– Tickets are available at the box office, by phone at 416.866.8666, and online.

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