Studio Theatre – Stage 4

Remaining Performances:

Friday, July 19, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 20, 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 21, 12:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 27 12:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 28 12:45 p.m.

They say: “Prince Parsley has lost his spice—-he’s flat and sour all the time. So, the Jester presents a quest: Find a truly happy person, and ask for his shirt! But where will he find one? What’s the secret to happiness?”

Val’s Take: As a former pre-kindergarten teacher, I can speak with authority on the efficacy of plays that are clearly meant for the daycare crowd. Pulling these off is not as easy it looks. If you’re unlucky, the performers will bring an unswallowable amount of cutesiness to the show. If you’re particularly unlucky, actors will assume that a lower age means lower standards.

However, Interact Story Theatre is a welcome edition to Capital Fringe and the family-friendly troupe are clearly proficient at engaging both the kindergarten contingent and their caretakers. Jack Novack and Alina Collins-Maldonado brought energy, humor and humanity to each of their bazillion roles. Their speedy costume and role changes curbed even the shortest attention spans and their references to Edward R. Murrow and MTV Cribs made the older audience members chuckle. The children in the front row clapped and chanted along to the introductions of the King and Queen of Spice and even the busy toddler in the back stared aptly at the stage as she climbed in and out of her seat.

Of course one of the virtues of The Shirt of Happiness is the universality of the overarching theme. “Finding True Happiness” is a far more interesting subject than say, “Eating Your Vegetables.” This search for happiness starts when the King and Queen of Spice invite entertainers to cheer up their sad son, Prince Parsely. One of them, a fool, tells Prince that if he wants to be glad again, he should find a truly happy man and ask him for his shirt. That the journey and not the goal will uncover the secret to true joy is a foregone conclusion, but thankfully, the trip entertains the crowd as well.

There’s a bit of preachiness in the delivery that occasionally acts as a detractor, but such is often the case with educational fare. Plus, it’s worth the price of admission to see Collins-Maldonado vamp it up as failed entertainer Ethel Mermaid and Novack to preen across the stage as famous singer Lala Lavosh.

The secret to happiness? Whatever it is, these actors seem to have found it. And their grinning is contagious.

See it if: You want to see a family friendly play that will actually entertain the whole family.

Skip it if: The idea of a room full of children makes you want to run in the other direction.