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Flight of the Dodo: Press
Dec 20, 2008 – Feb 22, 2009

From the Chicago Sun-Times

KidSeries' 'Dodo' takes glorious flight
January 2, 2009
By Jennifer Burklow

On its face, "Flight of the Dodo" may seem like a simple scatological story complete with the bathroom humor adored by its target audience, 5- to 10-year-olds. But this new musical at Lifeline Theatre is about much more than scat. At its core, the play-- based on Peter Brown's charming book of the same name -- is an uplifting tale of friendship, teamwork and appreciating one another's differences.

This world-premiere KidSeries production highlights those attributes through Robert Kauzlaric's accurate adaptation, Victoria Delorio's bouncy music and lyrics (with Kauzlaric) and Paul S. Holmquist's deft direction. All are Lifeline ensemble members.

The story takes flight when Penguin (Patrick Blashill/John Ferrick) is pooped on by a gaggle of high-flying Canada geese. Miffed because he has just donned a spiffy new jacket, Penguin calls a meeting of his fellow Waddlers (as non-flying birds are known): Ostrich (Sienna Harris), Cassowary (Jenny Lamb) and Kiwi (Eliza Stoughton). Penguin's goal is to take to the sky to get a bird's-eye view of the world and show the Flappers (as the flightless birds refer to their flying brethren) a thing or two.

That, of course, is easier said than done. As the cheerful crew of misfits experiments with different types of inept flying machines, we learn more about these earthbound creatures. Incorporating interesting facts into a script is one of the many things Lifeline adaptations do so well. As the Waddlers learn to work together, they and the audience learn about each bird. Ostrich, for example, is the largest and fastest bird on Earth. Cassowary is shy and secretive; Kiwi is nocturnal with a keen sense of smell, and Penguin is a super swimmer.

Adding to "Dodo's" delightfulness is that each of Penguin's friends gives voice to the accent of its native habitat, so Ostrich (from Africa) speaks in a regal tone, and Cassowary (Australia) and Kiwi (New Zealand) affect Down Under accents complete with slang. Curiously, Penguin sounds American even though penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere. Jennifer Reeves Wilson, who adroitly handles all the other acting parts including the geese, provides the honkers with a Canadian accent.

The Waddlers finally solve their dilemma while singing the catchy "Four Birds Are Smarter Than One." As in the book, the solution is a hot-air balloon -- named in tribute to the flightless and extinct dodo bird. Making a hot-air balloon "fly" in a small space creates a directing and acting challenge; director Holmquist and his cast are up to the task. With a puffy-looking blue-and-white sky as the backdrop, it's easy to believe that Penguin and his friends are flying as they move the gondola around.

From Chicago Stage Review

Flight of the Dodo SOARS!
January 5, 2009
By Robert Andersen

Lifeline Theatre’s latest adaptation of Flight of the Dodo is a delightful flight of fancy. In general, children’s books are based on fantasy and the fantastic and as such provide great exercise for the imagination. Bringing this to the stage, a world of fantasy in itself requires a delicate yet determined mind. The collaborative efforts of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble members Robert Kauzlaric (Adaptation), Victoria DeIorio (Original Music) and Paul S. Holmquist (Director) have done a wonderful job bringing Peter Brown’s fanciful story of community co-operation to life.

While showing off his new expensive coat Penguin receives an unwelcome deposit from a flock of Geese flying by. Incensed that he will never be able to payback their disregard he gathers his other flightless feathered friends (Ostrich, Cassowary, and Kiwi) and rallies them to his cause - the need to fly. The entertaining foursome of "waddlers" arrives at their final solution, a hot air balloon, and they’re off. Each member of the team has dreams of what being high in the sky would be like from licking a cloud to "target pooping". After a death defying stunt show for a passing group of Canadian geese, our heroes find themselves being tossed about by a dark and scary storm. Unable to summon help by yelling to the geese, now on the ground don’t ya know, Penguin uses his new found talent to let one fly right at them.

There are many enjoyable aspects to this show. The story’s adapted dialogue blends nicely with the original music and lyrics of Victoria DeIorio, which were well sung by the entire ensemble. Penguin’s opening song seems a little rushed and as I result I missed some of the lyrics; however the harmonies and choral work is wonderful. The only music decision I question is putting a microphone on the Storm Cloud. Kimberley G. Morris’s costume designs are exceptionally delightful. The four female players all use accents to highlight their bird’s countries of origin, and have studied their bird’s personalities. They are all entertaining but I have to say Eliza Stoughton, as the Kiwi, captured my attention from start to finish. As a show about "poop" there is not an excess of potty humor.

Flight of the Dodo is a charmingly creative production that engages the audience on many levels. The children are captivated and adults have a wonderful time as well. Once again, Lifeline Theatre’s Kidseries proves to be a perfect destination for family fun! I recommend this show for all ages, 5 and up.


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