The Little Prince on stage in St Louis, Missouri

BWW Reviews: COCA Theatre Company's Extraordinary THE LITTLE PRINCE

If you’re looking for thoughtful entertainment that’s suitable for children and adults then you should definitely check out the COCA Theatre Company’s current production of The Little Prince based on the classic book by Antoine de Saint Exupery (music by Rick Cummins with book and lyrics byJohn Scoullar). Even if you’ve never read the story, you’ll still be captivated by the whimsical, yet decidedly philosophical, journey of a little boy who travels the stars seeking answers while delivering certain truths. An excellent cast combines professional and non-professional actors who carry this material well. Best of all, there are stunning visual elements and musical numbers that act to enhance the overall experience.

The Little Prince is traveling the universe seeking knowledge and discovering much about the differences between his own planet and the others that he visits. Consistently he finds that those who inhabit other worlds are just too caught up in the business of running them to appreciate their beauty. A chance encounter on Earth with a man known as the Aviator brings them both a bit of enlightenment that will forever change their perspectives.

Michael Harp, so good at The Muny this past season, absolutely sparkles as the Little Prince, delivering his songs with such energy and life that he provides an invigorating presence whenever he’s on stage. Michael Beatty is also sharp as the Aviator, a frustrated artist turned pilot, who’s had to make an emergency landing in the desert. Beatty also displays a fine voice that meshes well with the material. April Strelinger does nice work as the Fox, and her playful attitude acts as a perfect counter balance to the more serious aspects of the show. Patrick Blindauer (King, Business Man, Lamplighter) amuses with his variety of fussy portrayals, and Will Bofiglio does the same with his trio of roles (Conceited Man, Drunkard, Geographer). Kimmie Kid makes a lovely and graceful impression as the Rose, and RhonniRose Mantilla, Halley Stein, Olivia Dudenhoffer, and Grace Knight neatly round out the cast as dancers and members of the ensemble.

Shanara Gabrielle‘s direction is very well conceived and executed. Gabrielle is aided by the extraordinary efforts of Peter and Margery Spack who are responsible for an amazing set and stunning visual projections. Pianist/Conductor Charlie Mueller’s musical direction is spot on, with this pleasant score nicely realized by Mueller, Anna Bird (cello), Colin Healy (guitar/violin), Benjamin Majchrzak (percussion, drums), and Rick Steiling (bass). Lou Bird’s costumes delineate each character, and Maureen Berry’s lighting is evocative and atmospheric.

Do yourself a favor and take the family to see COCA Theatre Company’s production of The Little Prince, it’s genuine delight. It continues through March 14, 2015 at COCA.