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Stage Review: 'Corduroy' is short and sweet

Monday, January 12, 2004

By Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Corduroy" is, of course, the popular 1968 children's book by Don Freeman about Lisa Carolina Evelina Brown, newly arrived in New York City from the rural South. She needs friends and finds one in Corduroy, who may be missing a button but definitely has all his marbles.



When: 7 p.m. tonight, Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, East Liberty; 7 p.m. Wed., Gateway High School, Monroeville; 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Pine-Richaland High School, Pine; 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Fri., Moon High School; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sat., Mt. Lebanon High School.
Tickets:$9.50 - $12; at door or 412-321-5520.


Brought here by Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, Theatreworks USA, one of the country's leading touring pro theaters for children, has adapted "Corduroy" into a sprightly 45-minute musical, with a book by Cusi Cram and music and lyrics by Scott Davenport Richards. Well directed and with recorded accompaniment, it boasts a lively cast of six who perform with plenty of invention.

The little girl in front of me looked quizzically at her mother when the show began with a jive-talking street musician, but he proved a genial narrator of Lisa's story. The 10 or so songs, drawing on a mixture of bebop and jive that occasionally suggests rap, generate energy. Book and lyrics are often clever, as in the relationship between Lisa and her mom and in the by-play among the three unsold dolls in the department store.

Carey Brown's Lisa is an engaging motor-mouth, and Robert Rivera doubles spunkily as a neighborhood bully and Corduroy. Others double, too -- I especially liked the whiff of Mae West in Amanda-Mae Goodridge's ballerina doll and Josie.

If you haven't been able to buy tickets for the big musical at the Benedum, you can see "Corduroy" for far less, and you can take the little kids, too.

Post-Gazette drama critic Christopher Rawson can be reached at 412-263-1666 .

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