Review: 'Winnie-the-Pooh' by Landmark Community Theatre

by Nancy Sasso Janis, Critic Landmark Community Theatre will present the live theatre show 'Winnie-the-Pooh' this weekend, but I was invited to attend one of the final rehearsals at the Thomaston Opera House. The show opens on January 31 and tickets are available on the Landmark website or at the box office.

The action takes place in the beloved Hundred Acre Wood, where Winnie the Pooh is once again in search of honey. His pals Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore and Christopher Robin are all on hand, and together the animals learn about teamwork, friendship, and sharing snacks. Based on the beloved characters of A.A. Milne, this live theatre show with interactive sing-a-long truly is the perfect first pick for young audiences.

This cast is made up of young actors very well directed by David Verdosci, the only adult in the cast who appears at the beginning of each act as a "voice/storyteller." Mr. Verdosci admitted that the cast has missed some recent rehearsals due to the weather, but this cast is clearly ready for their close-ups. This director is so very encouraging to his cast members and it was heartwarming to see the mutual respect they shared. "Winnie-the-Pooh is just fun," he told me and it showed in his production.

The talented Connor Dunn is perfectly cast as the title character; he is cute, loveable and very funny. Connor's dad and LCT Executive Director Jeff Dunn was on hand to block the curtain call. Young Nicholas Santovasi is a strong actor in the role of Christopher Robin, and Megan Foell is simply adorable as Piglet, right down to her stutter. Eeyore will be played by Blaise Russo. Jonathan Yatco has the perfect British accent as Owl, as well as one of the best costumes. Noah Scott has a cameo as Tigger.

Lots of young ladies cover the roles of the other forest creatures. Rachel Foell is Pooh's buddy Rabbit. Kristen Foell is a commanding helicopter parent in the role of Kanga, while Elisabeth Leifert (last seen in Ragtime at the Warner) is her little Roo. The Woodland Animals include Hailey Auburn as a skunk, Jillian Alena as a zebra, Abigail Scott as a beaver, Chloe Beach as another rabbit, Olivia Sevas as a fox, and Gabi and Sami Verdosci as yellow bunnies. Each and every one is impossibly cute.

The beautiful set is painted in perfect pastels and includes some cute little details like the requisite bee hive and a huge birthday cake. The ladies in the costume shop came up with great whole-body costumes for the kids, but Owl's and Pooh's were my favorites. Their impressive make up added to the authenticity of the critters. There will be some cartoon-like sound effects and some not scary special effects.

All performances of 'Winnie-the-Pooh' will include a sing-a-long of children's classics and will be followed by a meet and greet for photos. On Saturday, Jan. 31 there are performances at 2:00pm and 6:00pm and on Sunday, Feb. 1 there is a matinée at 2:00pm. Tickets are $10.

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