‘Skippyjon Jones’ a fun, feline fiesta

It doesn’t get much more relatable than trying to figure out who you are (while navigating whom everybody else wants you to be). Throw in an extremely active imaginary life and boom: “Skippyjon Jones and the Cirque de Ole” could be about any single one of us.

If you go

Runs through June 8, 2016

www.emeraldcitytheatre.com

 

Even if we’re not cats who believe ourselves to be Chihuahuas.

Fans of the popular book series by Judy Schachner will love the exuberant portrayal of Skippyjon by lovably earnest Yando Lopez. His “sisters” Ju-Ju Bee, Jilly Boo and Jezebel Jones (the energetic Kiersten Frumkin, Jordan Shomer and Ethan Warren) egg on Skippyjon’s exploits and are the perfect–and devoted–audience to witness his mischief. Long-suffering Mama Junebug Jones (Amanda Giles, who especially shines in a teachable moment of empathy regarding Mama’s “life” before motherhood) doubles nicely as the Ring Master in the destination of Skippyjon’s (and his alter ego’s) adventure. Sure, Mama said not to play in the wardrobe during his time out, but surely she didn’t mean for Skippyjon to not help his (imaginary) friends get their (imaginary) act into the (imaginary…?) Cirque de Ole. Right?

As part of Emerald City’s season of discovery, “Skippyjon Jones and the Cirque du Ole” pretty much takes the ol’ improv trope of “Yes, and … ” to greater heights. A cat who wants to be a dog? A bunch of dogs who want to be a circus balancing act? A “strongman” (the incredibly animated and hilarious Matt Frye) who decides wearing a tutu ain’t half bad? Yes, yes and yes.

Skippyjon Jones’ plot line, while fun, isn’t Emerald City’s strongest. (Upon leaving the theater, my 6-year-old was supremely concerned as to whether or not Putzi Shtrungleboot ever got his beloved costume back–a major crux of the story, even deserving its own song!) But the music is exceptional (an instrumental “What’s new, Pussycat?” was downright inspired and the original score is terrific), the choreography is stellar, the set makes you want to run off and join the circus and the characters’ dialogue is witty as heck. Director Michael Rashid, his cast and crew clearly had fun with this one–and it shows.

Running at around an hour, “Skippyjon Jones and the Cirque du Ole” will be loved by fans of the daring pup/kitty variety, little kids who don’t exactly know who they are yet (but certainly don’t want to be told in advance) and anyone who’s ever felt the urge to make their life a bit more of a fiesta.

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