By Heddy Lahmann-Rosen and Ilanna Saltzman; Directed by Gretchen Van Lente
Produced by Bond Street Theatre
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.26.16
VENUE #6: The Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street
by Mary-Anne Wright on 8.24.16
Ilanna Saltzman and Heddy Lahmann in Amelia and Her Paper Tigers. Photo by Daniel Williams.
BOTTOM LINE: Amelia and Her Paper Tigers will take your young ones on a fun adventure through time.
Amelia and Her Paper Tigers is a creative re-telling of the story of aviatrix Amelia Earhart through the use of music, puppetry, and circus arts. The story is centered around Earhart’s quote: “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers….” Saltzman and Lahmann use this quote, along with Earhart’s story, to celebrate the notions of courage and adventure.
Ilanna Saltzman and Heddy Lahmann play themselves, as performers telling a story, and also transform into an array of different characters throughout the production. Lahmann predominantly plays the role of Earhart, while Saltzman convincingly transforms into the characters with whom Earhart interacts. We meet Earhart as a young child and follow her journey, along with some creative embellishments, through to her first plane ride and finally her disappearance. Before fully entering into her story, the performers mention that Earhart went missing and that no one knows where she is. This foretelling helps to ease children's potential emotional response: they know it is coming and therefore will be more emotionally prepared.
A lot of the set is imagined or "invisible," and the performers cleverly refer to this element of theatrical play by mentioning that the object is indeed invisible. This mode of setting up and then deconstructing the suspension of disbelief creates a relaxed and fun environment, making you feel like you have been let in on the game.
The transitions are also well crafted through the use of an imagined time machine. Early in the show, Lahmann and Ilman set up the notion of traveling back in time, which requires audience participation. The instructions are clear, and at the performance I attended, adults and children alike were happy to play along each time this convention was used.
References to popular culture and music, such as a breakdown of Beyonce’s "Single Ladies," help to keep the story line relevant to the youthful audience, as well as fresh for those who are already familiar with Earhart’s story. Music (with the occasional use of a banjo), circus arts, and innovative puppetry ensure that the production holds the audience's attention throughout. If you are looking to provide kids with a pleasant and educational theatrical experience at FringeNYC, Amelia and Her Paper Tigers is a great choice.
(Amelia and Her Paper Tigers plays at VENUE #6: The Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street, through August 26, 2016. The running time is 55 minutes. Performances are Sun 8/14 at Noon; Thu 8/18 at 4:30; Sat 8/20 at 6; Thu 8/25 at 3:15; and Fri 8/26 at 5:45. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit bondst.org.)
Amelia and Her Paper Tigers is written and performed by Heddy Lahmann and Ilanna Saltzman. Directed by Gretchen Van Lente. Produced by Bond Street Theatre. Puppet and Props Design by Gretchen Van Lente. Lighting Design by Creative Advisor Olivia Harris. Board Operator is Jessica Pantano and Lauren Gentry. Box Office is Lauren Goldberger.