Young People’s Theatre’s charming adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are returns to the stage by popular demand until March 30th, and it is sure to please. Directed by Kim Selody and aimed at children ages 3-7, Where The Wild Things Are is an interactive adventure that involves its young audience in the cherished story of Max (Raes Calvert) and his Wild Things. In this version, the children gather on mats around the space and take on the personae of the Wild Things, much to their delight and excitement. Narrating the events of Max's adventure and keeping a watch for any out of hand Wild Things is Linda A. Carson. She also doubles as Max's mother and helps coax the story along by choosing volunteers (both child and adult) to help facilitate the proceedings.
With the children sitting restlessly on mats surrounding the space and their parents/guardians overseeing from chairs at the back, Carson begins reading from Sendak’s book, only to be interrupted numerous times by Max's disturbances that amuse the young crowd, eager for their storybook hero to wreak havoc on his mother's quiet reading session. After being sent to bed (without any dinner), the performance truly becomes interactive as Max builds his imaginative world with the help of his wide-eyed young audience. The children help Max and Carson create a jungle, an ocean, and a host of Wild Things, culminating in a full-on dance party with the entire audience, each donning a Wild Thing mask and exerting some pent-up energy.
It’s not all jumping, yelling and screaming, however. Calvert and Carson periodically halt the story to pose questions to the young audience about their thoughts on Max's adventure. At the heart of the story, is an imaginative world born out of loneliness and frustration, an aspect of the story not lost among the children who answer the actors' queries. Amidst the chaos of the Wild Things is a sense of empathy for Max, and it is clear that the emotions that drive Max are the same emotions that drive the young audience.
Those who have read Maurice Sendak’s book will enjoy themselves immensely with YPT’s adaptation. While aimed at a young audience, the adults monitoring their children’s behaviours are all clearly engaged in the performance as well. It’s rare for a show intended for youth to ring true with adults as well, but Where The Wild Things Are not only manages that feat, but excels at it. There isn’t a dull moment in the show, not that you would expect one with a room full of Wild Things afoot.
Where The Wild Things Are runs from March 4th-30th with two shows a day during March Break (8th-15th). Tickets are $37.29 for adults, and $31.64 for kids and seniors. It is recommended for children aged 3-7 (JK-Grade 2).
photo credit: Chris van der Schyf