Hans Christian Andersen Tale For Children Lights Up The Bas Bleu Stage.
Reviewed by Tom Jones,
June 22, 2018
With guileless delight six talented performers take stage this season having great fun explaining why they are NOT“The Greatest Show on Earth.” No, there is nothing “great” or even “showy” in this charming silliness recounting of a Hans Christian Andersen tale. “The Flea and The Professor” is reportedly his last creation. He was nearly 70 when he came up with this story that few have read. I wonder what he might have been smoking at the time, as there is neither rhyme nor reason why this should ever see the light of day as a story, let alone as a stage musical. That said, Bas Bleu has produced a beguiling evening of fun. The cast has no worries about staying on key or in step, allowing the audience to have as much fun as they appear to be having.
Graeme Schultz has a gee-whiz charm that grabs the audience from the outset as The Professor. He has big ideas, but nothing that can amount to much. He longs to follow in his father’s footsteps in the air as a hot air balloonist. But first must find some means of employment, trying his luck as a carnival magician without much talent, and without much magic. His story is told by Sarah Paul-Glitch who begins the show as the story teller and ends up as The Professor’s wife. They are quite a pair. As his magician’s assistant, she is not willing to always disappear on stage or be sawed in half, so disappears from his life.
When The Professor’s luck and abilities have completely vanished, he scratches himself to find he has a flea. Not just any flea, but a flea with great ideas and a desire to be “a friend.” John Kean is probably six and one-half feet tall, and he emerges as the flea in The Professor’s life. He is a goofy wonder on his own. They develop an incredible friendship, making a pinky-pact to be lifelong buddies. They even develop a stage act that becomes unbelievably popular.
No, it makes no sense. But that is the charm of the entire 80-minute show of friendship and acceptance. And it is a musical. No melodies to carry you home, but they do provide winsome joy on stage. The show is a charmer.
Joining the three are Jennifer Brayas a 12-year-old spoiled and pouting Cannibal Princess, Kelly Forester as an over-the top Cannibal Queen, Michael Anthony Tatmon as the Cannibal King, and showing up everywhere doing everything is Paul Brewer as the Sea Captain, Loyal Subject, and everybody else. It is quite a troupe of rag-tag players, dressed in fashions that befit no one, but exuding delight at every silly moment. The Professor and his flea take their popular “show” around the world. They end upin an out-of-the-way island inhabited by cannibals – including the crazed cannibal royal family hungry for a human meal.
The total production is bizarre, and I found myself immersed in the infectious delight of the cast. Jordan Harrison wrote the script, and Director Jeffrey Bigger has done an amazing job of presenting the off-the-wall story. The show provides a sense of wonder, rarely found in current society.
Andersen was born in 1834 and became Denmark’s most famous author. His fairy tales include “The Emperor’s New Clothes, “The Little Mermaid,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Ugly Duckling”, “Frozen.” And the list goes on and on“The Flea” is rarely mentioned, but came to light as a stage musical written by Jordan Harrison. It received acclaim in 2011 receiving Barrymore Awards as Best Production of a Musical and Best Leading Man in a Musical. In the current Bas Bleu delight the“Not the Greatest” tackiness theme is apparent everywhere – the set, the costumes, the story. But the production itself is a real winner. Not the “Greatest,”but a real heartfelt winner.
“The Flea and The Professor”
Where: Bas Bleu Theatre Company
401 Pine Street, Fort Collins, CO 80524
When: To December 23, 2018
For Information: Telephone 970/498-8949