Theater At Monmouth: “Tales From The Blue Fairy Book” (REVIEW)

Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2014 in Culture

Theater At Monmouth: “Tales From The Blue Fairy Book” (REVIEW)

by Andi Parkinson

After last year’s debut assignment reviewing performances at Theater at Monmouth (TAM), I was quite excited to take the task up again for New Maine Times. It was nice to be able to meet the extended family of young local actress Isabella Coulombe, performing for the first time with TAM, chat with Dawn McAndrews (who adapted the play from Andrew Lang’s 1889 “The Blue Fairy Book”) and “Welcome Home!” long-time TAM actors and favorite honorary Monmouth natives Bill Van Horn, Marc Cartier and Janis Stevens.

The play, TAM’s 45th season opener and this year’s Family Show production, opens with a bored young girl named Violet (Coulombe) in her grandmother’s attic on a rainy and stormy day, trying desperately to get some sort of cellphone signal- certainly a frustration many in Maine can relate to! Her grandmother (Wendy Way) finds her there and the two discuss Violet’s “antsiness” wanting to find something to do. So Grandmother digs out from a stack of dusty books one that she tells the girl “was one of your father’s favorites, when he was a boy”. The two sit together and Grandmother starts to read the first tale to Violet, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, as the characters from the book appear and act out the tales as narrated.

As the grandmother reads more stories,“The Bronze Ring” and “The White Cat”, Violet finds herself getting more and more drawn into the wonderfully fanciful stories- she loses her skepticism and her boredom fades quickly as she is drawn into the imaginative worlds within the book, discovering despite herself the same simple love of the adventures within the volume that her grandmother and father shared years before.

The play ends as Violet decides to read a story to her grandmother, “The Stars in the Sky” and in the narration, becomes the girl within the story who immerses herself within a magical brook and the light of twinkling stars reflecting upon the grass, trying to reach up and to be within the very stars in the sky. As she asks, “What is a dream, without a challenge?”, she “climbs stairs without steps” and finds herself surrounded with the joy and bliss of the stars.

A lovely, fanciful play- well acted and a true pleasure.


Cast (in order of appearance):

Violet: Isabella Coulombe
Grandmother: Wendy Way

  • East of the Sun/ West of the Moon

    White Bear/ Horse 2/ West Wind/ Prince: Ardarius Blakely
    Father/ Horse 3/ South Wind/ Old Servant: Michael Dix Thomas
    Daughter: Anna Doyle
    Old Woman/ North Wind: Wendy Way
    Horse 1/ East Wind/ Long-Nose Troll: Graham Emmons


  • The Bronze Ring
    Wise Woman/ Rag Woman: Wendy Way
    King/ Sultan: Graham Emmons
    Prime Minister/ Minister’s Son: Ardarius Blakely
    Gardener/ Gardener’s Son: Michael Dix Thomas
    Princess/ Herald: Anna Doyle


  • The White Cat
    Queen: Wendy Way
    Oldest Princess: Ardarius Blakely
    Middle Princess: Michael Dix Thomas
    Youngest Princess: Graham Emmons
    White Cat/ Prince: Anna Doyle


  • The Stars in the Sky
    Fairy Queen: Anna Doyle
    Young Girl: Isabella Coulombe
    Mill Pond/ Big Fish: Michael Dix Thomas
    Babbling Brook/ Dappled Horse: Ardarius Blakely
    Fairy Man: Graham Emmons


    Adapted by Dawn McAndrew
    Directed by Luke Bartholomew

    Production Team:

    Set Designer: Tricia A. Hobbs
    Costume Designer: Stephanie Peters
    Lighting Designer: Jim Alexander
    Sound Designer: Rew Tippen
    Stage Manager: Katie Mosher

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