By JARREAU FREEMAN
Abington-based theater company Storybook Musical Theatre is giving the Grimm fairytale “Little Red Riding Hood” a retro twist. With an aging, greaser wolf and spunky Little Red, along with a few doo wop songs, this rendition of the timeless classic is sure to leave audiences having a good time.
Celebrating its 22nd season, Storybook wanted to retell a tale that audiences in the past have “eaten up,” said Director Patricia Goldberg July 1. With an original script and songs, Goldberg said they were excited to bring back a musical that has been so well-received by audiences in the past.
“Little Red Riding Hood” follows the story of Ruthie, an audacious youngster who receives a handmade, red riding hood from her grandmother for her birthday. When Ruthie learns her grandma has fallen ill, she packs up a goody basket, throws on her hood and goes to pay her a visit. In route to grandma’s house, Ruthie meets an old, lonely, Marlon Brando-wannabe wolf who decides that Ruthie will be his next meal, and he tricks her into taking a “shortcut” to grandma’s house. When Ruthie arrives to the house, she notices there is something a little different about grandma.
“Little Red Riding Hood, I think, is what every girl wants to be,” said Glenside resident Maggie Griffin-Smith, who portrays Ruthie in the musical. “She’s smart and spunky, and I think she’s a great role model. She’s really a go-getter, and she’s brave.
“She’s a little more of a rough and tumble character, and I really responded to that about her. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, she likes to go in the woods and explore, which I think is a great message for all kids.”
The wolf on the other hand, who sports jeans and a biker jacket, was once the leader of the pack but fell on hard times, described Tom Tansey, who plays the wolf. As a result, he’s been wandering the woods alone, growing hungry by the minute, when he crosses paths with Ruthie and decides she will make a delicious meal.
What Tansey said he enjoys most about playing the wolf are the songs he gets to sing.
“The songs are so much fun,” he said. “The first number, ‘Poor Lonely Wolf,’ is kind of a ’50s doo wop that we’ve put a modern spin on, and it’s a lot of fun to sing. I had a lot of fun with a song where the wolf is convincing Little Red to take a shortcut, which turns into a tango. There are so many different styles of music and the lyrics are so clever, that it’s my favorite part.”
Along with the fun they hope to generate for audiences, Goldberg said there’s an important message at the show’s core.
“The basic moral of the story is [to teach children] to be weary of strangers, listen to their parents and be wise,” she said.
The show has already debuted at Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia and at Gratz College in Cheltenham Township, and Storybook Musical Theatre will perform their final installment of “Little Red Riding Hood” July 8 through 19 at the Klein JCC Theater, located at 1010 Jamison Avenue, Philadelphia. Tickets are $12 for children and $14 for adults. Show times are Tuesday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m. For more information, call 215-659-8550 or visit www.storybookmusical.org.
“I really want kids to have fun and get a sense that they can do this,” Griffin-Smith said. “That they can get up, sing, dance, act and show people who they are. I also want them to get that excitement and catch that bug of waiting to perform and be outgoing. That’s what I hope.”
Follow Jarreau Freeman on Twitter @JarreauFreeman.