Maurice Sendak’s Max embarks upon an epic adventure…and the audience is along for the ride…as Vancouver’s Presentation House company brings its interactive adaptation of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE to Two River Theater for six performances this weekend.
First published back in 1963, “Where the Wild Things Are” quickly took its place as a boomer-generation touchstone; the picture-book tale (of rebellious young Max, and his supperless-bedtime voyage to an island of king-sized fantastical creatures) winning its author-illustrator Maurice Sendak a coveted Caldecott Medal, before going on to be adapted into an animated short, a live-action feature, and even an opera.
Somewhere along the way, Scotland-based TAG Theatre was inspired to turn this classic story of imagination, family ties — and an angry little boy’s exploration of his wild side — into an interactive “guided play experience” that successfully crossed the pond to become a staple touring production of Vancouver’s Presentation House Theatre. Beginning with two days of school-show matinees today and Friday, and continuing for six public performances on June 11 and 12, Two River Theater hosts the Canadian company’s touring troupe in an engagement pitched at kids ages 3 to 7, and their (big and hairy and snaggletoothed?) adult companions.
In the production directed by Kim Selody, the “highly interactive” element comes into play as “the audience helps transform Max’s bedroom into the various landscapes of his adventures.” There’s also a suggestion that the members of the audience serve as surrogates for the Wild Things in all their horned, fanged, beaked and furry glory; a feature that surely beats the CGI out of the latest virtual/interactive diversion, for kids to whom there’s nothing quite like the nighttime-muted colors and tactile experience of the original hard-copy book.
“Where the Wild Things Are” presents performances at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (tickets to the June 9 and 10 school shows are $15; call 732-345-1400 for more details). Take it here for reservations, where you’ll also find up-to-date info on Two River Theater Company’s current mainstage production of “I Remember Mama,” as well as a June 20 live podcast recording with host Alec Baldwin and special guest Kevin Kline.