It’s a lovely story time at Wild Swan
ANN ARBOR – It’s story hour at Wild Swan this week.
Unlike many of the plays this young people’s company performs, Owl’s Winter, is a series of story vignettes performed by Sandy Ryder as The Owl, and Hilary Cohen in multiple ensemble roles.
Owl’s Winter is a collection of stories based on Arnold Lobel’s “Owl at Home,” created to engage the youngest theater-goers. In one story, Owl encounters strange bumps at the end of his bed as he lays down to sleep (his feet). In another, the moon seems to follow him home while he is out for an evening stroll (the kids love seeng the owl get startled every time he stops, turns round and sees the moon). In a third, Owl makes tear-water tea when he runs out of water for the real thing.
For “The Owl and the Cricket,” there is a delightful audience engagement with the audience. The Owl, it seems, is sad because she is not getting any mail on her on-stage mailbox. So, Ryder, Cohen and staff hand out paper and crayons for kids to write letters to the Owl. That leads into a surprise for the kids at the end.
The content and production is best for preschool and early elementary-school-aged students. The set for the story is a storybook one-piece panel showing the inside of Owl’s cottage. Ryder conveys her character with a feathery owl headpiece, and brown and white costume. Cohen partners up with Wild Swan’s prop and stage pieces like the beautiful stalking moon and the cricket in “The Owl and The Cricket.” Both actresses complement and play off one another beautifully.
These stories are very simple and lovely, and utterly relatable to the young children, who seemed riveted during the performance I saw.