Featured in our recent roundup of holiday shows other than The Nutcracker, Boston Children's Theatre's production of The Velveteen Rabbit is a fantastic experience for even the youngest theatergoers.
The adaptation of the classic story by Margery Williams absolutely captivates. The actors, lively puppets, and adorable set bring to life the stuffed toy and the boy who makes him real. Child and teen actors add an authentic feel, quite possibly with the added effect of infecting young audience members with the acting bug. In fact, I might need to check out some local acting and theater classes now that my girls have seen other kids on the big stage!
As soon as the house lights dim, any kids who have seen Pixar's Toy Story recognize right away how toys might come to life when humans leave the room or fall asleep. This concept continues to delight the audience throughout. The show includes several laugh-out-loud scenes, a few across-the-audience oohs and aahs, and a couple of scary moments that might make the very youngest cry out. Those scary moments take place in the boy's imagination and pass quickly, so everyone seemed comforted soon enough when we got back to the boy and his soft rabbit.
Perhaps best of all, this show is truly great for the whole family. It can get everyone in the family thinking about the real meaning of the holidays and inspire children to hold on tight to their favorite stuffed toys with an extra helping of love and appreciation. It also offers the perfect first experience for young children. Running only one hour in length and including a ten-minute intermission halfway through, even the squirmiest tots can manage to make it through the show without additional breaks.
The seats are comfortable chairs on raised steps that make it possible for kids to see even if they wind up with an adult sitting in front of them. Food isn't permitted in the theater, but beverages are, and both are available at the snack bar. For a final thrill, the actors appear in costume in the lobby to greet the audience.
Parking is always at a premium in the South End, but the directions to the venue include several nearby garages with special rates. My family prefers to take the T into town and make a day of it. The closest stops are Back Bay on the Orange Line or Copley on the Green Line, both offering a short walk to the theater with a few good places to grab a bite along the way, including Flour and the South End Buttery on Clarendon Street and Emilio's Pizza and Picco on Tremont.
The Velveteen Rabbit runs through December 20 at Calderwood Pavilion with one or two matinees each day. Check the website for show times and to order tickets.
Photo: Faye Giordano-Niland as ‘Boy’ with the ‘Velveteen Rabbit,’ played by Tristan Sullivan, in Boston Children’s Theatre’s 7th annual production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Photo by Sublime Photo Art.