Friday, August 22, 2008

Fringe: The Gargoyle Garden

Photo/R. Bratspies

It's hard to critique a children's musical--after all, I'm not the target audience--but I will say that Jeff LaGreca's latest work is the opposite of his a capella show, Minimum Wage. That works to his advantage, since kids are more likely to tune in for the killer plot than musicality, so my stovepipe hat comes off to The Gargoyle Garden. Crossing between Mary Poppins and Harry Potter, the show follows the eccentric Edgar Allen Densmore (Patrick Henney) as he tries to evade the evil Brother Keyes (John C. Taylor) long enough to befriend Annabel Lee (Emily Bordonaro); the easily digestible moral is that it's alright to be different. With the help of the chimney-sweeping narrator (talented Allan Gillespie) and a few friendly gargoyles (headlined by Brian DePetris), the show plays like a youthful Edward Scissorhands, and although at one point it practically steals the music to Sondheim's "You Are Not Alone," the show is sincere enough at heart that such similarities comes across more as homage than plagiarism. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "Not abnormal but abysmal," and 5 being "Mysterious and spooky, and all together ooky," The Gargoyle Garden gets a 3.

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