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The Little Prince

If there are any limitations on the abilities of this joyful company of actors, none are apparent.

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Will Ketter as The Aviator and Anton Spivack as The Little Prince in a scene from the EPIC Players Inclusion Company’s production of “The Little Prince” (Photo credit: Ric Sechrest)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s wondrous fairy tale, The Little Prince (Le petit prince), has been filmed as a musical, a cartoon, and a musical cartoon and even occasionally staged live, but rarely as energetically and lovably as the EPIC Players Inclusion Company’s production at the Flea Theatre.  The EPIC Players is “a neuro-inclusive theatre company that uses the performing art to empower artists with developmental disabilities.”

If there are any limitations on the abilities of this joyful company of actors performing The Little Prince, none are apparent as each and every actor on stage carries out his or her part with vigor and humor.  They catch the whimsy of Saint-Exupéry’s metaphorical tale of an Aviator (William Ketter, combining thoughtfulness and passion) whose airplane goes down in the African desert during World War II where he meets a strange blonde lad who eventually changes his way of looking at the world.

John Scoullar’s adaptation preserves the essence of the story while also making it totally stageworthy and meaningful for modern audiences whose tolerance for imaginative flights of fancy has been subsumed by the brashness of the superhero culture.

Imani Youngblood as The Snake in a scene from the EPIC Players Inclusion Company’s production of “The Little Prince” (Photo credit: Ric Sechrest)

Early in the story, the Aviator expresses his distress with his parents who lacked the ability to understand his drawings which the Little Prince (Anton Spavick, a tad reticent, but always fully present) immediately is able to interpret, linking the two spirits for their ensuing journey as they both realize the need for loving someone and being needed.

The Little Prince tells the Aviator of his strange homeland on a distant planet where he nursed a very self-centered Rose (Samantha Elisofon, a total giddy delight) and wonders about his baobab tree.  He is forced to travel where he meets a number of oddball characters from whom he learns about life:  A Business Woman who does little but make lists of figures (Kim Carter, properly cool and collected); the Conceited Man (Nick Moscato, very convincingly self-involved); the Geographer (Ben Hill, great at studiously studying his maps to the exclusion of all else); the King (Gideon Pianko, who clearly enjoyed his moment to be pompous); and the Lamplighter (played by Gianluca Cirafici with patience and dedication) whose job is made difficult by the tiny size of his planet.

Two characters who register slightly stronger due to the size of their parts are the sinuous Snake (Imani Youngblood, who adds a sexy note plus some pretty singing) and the Fox (Miles Butler who nearly steals the show with his deft, athletic moves and sympathetic line readings).

Samantha Elisofon as The Rose in a scene from the EPIC Players Inclusion Company’s production of “The Little Prince” (Photo credit: Ric Sechrest)

Jesus Chevez and Talia Eapen perform as two Artists who illustrate in chalk, the simple jottings of the Aviator, the stories of the Little Prince, and otherwise add depth and unity to the plot.

It’s impossible not to feel some sadness as the Aviator and the Little Prince are forced to part despite their newfound fondness and mutual empathy.

The performers are all terrific, but the brilliantly inventive and colorful costumes designed by Cat Fisher and the reserved, but ample stage set by Ryo Tatsumi make this production worth a trip to TriBeCa.  Props by Talia Eapen help give each character a uniqueness of his or her own.

Rick Moscato as The Conceited Man in a scene from the EPIC Players Inclusion Company’s production of “The Little Prince” (Photo credit: Ric Sechrest)

The lighting by Zach Weeks makes the most of the small Siggy space and Isabella Scappaticci’s ambient sound design subtly transforms the on stage activities.

The director Travis Burbee (assisted by Andrew Kader) allows for no dead spots.  This Little Prince moved with professional precision, yet never seems forced.

The Little Prince (November 10-18, 2018)

EPIC Players Inclusion Company

The Flea Theatre/The Siggy, 20 Thomas Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 757-619-8224 or visit http://www.epicplayersnyc.org

Running time: 90 minutes including one intermission

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Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (292 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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