The Borrowers @ The Carmel Out-Door Theater
Based on a well known series of books for children by Mary Norton, “The Borrowers” saw its’ most recent adaptation (Arrietta) by the Studio Ghibli brand of family friendly anime features. It’s now being brought to the musical stage after a storied history; made available in the shows program. It seems a long journey that spans decades and involves the recent passing of the shows composer. The book was written by and the show directed by Walt deFaria, whose passion for the material stretches back to the 1970's. This is also the first play to be performed at the venue since the Outdoor Forest Theater’s closure back in 2013.
The basic premise of the story surrounds a small family of “Borrowers” who live beneath the floor boards of an English home in the country. Pod, his wife, and their daughter; Arrietta. They’re a tight knit family but they haven’t had any contact with others of their kind in a very long while. They live off the human residents of the home, “borrowing” random household items for their own use. They must remain hidden from human eyes or else risk “Emigration” to the outside world.
Jared Warren Hussey commands a strong lead as the family Patriarch. His vocals remain strong throughout the show and his mannerisms are perfect to the character he plays- cautious, a little mischievous, and always looking out for his family. He hones a character that is charismatic, likeable, and always on point from the first moment he steps on stage in the opening number. Gracie Moore Poletti stars opposite, a nurturing maternal figure who counters Pods caution with encouragement. And Gracie Balistreri features as the curious Arrietta, whose desire to visit the “Outside world” may bring her family to ruin. With long flowing curls that seem to catch in the wind, Baliesteri prances across the stage with active enthusiasm and captures the imagination of children everywhere.
But no story exists without their antagonists- and in this case, the upstairs Humans get some of the juicest tunes and most elaborate comedy in the show. Played to the hilt by stage veterans (and real life partners) Phylis and Mitch Davis; the two residents of the home have taken in a young boy from London and it may only be a matter of time until one of them sneaks more than a glancing peak at the little creatures in the floor. To say anything more may spoil a few pleasant suprises, but the upstairs neighbors do receive a visit from three local men with positions of some importance.
The play is good family entertainment and should, no doubt, make it to your list of things to do these next several weekends.
4 out of 5.