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"The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon"
CHILDREN’S MUSICAL: Downtown Cabaret, Bridgeport

Hey diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Who is not familiar with this nursery rhyme, an enduring memory of childhood? But does any one know what happened after the Dish ran away with the Spoon?

British writer/artist Mini Grey has taken on the challenge and solved this mystery. She carries the Dish and the Spoon through a series of escapades in “The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon,” Grey’s book, charmingly written and illustrated (and now out in hard cover), moves into a world of her quirky imagination.

This new take on the famous nursery rhyme inspired the Downtown Cabaret Theatre Children’s Company (with Artistic Director Bert Bernardi) to create an original musical for young audiences. Bernardi (as director and lyricist) is true to the Grey book, with parodies of familiar pop songs of the ’20 and ‘30s (when the story begins). Collaborating with musical arranger Scott Simonelli, he offers an entertaining little show—with song and dance and hi-jinks.

The Dish and the Spoon run away to New York City, become famous Broadway stars (a children’s “42nd Street”?), and subsequently lose all their money in the crash of ’29 (when Wall Street and the theater world go under). In the ‘30s, they turn into “Bonnie and Clyde”—and rob a bank. They are ultimately punished, giving children the message that it does not pay to steal. In short, the hero and heroine have their ups and downs, coping with real-life problems in their fairy-tale world. As for further events, we remain silent, except to say that every one lives happily ever after.

Is this a show for the nursery school set? Probably not, despite the emphasis on an old nursery rhyme. But it should speak to today’s somewhat older and more sophisticated children’s audiences.

As to performances, Bert Bernardi (the Spoon) and Maria Vee (the Dish) not only move and sing with consummate skill, but create two very endearing characters. Dressed in absurd, hilarious costumes—Bernardi with silvery metallic hair and Vee with a dish-like dress—they cavort appropriately through their make-believe world. They are backed up by simple sets and props, which slide smoothly across the stage. And four actors in multiple roles complete the cast, exaggerating their performances to get the ideas across to the young watchers.

-- Irene Backalenick
Jan. 18, 2008

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