From now until May 26, the gang will be making families laugh in the Center for Puppetry Arts,’ “Brer Rabbit and Friends.” The production is based on the “Uncle Remus” tales by Georgia author Joel Chandler Harris.
“You will leave feeling like you had wonderful experience of just a great day hanging out with these characters,” said director Spencer Stephens.
The show has been recycled again and again since the center’s inception in 1978. John Ludwig adapted the script in 1984. Stephens is making his directorial debut, bringing a modern twist to the classic show. But he is no stranger to the show, as he played Brer Rabbit in 2005.
“The characters are a lot of fun,” Stephens said. “The comedy is great and the stories are timeless tales. … This is a fresh new take on the tales.”
The show presents seven stories wrapped into one, adding live music with a range of Southern African-American styles. Music director, pianist and narrator S. Renee Clark said Bryan Mercer composed the original music.
“It has a bluegrass and country feel,” she said.
This time around, Clark decided to give the show a “soulful feel” with tinges of Cajun, Gullah, soul, gospel, blues and jazz, all rolled into one.
“It’s about the brains of Brer Rabbit. He’s always able to outsmart others trying to trick him,” she said. “Every culture has had a version of a Brer Rabbit type of story.”
Stephens said the show is geared toward families, but that people of all ages will be entertained.
“The adults turn into little kids. … I wanted to translate the joy and energy we had in rehearsals into the performance,” he said. “The puppeteers really have taken their love of their characters and put it out there for the audience.”
The show has four puppeteers, who also double as musicians, playing the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion instruments and the trumpet. Puppeteers include Tim Sweeney as Brer Bear, Dolph Amick as Brer Fox, Jared Brodie as Brer Rabbit and Janeé Ann Smith as Sister Mud Turtle, Brer Buzzard and Baby Rabbit.
If you go:
o What: “Brer Rabbit and Friends”
o When: Now through May 26
o Where: Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St., Midtown
o Tickets: $16.50 for nonmembers and $9.25 for members
o Information: www.puppet.org