Miss Bianca: The Adventures of the Rescuers in the Ice Palace | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Miss Bianca: The Adventures of the Rescuers in the Ice Palace 

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MISS BIANCA: THE ADVENTURES OF THE RESCUERS IN THE ICE PALACE, Lifeline Theatre. In a frigid rock-crystal ice palace poor orphaned Patience lives in virtual slavery under the keen eyes of three eerie robot maidservants, a sniffly butler named Skink, and the cruel Grand Duchess herself, so coldhearted that her gowns are festooned with icicles. The brave and clever yet always ladylike Miss Bianca and her faithful sidekick Bernard are determined to liberate the abused child and deliver her to a loving adoptive family--a pretty tall order for two mice. They endure many terrors, including pursuit by ravenous bloodhounds through snow-swept forests, before being awarded the Jean-Luc Fromage medals for their valor.

Clocking in at just over an hour, James Sie's adaptation of a Margery Sharp novel, part of her classic children's series, retains all the fanciful humor of the original, most notably in its satire on methods of espionage and warfare. Eric Lane Barnes's original score features musical styles ranging from the Sondheim-esque "I Remember Mice" to the opening ballad's calliope doo-wop. The 11 characters are given vivid personalities so distinct one can scarcely believe five actors play them all. Particularly fine work comes from Jennifer Lee Jellicorse as the unflappable Miss Bianca and Patrick Blashill as Bernard, as stalwart as James E. Grote's Duchess is grotesque. Director Frances Limoncelli incorporates plenty of audience participation: on the day I attended the little boy entrusted by Miss Bianca with a message for Bernard charged unhesitatingly onto the stage to carry out his mission.

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