The Rescuers | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Rescuers 

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The Rescuers, Lifeline Theatre. This remount of Christina Calvit and Jacquie Krupka's musical adaptation of The Rescuers (first staged in 1989) offers young audiences a charming adventure, compressing Margery Sharp's original story into 50 exciting minutes. At the helm of the work's resourceful trio of mice is the refined Bianca, who proves creative and courageous when motivated by her admiration for Bernard, a brave pantry mouse who's sought her help in freeing a Norwegian poet jailed in the Black Castle. Completing the rescue party is Neelah, a swashbuckling Norwegian mouse recruited as a translator.

Tiffany Scott, Warren Jackson, and Jill Stephens bring plenty of personality to their characters yet establish a great comic rapport too. The diminutive size of the protagonists, made portly by Elizabeth Shaffer's costumes, is cleverly emphasized by Alan Donahue's storybook-style inked backdrops and set pieces, made with oversize cotton swabs and pencils.

As directed by Dorothy Milne, the show is bright and fun but lacks dramatic urgency. Playing the jailer's "cruel and evil" cat, Mamelouk, Jason A. Phillips communicates little menace--but perhaps if he hadn't been given four other roles he might have had more energy for this crucial character. Staging the cat and mouse confrontations to convey a greater sense of danger would help boost the intensity of this breezily entertaining story.

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Performing Arts
June 26
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Chicago Works: Deborah Stratman Museum of Contemporary Art
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