While children may enjoy this musical tale of toy soldiers and music box dancers longing to be human, adults should steer clear. The overly sentimental text drips with simplistic life lessons and clichéd directives for happy living that border on the ridiculous.
Marguerite (Serena Dolinsky), a porcelain Victorian doll, keeps close watch over a magical book of legends that lays out the process by which a doll may become a human child. One of nine dolls banished to the attic by her fast-growing owner, Marguerite intends to flee her doll's life, no matter the cost to her stuffed, fragile friends. As Marguerite sets out to become a real girl, it's clear that kinder, gentler dolls deserve the transformative magic more than she. For instance, Just Plain Katy (Annie Mackay), a rag doll, is kind and considerate, and Lieutenant Larry (Garett Stevens) is honorable. Becoming human, saith the magical tome, requires a commitment to love, faith, and general goodness—characteristics not possessed by the literally and figuratively cracked Marguerite.
If creators Chris DeCarlo (who also directs) and Evelyn Rudie intend to entertain children with this production, they will likely succeed. The cast, which includes the two creators, has clearly been directed to mug, indicate, and commit to an exceedingly broad style of comic acting fit only for very young audiences. The whole thing comes across as a sappy, poorly conceived love letter to the young at heart, a trite recipe for happiness that rings exceedingly hollow.
Presented by and at the Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. Aug. 6-Sept. 25. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 6:30 p.m. (310) 394-9779, ext. 1, or www.santamonicaplayhouse.com.