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LA Theater Review

Sammy Skunk's Hollywood Holiday

I am not one to show up at children's theatre, as a rule. I find the character development weak and the plot points forced. However, I was fortunate enough to be able to cajole a 4-year-old of my acquaintance to leave her game of Pretty Pretty Princess for an hour and attend with me, so off we went to one of the few children's shows currently being staged in a night club (food and beverage service available and, for the nondriving adult, suggested).

The production begins as writer-director Guilford Adams warms the house. He is quickly interrupted by plush interlopers visible to the audience, though not to Adams. It struck me as pandering, though it provoked squeals of glee from my young charge, who felt called upon to announce each and every arrival with, "Look! Look!" Eventually, and none too soon to my taste, Adams catches on to the ruse.

The tale of Sammy Skunk (Lisa Lasky, adeptly handling the nuances of a trouser role) and his guardian and grandfather, Treat Skunk (Dustin Fashing, the Jack Black of anthropomorphized vermin), plays out, with a driving plot point being a rent hike on Treat's hovel levied by the cruel yet ravishing Camille Coyote (Sally Strecker, nicely embodying the dichotomy of moral corruption inherent to wealth as she uses the superannuated Treat as a step stool for her Hummer). Sammy and friends Bud Bullfrog and Shredder Squirrel (Cody Chappel and Tim Lalonde, respectively, deftly personifying slacker 'tude) decide to enter a battle of the bands to raise funds, as does Treat, a dormant rocker.

Somewhat ambiguous lessons are learned from the exercise, leavened by those of more-immediate value to the audience, such as, "Always wash your hands before eating." Guilford's script appeals on many levels, though the announcement by Parcy Possum (a spunky Lorin Shapiro) during the concert sequence—"Hey, it looks like Kidstock! This just in, do not eat the red M&M's; I repeat, do not eat the red M&M's"—may be a joke that won't land for decades, if ever. Post-show conversation yielded that the singing, dancing, and puppetry were all very satisfying. I forgot to get the littlest critic to weigh in on character development and structure, however. Next time.

Presented by Los Angeles Clown at Safari Sam's, 5201 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Sat. 1 p.m. Nov. 25-Dec. 16. (213) 925-3732.

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