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Theater Review: Olympia Family Theater makes a charming "Pooh"

Children and adults will laugh through the adorbale production

"House at Pooh Corner": Eeyore (Brian Hatcher) and Tigger (Christian Doyle) / photo credit: Dinea De Photo

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There's not much better than sharing something you love from your childhood with the next generation of kids. There's not much worse than beloved literature being remade into something unrecognizable in the name of "modernization." The House at Pooh Corner currently at Olympia Family Theater allows you to revel in your nostalgia - provided your childhood bears were more "fluff and stuff" than gruesome killing machines. There are a couple elements that are new, a pseudo "who's on first" type of schtick with the characters Early and Late and a Christopher Robin who is more petulant than the sweet boy from Milne's and Disney's classic stories.

Additions aside, OFT's production is charming, funny and quite adorable. It was difficult to tell who enjoyed the show more with laughter coming from the adults as well as the children in attendance. The main plot follows Pooh and the gang as they attempt to help their friend Eeyore who has no home to protect him from the cold wind at 3 a.m. Two separate sub plots interrupt their work. The first is Christopher Robin will be going off to school and must say goodbye to his friends. Second, everyone is faced with a very bouncy animal in the Hundred Acre Wood. 

While all the actors were committed to their roles - and performed well - the most delightful were Brian Hatcher as Eeyore, Christian Doyle as Tigger, Scott Douglas as Owl, Xander Layden as Rabbit and Jacqui Martin as Roo. Of these, Christian Doyle was so perfectly energetic and exuberant he completely embodied Tigger. It takes incredible skill to take a character that has a large personality, be completely true to the character yet be reserved enough to fit into an ensemble of varying temperaments. Doyle balances this seemingly effortlessly and draws the biggest laughs from both the adults and children in the audience with his physical comedy and perfect comedic timing. Xander Layden and Scott Douglas were appropriately dignified, Brian Hatcher's Eeyore is so sad everyone wanted to give him a hug and Jacqui Martin never stops moving and might be as energetic as Tigger.

The technical aspects of The House at Pooh Corner were fantastic and rounded out the feel of the Hundred Acre Wood. Birds chirping greeted patrons before and after the show as well as during intermission. The set was beautifully painted and the costumes were clever. Owl, Christopher Robin, and Rabbit's costumes all had a similar feel and were the best out of all the characters.

OFT describes The House at Pooh Corner as "best enjoyed by those 3 and up" and my 3 year old will readily agree. He was especially enamored with meeting the characters and getting a picture with Tigger after the show. If opening weekend was any indication of popularity, you'll want to purchase your tickets before getting to the box office and arrive modestly early to get a good seat.

THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER, 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, through Feb. 23, Washington Center, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia, $10-$16, 360.753.8586

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