“The Tails of Br’er Rabbit,” written and directed by Kenneth L. Waters Jr., opened this Thursday at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, MD. I was especially excited to attend, as I loved the tales of Br’er Rabbit as a child and the many lessons they taught, but also because the play was premiering at CSM for the first time ever. Yes, “The Tails of Br’er Rabbit” is a show created by CSM alumn Kenneth L. Waters Jr., and I was intrigued to see how the show would resonate with the young audiences it was intended for.
If you’re looking for some family-friendly fun, a good laugh, or just something to do in the midst of this impending rain, this is the perfect show to see.
The premise of the story is based in folktales, told for many years, of a troublemaking rabbit. Br’er Rabbit (played by Evan Simon) loves causing trouble for the many neighbors he has, and always finds a way to get away without any consequences. This play, however, is unique in that we follow Br’er Rabbit’s ‘tails’ as they are told by Mr. Remy’s students for a class project. Along the way, the audience is introduced to Br’er Fox (played delightfully by Olivia Burgess), Br’er Bear (played perfectly by Levi Shaw), Sis Cow (played mooovingly by Elaine Dixon), Br’er Bullfrog, and Br’er Skunk (played hilariously by the very talented young Barrett Sullivan).
The cast of this show was diverse and quite comedic. It was wonderful to see so many young actors and actresses in this children’s show. Each of the young performers who portrayed the class carried unique characters and reminded me of the fun and fumbles of going to school. Kudos to the classroom for their character development and the dynamics they brought to the stage. Mr. Remy performed comically by Christian Price, had wonderful dynamics to his physicality and vocal performance. It was fun to watch him engage with his students and their stories, each in their own way, while still managing to maintain his ‘teacher’ status.
The set featured a classroom with chairs and a blackboard, two moving pieces that served as the neighbor’s houses, and eye-catching flowers painted onto the proscenium sides. This minimal set (designed by Erik Braun) functioned as a blackboard on which the cast painted the many antics and insane pranks that Br’er Rabbit pulls off. The focal point of the stage was a projection screen that featured Mr. Remy’s blackboard, but animated! I loved how the technical crew timed sound effects ( designed by Waters himself), lighting cues (handled by Erik Braun), and the projections (designed by Gale Howe) to bring these well-loved tales to life. The characters’ costumes (designed by Shemika Demouchet Berry) were the perfect mix of period and fun! I won’t give much away, but each character’s look perfectly captures how I imagined the stories to look!
This was a really fun children’s show – staged to capture a child’s imagination. I loved how Waters sought to inspire children to connect stories, like “The Tails of Br’er Rabbit,” to their personal lives. He added little modern connections to these historical folktales, making them relevant to the younger generation. I was worried by this decision, as I often find that it takes away from the historical context. However, I will say that this choice seemed to connect well with the children in the audience. In all, I think the show is a great success.
If you’re looking for some family-friendly fun, a good laugh, or just something to do in the midst of this impending rain, this is the perfect show to see. Just head down to the College of Southern Maryland, turn right at the flossing bullfrog, grab your tickets from Erin Timmerman in the box office, head towards the briar patch, and enjoy a great show! Oh, but don’t forget a clothespin for your nose – Br’er Skunk is stinking cute!
Advisory: There are hilarious stage stunts (don’t try them at home), a middle school classroom (the cleanest one I’ve ever seen), and the occasional unkind act or antic (always accompanied by a lesson). Best suited for anyone who loves to laugh and enjoys a good ‘tail.’
Running Time: This show is approximately 1 hr with no intermission.
“The Tails of Br’er Rabbit” will be performed February 14th-16th at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, MD. For more information or to purchase tickets, please see here.