Brandon Meeks, Cami Glauser, Zac Hoogendyk, & BeeBee Patillo in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Photo: Natosha Cundiff.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Based on the book by Kate DiCamillo
Written by Dwayne Harford
Directed by Andrew Harris
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
As I left the Bomhard Theater on Saturday afternoon after Stage One’s current offering, I weaved my way through parents and children. As most of my fellow young audience members waited to meet the StageOne cast in the post-show meet and greet, a young girl stood out to me. Having followed her out of the theater, she held on to her parents as she wept. Perhaps not even ten years old, this young patron was deeply moved by The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. And I believe that is the most appropriate reaction to art of this caliber intended for children and families.
A small cast of four (Brandon Meeks, Cami Glauser, Zac Hoogendyk, and BeeBee Patillo) tell the tale of a china rabbit who meets hobos, farmers, and children of all sorts. This self-indulgent and snooty rabbit learns important lessons on his journey from place to place. Most importantly, he learns how to love others through heartbreak and loss. Brandon Meeks makes a great Edward with his high-pitched voice and the physicality of Edward’s tosses and tumbles. Providing beautiful acoustic guitar melodies and harmonica accompaniment, Meeks’ musical talent sets a gentle tone for the story as well. While his Edward is comical in his whiney and shrill demands to be called by his given name and stare at the stars, Meeks brings deep emotional resonance within the china rabbit’s lessons that mirror one who has matured through trauma or grief.
As narrator, Cami Glauser holds the audience’s attention yet keeps a tone as though she is speaking with each patron individually. She handles Edward’s journey with care as he is thrown into the air, sinks to the bottom of the ocean, or lands at the bottom of a garbage heap. With effective staging and lighting, Glauser’s gentle narrations make Edward’s transitions in his journey more emotional. It may be a simple rabbit in the hands of an actor moving from one side of the stage to another, but her delivery and Nick Dent’s creative lighting patterns make for lovely theater moments.
Edward Tulane’s journey begins with a young girl and soon meets his other friends through chance. BeeBee Patillo and Zac Hoogendyk provide fully formed characters along with Cami Glauser’s help as well. Patillo is a delight as Edward’s original owner, Abilene. Paired with Hoogendyk in several of these scenes, they share strong moments of overcoming obstacles, illness, and abuse as a brother and sister duo, Bryce and Sarah. I think several young patrons were entertained by Patillo’s role as a dog and she deserves kudos for committing to the role. Hoogendyk brings additional range as the hobo who goes where the wind takes him as well as an elderly fisherman who suffers from grief. Truly, these actors bring dedication to their parts as Edward’s story progresses.
It is easy to disregard a play intended for a young audience. Honestly, I expected some overly emotional schlock. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. And if my young teary-eyed co-audience member is any indication of the effect this material may have, I suggest you bring some tissues with you to the show.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
March 25, April 1, & April 15
StageOne Family Theatre
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!