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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS at Theatre of Youth brings silliness to an appreciative and very young crowd

THE BASICS: DRAGONS LOVE TACOS, play by Ernie Nolan based on the book by Adam Rubin, presented by Theatre of Youth, directed by Kyle LoConti runs through June 1, Saturdays and Sundays, May 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 2 p.m., plus Saturday June 1 at both 2 and 4 p.m. at the Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen Street (884.4400). www.theatreofyouth.org Recommended for ages 4+ There is no intermission because the runtime is under an hour. Budget a little extra time for the post-show talk-back and “stage magic” demonstrations followed by on-stage photo-ops with the dragons.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  When mom goes food shopping, young Robbie and his dog let four dragons in to play! The dragons bring tacos, lots and lots of tacos: great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos EXCEPT spicy tacos! When spicy salsa is added to the mix, fiery trouble ensues, with lots of dragon butt shaking to the delight of the young crowd. Fortunately, the dragons are as adept at home repair as they are at making tacos and all ends well.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: With few exceptions, the players are all old hands at Theatre of Youth. The four dragons are played by Melinda Capeles  as the “Yellow Dragon” who is silly, Joe Isgar (his TOY debut) as the “Blue Dragon” who is shy, Daniel Torres as the “Red Dragon” who is friendly, and Alexandria Watts as the “Green Dragon,” the baby of the four. Dan Urtz plays several television personalities, one of which, the “Dragonologist” steps off the screen to become an active participant as a sort of National Geographic guide with a wide variety of Monty-Pythonesque “Silly Walks.”

Preston Williams plays Leroy, the family dog; Victoria Pérez is the pre-recorded voice of the mom; her (real life son) Carlos Maggiolo Pérez, and Alejandro Pérez alternate playing the on-stage son (for both young actors this is their TOY debut).

The stage design by Kenneth Shaw is impressive, not so much as the play starts, but as the flames rise and the walls are scorched by dragon, uh, not quite “breath” exactly (the result of their eating spicy salsa) the effect is quite magical as are the dragon costumes (Barbara Priore, Head of Wardrobe).

It’s perfect for the pre-school and K-1 crowd, and TOY is expert at knowing their viewers, so if you have a member of the target audience in your family, but all means go. But don’t expect any subtle “adult” humor. Your trip will be one of those parental “labors of love.”

Images courtesy Theatre of Youth

UP NEXT: A wide variety of programs for kids packaged as one dozen “Summer Workshops” for children who will be entering grades K-2, 1-3, 3-6 with one for high schoolers about to enter grades 9-12. These will be held this summer during July and August and you can read more and watch a short video here.

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare r)ating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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