The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



NEWS (Etcetera)



Los Angeles






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Review
The Prince and the Pauper
David Lohrey
Look what Tom has brought us. A Book. I wonder what flavor it is?
---John Conti
Dennis Hall   & Gerard Cononico
Dennis Hall & Gerard Cononico
Usually, wherever they may be heading, critics begin with the play. Before I get started on this delightful entertainment, a word must be said about the venue itself, which in a weird way embodies the very conflicts Twain's story about the poor boy and the Prince seeks to relate. Currently run by a church group, the Lamb's Theatre, an historic landmark, literally houses the poor in a space adjacent to the lobby in which theatergoers gather to sip coffee and apple juice. For a few tense moments, it is worth mentioning, every member of the audience plays the role of Prince or Princess and must contemplate the diminished circumstances of their brethren beyond the curtains. The space, in other words, nicely underscores the play's themes.

The Prince and the Pauper is a new musical version of the Twain classic, with a largely successful book by Bernie Garzia and Ray Roderick. What one may find missing in the book is more than made up for in the music and lyrics by Neil Berg and Bernie Garzia. The songs are amusing and fun, if not witty. Especially moving are the wonderful bits between Tom (Gerard Canonico) and the Prince (Dennis Michael Hall). The boys play marvelously together and quickly capture the audience's attention. Both have wonderful voices. They are energetic and rather dashing.

The overall pacing of the work moves swiftly and smoothly. Director Ray Roderick has done his best to keep things moving. He is also to be praised for the fine performances he gets from the young leads. The entire production is polished. For this, the creative team is to be commended. The lighting design left me in the dark, however, as I couldn't understand why the lights went out on players before they were finished their numbers. And there were certain transitions that left one somewhat bewildered, but this may be a problem of the middle-aged viewer. The kids in the audience found the whole thing vastly entertaining and missed nothing.

The adult players are almost as good as the kids. Michael McCormick, who plays the father of both boys as John Canty and as King Henry, has a Victorian command of the stage. His King captures the satiric spirit of Twain's story, being at once regal and absurd. Rob Evan as Miles is dynamic. He has a powerful stage presence and sings grandly. Altogether the male leads are excellent and hold the show together.

The writers, perhaps going back to Twain himself, seem to have slighted the fairer sex, as one can't help but notice how male dominant the piece is. Nonetheless, Rita Harvey (Lady Edith) and Allison Fischer (Lady Jane) perform admirably, making the most of their time on stage and sing their hearts out.

This piece is decidedly children's fare. The conflicts are morally simple and the drama never emotionally deeper than sentiment will allow. But if the adults are going to bring their kids along, why not have a show to take them to? This is a show the entire family can enjoy.

Written by Mark Twain.
Music by Neil Berg.
Book by Bernie Garzia and Ray Roderick.
Lyrics by Neil Berg and Bernie Garzia.
Director: Ray Roderick.

Cast: Kathy Brier, Gerard Canonico, Rob Evan, Allison Fischer, Aloysius Gigl, Dennis Michael Hall, Rita Harvey, Robert Anthony Jones, Michael McCormick, Wayne Schroder, Sally Wilfert, Stephen Zinnato.
Set Design: Dana Kenn.
Lighting Design: Eric T. Haugen.
Running Time: 2 Hours and 10 Minutes, with one 15 minute intermission.
Lambs Theatre, 130 West 44th Street, NY (212) 239-6200.
Opens 6/16/2002 for an open run.
Mon at 8; Tues at 7; Wed thru Sat at 8; Wed & Sat at 2:30; Sun at 3pm.
Reviewed by David Lohrey based on performance of 6/22/02.
Repopened for summer engagement-- through 8/31/03
metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


©Copyright 2002, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from