The Sorcerer's Apprentice at Open Eye

Larry Lamb

You can take your multimillion-dollar CGI effects, I'll take good old-fashioned low-tech tricks. Employing some of the oldest techniques in theater—there is even a short shadow-puppet sequence—Michael Sommers and a team of talented puppeteers make magic happen during this one-hour world premiere. Brooms come to life hauling buckets, of course. But there are also clever transformations, manipulations of perspective, and a Marx Brothers-like routine featuring the nameless apprentice, the sorcerer's pointy hat, and a room full of cabinets and drawers. Using Goethe's original poem as a springboard, Sommers emerges with a story about a sorcerer on his last legs searching for his replacement. His majordomo, an odd cat/rat mixture, finds a starving beggar boy and brings him to the magical castle. While the wizard mainly sits on the sidelines, our apprentice explores the castle, cutting corners where he shouldn't. The story unfolds in a slightly different way than you might expect, and the changes and additions from Sommers add an extra layer of depth. The show employs marionettes, not just for the humanoid characters but for sticks of wood, the book of spells, and an ax with French accent. A quartet of puppeteers brings all these creations to full life, as does Eric Jensen's charming score. Created for viola, trombone, clarinet, and marimba, the score is at turns playful, odd, and dark—just like the work up on the stage.

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