Vasa Lisa at Open Book

Paula Keller

In Kira Obolensky's delightful retelling of this Russian folktale, the title character goes on an adventure into the deep, dark forest to confront the witch Baba Yaga, who she believes can bring Vasa's mother back to life. In the hands of Ten Thousand Things, the piece grows richer by the moment, with a quintet of talented actors doing top work. They are led by Tracey Maloney as the title character and Sally Wingert as both Vasa's mother and the evil witch. Wingert also plays the voice of Vasa's intuition, which is represented by a wooden doll. This is a journey of discovery — in this case, that the character at the center just needs to listen to herself to survive. These two cast members are joined by Luverne Seifert, Jim Lichtscheidl, and Elise Langer, who take on nearly 20 roles throughout the fast-paced show, from the dour visage of Misery to a particularly evil, and poorly dressed, stepmother and sister. As always, the production is spare, leaving much of the detail up to the talents of the actors and well-used bits of set (designed by Irve Dell). It's augmented by a trio of musicians, composer Peter Vitale along with Annie Enneking and Heather Barringer, who provide a more rocking score than your usual 10K show (though the singing occasionally sounded out of time with the music). Director Michelle Hensley works her usual magic here, crafting a rich and engaging show that is funny, thought-provoking, and moving.

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