Virginia Rep’s The Golden Goose is a fast-paced, charming play and so much fun for kids and their grown-ups.
Based on the traditional story, the play tells the story of the happy queendom turned sad by a nefarious temper-tantrum-throwing Jester, played by the talented and funny PJ Freebourn. Under his spell, the Queen, played by the versatile and regal Donna Marie
Miller, the sweet princess, played by Maddie Gunter in her debut Virginia Rep show, and all the subjects are gloomy and greedy beyond belief. As part of the Jester’s master plan they hold a contest to cheer up the princess and make the Jester rich.
Meanwhile the kooky old Magician, whom Ed Hughes brings to life, is in search of a kindhearted person who can break the spell. His search leads him to the woods and the family of Cleat, Spike, Simpleton and their mother. Sent to chop wood by their mother, Cleat and Spike are foot-stomping, whiny kids who refused to share their lunch with the Magician. For their behavior, they both receive wallops from a tree that had all the kids in the audience giggling.
Finally, Simpleton, played by the endearing Austin Taylor Smith, gets his turn to chop wood. Like his name suggests, Simpleton doesn’t have the confidence, from his family or in himself, that he can do anything right. But he is a kind soul who immediately shares his food with the Magician. Rewarded for his kindness, Simpleton is led to the dazzling and perky Golden Goose named Goldie, played by Rachel Marrs. Together, they use kindness and some quick thinking to make it through the woods past some hilarious monsters, played by William A. Anderson and Brandon J. Johns, and to the castle to bring joy to the princess and the land.
In the grand finale nearly the entire cast is attached to Goldie in a human train that runs all through the theater and at last brings laughter back to the Princess. Even the Jester has a change of heart and promises to be good.
The show is a romping good time, and the actors who all play many characters use every corner and aisle of the intimate theater to tell the story. The script is peppered with clever jokes that appeal to the adults in the audience, many of who were grandparents on the day we attended. My children, Norah who is seven and Henry who is nearly four, both loved the show proclaiming Goldie their favorite character. And right when the show ended a sweet 4-year-old boy in the row behind us said, “I don’t want it to end.” A resounding endorsement indeed.
The show struck a chord with my husband and me. In a time of so much tragedy in the nation and the world when the news and social media are filled with heartbreak, The Golden Goose brings a message of hope: Kindness and love conquers evil.
The Golden Goose runs through August 7 at Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn. Visit Virginia Rep for showtimes and tickets.
Use code RFMGoose at checkout and save $2 on tickets until July 17.