FAMILY SHOW: THE WONG KIDS IN THE SECRET OF THE SPACE CHUPACABRA GO! Review by Robin Gorman Newman & Rating by 11 Year Old Seth Newman
Written by Lloyd Suh, whose previous productions with Ma-Yi include AMERICAN HWANGAP and JESUS IN INDIA Off-Broadway, THE WONG KIDS IN THE SECRET OF THE SPACE CHUPACABRA GO! features action-driven storytelling, fun puppetry, and striking visual effects – as it transports its audience into the far reaches of the galaxy. Violet and Bruce Wong just don’t fit in with the other Earth kids. When an evil beast called the Space Chupacabra appears, intent on universal destruction, The Wong Kids travel to outer space in order to stop it… if they can only stop bickering.
The Wong Kids marks Ma-Yi’s first production of a new work fully suitable for family audiences of all ages. This is an inventive show that had my 10 year old son at times in stitches, and it’s engaging for adults as well. Chupacabra has now become a popular, comical word in our household…who knew?!
The talented, appealing, versatile cast of THE WONG KIDS includes Alton Alburo, Curran Connor, Sasha Diamond, Ethan Hova, Kate Marley, Matthew Gunn Park. During the course of the 90 minute (no intermission) play, the Wong Kids come face to face with some wild ‘n crazy creatures and some introspective beings including Great Prognosticator (Park), Bandersnatch (Connor), dragon Qweeguin (Connor), Canute (Ethan Hova), and Nobody….Violet’s insecure self (Kate Marley).
The show might benefit from a bit of trimming, but there is much to like in this production…though it’s not just light-hearted entertainment. There are some powerful take away messages….though for a 10 year old, they went a bit above his head….I pointed them out afterwards. Subjects include bullying, cultivating happiness, being different (great line — “You might know what it’s like to be other.”), sibling love and more.
While the entire cast delivers robust performances, Connor in an array of roles is a real standout…..particularly when as Qweeguin, he comes into the audience and interacts with theatre-goers, holding a dragon puppet (that has impressive pipes) who hysterically crooned “I’m So in Love with You” to an unsuspecting woman.
The production is directed by Ma-Yi’s artistic director Ralph B. Peña (director of the company’s production of MICROCRISIS, along with CENTAUR BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO) with Jack Tamburri.
The design team includes Meredith Ries (set), Becky Bodurtha (costumes), Paul Whitaker (lighting), Shane Rettig (original music & sound), David Parkinson Valentine (puppets). Jennifer Delac choreographs.
This is one of the best and most original Off Broadway family productions I’ve seen in some time, and particularly if you have a tween or teen child, it will resonate and entertain on many memorable levels.
For tickets, visit www.ma-yitheatre.org or call the La MaMa Box Office at 212.475.7710
(out of a 5 LEGO Brick rating)