The Quest for the Seven Teeth: Accomplice, An Adventure Theater Co: Review by Amy Wall Lerman

amywallrueThere’s magic in the air!  At least there was yesterday in New York City’s Central Park when I took my eight year old son to see the Accomplice production of “The Quest for the Seven Teeth.” Okay, I say “I took” him “to see” it, but that’s not exactly the case.

It starts with a story, a host of fairy tale characters, and a trip through some of the most beautiful spots within Central Park.  The children become part of the play as they interact with actors playing the part of fairy tale creatures.  The audience, then, of course, is everyone else who just happens to be in the park that day. And there were some very interested expressions cast our way.

“The Quest for the Seven Teeth” is certainly a show but it’s also a scavenger hunt and an interactive experience for imaginative children.  It all begins the day before when you receive an email with an audio message from Franklin Fairy asking you to meet him on a west side entrance to Central Park with the mysterious words “look for the yellow ribbon.”  I don’t want to give too much away because that would rob you of some of the surprise, but the yellow ribbon is there and that’s when the adventure begins.

The children are first led to the bathrooms at the Delacourt Theater (Central Park’s outdoor summer Shakespeare Theater) – always a good place to start before kids venture out on 2 hour extravaganza.  From there they head to the first meeting point where they are greeted by Franklin himself – complete with feathered wings, winged Fedora, and Irish brogue.  Franklin was played by Matt Zambrano, a seasoned performer and graduate of the National Theater Conservatory.

Franklin starts the kids off by explaining the adventure and giving (as many as he can), a special and mysterious task.  One child is given a tiny harmonica which she is expected to blow three times because something might happen when she does.  My son was given a bag of gummy worms with no explanation except to hold on tight.  Another child was given a backpack which looked like something out of a Midsummer’s Night Dream – for carrying the teeth that were to be collected throughout the journey.

The mission is to find seven teeth and bring them back to Franklin so he can get them to the tooth fairy.  And throughout the park are plenty of fairy tale characters waiting to help him by means of the children.

As the children, followed by a small entourage of parents, journey through the park they meet characters like Rue played by native New Yorker and comedic actress Michele  McNally.  We met up with her at Belvedere Castle, a perfect spot to start the journey.  It’s one of Central Park’s magical settings even with the view of the skyscrapers across the park.  Rue has been stuck in a tower her whole life and this is her first time outside.  She too has a little harmonica and that’s how we find her.  Each character has a missing tooth because, it seems, they’ve pulled one out to help Franklin.  Rue plays games with the children before giving them her tooth and sending them on their way.

The other characters they meet are equally amusing and the actors equally engaging. While they have a script to follow, their ability to improv with the children adds to the magic of the journey.

There is Hans, the fishermen, played by Matt McCroskey, who sounds like Matthew McConaughey and bears a resemblance to Edward Norton.  We meet up with him at the Central Park Reservoir (renamed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir) which chock-full of visitor in rowboats on this hot sunny summer day.  Hans is a fisherman without bait (thus the gummy worms) who has an activity planned for the children so that they avoid being eaten by the bridge troll played at a distance, and very convincingly, by J.W. Crump.  Talk about a gathering crowd when we approached this creature.

We also met Goldie, played by New York actress Kerry Ipema whose improvisational expertise is put to the task with this particular group of precocious kids.  Goldie is tech-savvy young woman who has a penchant for all things lukewarm and “just right.”  Then there’s a forest urchin whose name I cannot give here since it’s an integral part of the show.  He’s a cantankerous creature who likes to tease.  He’s played by Brett Aresco, an actor and writer who has been with Accomplice for 5 years.

amywallforestFinally, we are led to one of the most scenic spots in the park and one designed specifically with the delight of children in mind – The Conservatory Water famed for the model boat sailings that have been a scenic part of the park for over 135 years.  The smallish pond is bordered by statues of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson.  What better place to meet up with the final character in our tale, The Queen of Hearts, played with all the appropriate and inane aloofness characteristic of Lewis Carroll’s creation, by Jenny Lee Mitchell (aka “Mad Jenny”).  She comes on the scene as an obvious character to the kids but a crazy New York street creature to everyone else in the park.

Throughout the two hours, I didn’t know whether to watch the show, my son’s reactions, or the people who either stopped to watch or kept on walking.  New Yorker’s have an uncanny disinterest in some of the wacky goings-on around them, mainly because they happen so often and there are so many.  It’s part of living and working in New York City.  You never know what or who you will come across everyday – several times a day – including a heavily make-upped, red-wigged, heart-splattered, briefcase-toting woman talking frantically on her cell phone.

Accomplice calls themselves an Adventure Theater Company (for ages 6- 11), and they absolutely are.  The other shows they have running in New York right now are “Accomplice New York,” “Accomplice The Village,” “The Quest for the Missing Slipper.”  Tickets range from between $60 and $80+ dollars per person depending on the show.  You can also book the group for private events including corporate team building, birthday parties, and other occasions.

Accomplice was founded by brother and sister Betsey and Tom Salamon.  They were inspired by Realty TV shows, their love of scavenger hunts, and a walking tour of New York’s Lower East Side.  Their first production was for a small group of family and friends in 2004 and they’ve been going ever since.

Amy Wall Lerman is a Motherhood Later Chapter Head (Northern NJ) and a 30 years veteran of television news.  She has written four books and is the mom of a wonderful eight year old kid.  She lives in New Jersey with her husband, son and the family mutt, Charlie.



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