‘946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips’ is a riveting WWII tale

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Kneehigh Theatre Company’s musical plays at The Wallis through March 5

946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips is an inventive musical drama from the acclaimed British Kneehigh Theatre Company that reveals a riveting true tale from World War II.

The story centers on the life of school kids, parents, evacuees and the American soldiers who interact in the seaside town of Slapton Sands, England, prior to the launch of D-Day in 1944. Families should see this show together, because there is much to talk about afterwards regarding love, acceptance and humanity.

It’s a story that resonates, from Kneehigh’s artistic director Emma Rice and Michael Morpurgo (War Horse), adapted from Morpurgo’s The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, about a tragic incident during training exercises for the D-Day landings. Directed by Rice, the musical showcases the excitement of letting new people into our lives, even if sadness may tag along.

At the center of the action is 12-year-old Lily and Tips her cat. Katy Owen brilliantly plays the rambunctious girl, capturing the spirit of a kid angry about her dad leaving to fight the war. Her mum (stoic Kyla Goodey) and grandpa (Mike Shepherd at his best when he’s riled) are left to run the farm.

Everyone in the cast takes on multiple roles and even farm animals with ease, so it is best to acknowledge them as an amazing ensemble. They are Seamas Carey, Emma Darlow, Chris Jared, Craig Johnson, Pat Moran, Adam Sopp and Akopre Uzoh. Plus, loaded with charisma, Ncuti Gatwa and Nandi Bhebhe give energetic performances as the African American soldiers stationed in Slapton. The puppeteers who bring the cat, other critters and action scenes to life also deserve credit for their wizardry.

Lez Brotherston artistically designs the set, with the band positioned center stage on a propeller platform. The song and dance numbers are more modern than the historic setting might warrant, but the tunes hit all the right emotional notes.

 “946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips” is presented through March 5th at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, in the Bram Goldsmith Theater, located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills (between Camden and Beverly). For tickets call (310) 746-4000 or visit TheWallis.org.

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