The new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills will have something for everyone for its inaugural season. On the schedule are wonderful shows with extraordinary performers featuring music, dance, drama, and comedy for the theater-loving public.
The Wallis, as the center is affectionately known, is also introducing children’s shows with the grand goal of nurturing kids’ imaginations. The first family show does exactly that. The very imaginative Jason and the Argonauts is playing Thursday through Sunday until Feb. 2. The show runs over an hour and is a delightful adventure for youngsters.
It is surprising how a complicated story taken from classical Greek mythology is woven into a kid-friendly tapestry featuring heroes, villains, monsters, and a paper-boat voyage to capture the Golden Fleece and claim a kingdom. There are just two performers, Tim Settle and Neil Thomas, who are master storytellers and take on dozens of roles — from kings and sailors, to Hercules and a dragon. They energetically play all of the characters for laughs and giggles from the grade school crowd and their parents, who seemed to be equally mesmerized by the exciting plot.
There are so many unexpected elements to the show, props such as using action figure dolls to propel the story, and a huge wooden cart that turns into everything from a mountain to a castle to a ship with just some clever reconfiguration. Director Douglas Irvine and writer Robert Forrest deserves credit for the fast-paced show from Visible Fictions, a theatrical company from Scotland.
There’s a fun activity for kids who arrive early, making paper boats and hanging them on a giant map of Jason and the Argonauts’ journey. Seating is general admission. The Wallis is located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills (between Camden and Beverly). For tickets call (310) 746-4000 or go to thewallis.org.