|Jesse Groat, Kenny Pratt, Elliot Lorenc, Janelle Rae, and|
By Tina Arth
Like many other theater companies, Hillsboro’s Bag&Baggage has turned to the cyber world to keep everybody engaged until in-person theatre is deemed safe enough to be embraced by both the company and its audience. While that moment seems to be rapidly approaching, we’re not there yet – and the current B&B offering is an unabashedly joyous effort to fill the gap. From now through June 13th, patrons (especially families with kiddos) are invited to enjoy The Ballad of Aurelie the Bold, playing on screens anywhere that has Internet access!
The project, roughly based on the Grimm Brothers’ Iron John, is the brainchild of B&B’s 2019/20 Emerging Artist cohort, and was conceived, written, designed, built, and performed by Elliot Lorenc, Jesse Groat, Trevor Harter, and Kenny Pratt, along with special guest Janelle Rae. While the target audience is young children, I found it thoroughly entertaining and loaded with both primitive charm and adult wit. Director Mandana Khoshnevisan and her cast and crew clearly had a lot of fun developing and performing the show, which combines progressive/subversive social justice themes with a shameless embrace of silliness that works for kids of all ages.
With the exception of playwright/balladeer Elliot Lorenc (as Aurelie) each cast member plays multiple roles as both cast members and puppeteers (my personal favorite is the Canada Goose, although the Stump comes in as a close second!). Janelle Rae’s versatility as they cycle from sneering villain to vaudevillian song and dance provides lots of memorable moments, and I could almost hear an (unfortunately nonexistent) chorus of kiddos giggling, booing, cheering, and warning Aurelie when danger approached.
The show, while lots of fun on screen, simply screams for the live audience for which it was undoubtedly developed. I sincerely hope that B&B will find a way to include Aurelie as part of its first full in-person season. For now, go to the Bag&Baggage website and arrange for your on-demand live stream – and be prepared to forever more think “clean the pond and save the forest” when you hear “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
The Ballad of Aurelie the Bold is available through Sunday, June 13th. Run time is 90 minutes, and is recommended for ages 5+. Price range is $0 to $20 – audience choice.