The Order Of Blattaria, A Kid's Guide To Survival
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
August 25, 2010
The Order of Blattaria plays out like a variety show for kids. It is high-energy, fast-paced edutainment. That's right: edutainment—all the science facts in the show are real so you can learn a little something. Granted, it might be something about elephant poop but it might also be something that could save your life. The subtitle is "A Kid's Survival Guide" and the idea is that by the end of the show we will all be prepared to survive in wilderness. There are plenty of fun facts but the entertainment part of the show definitely outweighs the facts.
Our guides to becoming wilderness-ready are Dr Z as the MC of the show, Camp Counselor Chris as the dimwitted guy with a big heart, and Uncle Sven as the loveable man with a guitar. The performance actually starts in the lobby where we are given new names (I was Karl) and they have air cannons that can shoot a paper cup off your head from across the room. In the theatre, Uncle Sven starts us off with a sing-along. Appropriately enough it's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." After that Dr Z leads a little workshop in bugs. You know those giant roaches from Madagascar? Well he has some of those and if you're brave enough you can have one put on your shoulder. Oh and that's when we learn that these roaches fart every 15 minutes. Then Camp Counselor Chris comes in and wows us with his amazing bubble tricks. He has more bubble making tools than I've ever seen. He makes a smoked filled bubble man! It's really cool!
The show goes like that as they take their turns on stage. Dr Z gets kids to eat real toasted crickets, Camp Counselor Chris tells a funny ghost short, and Uncle Sven leads us in another song but at the end everything changes. The lights go out and black light floods the stage. Music comes up and then brightly colored puppets appear. Some are hand puppets and some are large heads worn by the puppeteers. They dance and sing to several different fun songs until Dr Z comes back out and tells us we all graduated.
Michael Ari Wulffhart plays Dr Z. He is sharp and completely in charge. The kids may get a little bit excited but Wulffhart is clearly an experienced kid's entertainer and he knows just how to handle them. David Herbelin is Camp Counselor Chris. He is a lot of fun and the kids will love him because he's just so adorable. Karl Jaecke plays Uncle Sven. He is so easy-going with his guitar and Swedish accent. I really enjoyed the sing-a-longs. The puppeteers, Beckie Clark, Christine Diaz and Justin Tinker, really shine in their choreography. Their movements are very well-timed with the music. The puppets at the end are dazzling.
This is a great show for kids to get into because there are so many things happening. There's no plot to follow or characters to remember—there's just one entertaining segment after another. And there's real science! I had a great time and I think parents will too. You can help but get caught up the action.