Guest writer Liat Ginsberg is a mother and former journalist for the Israeli newspaper, Maariv. She taught at the Film and Media Department at Hunter College.
Our society is consumed with look, beauty, celebrity and money. Parents are constantly struggling to teach kids that life is more than external beauty. The Velveteen Rabbit, now playing at the Linda Gross Theater in Manhattan, is a play that demonstrates to kids through a rabbit and a skin horse some very important lessons.
The musical, which is directed by Anya Saffir and adapted from the book by Margery Williams, tells the story of a shy toy rabbit given to boy as a Christmas present. Initially, the rabbit was snubbed by the other toys and ignored by the boy. He spends his days waiting patiently on the nursery floor, watching the boy play with the other toys and dreaming of being picked up and loved. The rabbit feels lonely and sad. He lies untouched, unloved and not activated by the Boy’s imagination. The toy rabbit longs for nothing more than to become real. The rabbit slowly becomes the boy’s loyal friend, coming alive as together they explore the world around and play. They even fight… but just pillow fights.
The audience and the rabbit, played by Jessika Doyel, are trying to find what is the meaning of REAL. Real, the skin horse, played by Hugh C. Smith, teaches us, an important lesson:
It isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.
This is a show with both a brain and a heart. It makes you think and feel at the same time. The audience feels the pain of the unloved lonely toy rabbit, the pain of the sick child, the chemistry and the joy between the two and the reason behind it. But the audience also understands the rationale behind separating them.
The musical is for kids age 6-9. I recommend reading the book to them a few times before they come to watch the musical, especially for the younger ones.
The acting was great, especially, the skin horse, who has a wonderful voice and communicated briefly with the audience.
The Linda Gross Theater is part of the Atlantic Theater Company and is located at 336 W 20th St.. The show is playing Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30am through November 1st. Tickets cost $15-20 and can be purchased by calling 212-691-5919 or online.
Disclosure: The writer received complimentary tickets to facilitate this review but all opinions are her own.