by Judith Jarosz · August 26, 2015
These two short stories, presented by Open Hydrant Theater Company of the Bronx, are both by Jamie Hood and are performed by sixteen rambunctious teenage actors, ages fourteen through seventeen. The first is the tale of eight-year-old Helen Ivy Bunter, a world-renowned ghost hunter with a fondness for sweets. When called in to help the proprietor of the Holliot Hildorf Hotel to get rid of a pesky ghost who is scaring away customers, she suits up in a colorful outfit of knee-high rubber boots, helmet, zip-up sweatshirt and fluffy tutu. Once at the hotel, Helen searches high and low through the building, trying to discover whether the alarm is caused by hoax, natural causes or, indeed, the paranormal. She finally uncovers “Pierre,” a friendly young spirit who just wants to be helpful and assist the guests. Helen helps him make friends with the living and find a purpose in life…uh….death! There is also a nutty game show contest thrown in where the audience try to find the door behind which a the ghost Pierre is hiding. It is unnecessary, but the kids in the audience seem to like it.
The second tale features a young girl named Shadow who learns to love to ride her unicycle. First she ignores it, then get intrigued, then springs into action with tumultuous results. Guess the moral is that you don’t necessarily know what you think you know, but you do need to keep trying new things in life. Got it?
Both tales are cute and zip by thanks to both the direction of Sarah Rosenberg and Luis Cardenas and the boundless energy and talent of the young artists who all take turns as narrator and play multiple roles. Standouts are 14-year-old Marelyn Cruz as the ghost hunter Helen, 15-year-old Emmanuel Del La Rosa as the ghost Pierre, and 17-year-old Stephen Durosaiye as the hotel proprietor Allastair in the first piece; then 16-year-old Dieynaba Dieng as the unicycle riding girl Shadow in the second.
Set, props and graphics by Gary Smoot, light design by Lisa Hufnagel and choreography by Radina Johnson all contribute to this hour of crazy fun. Hats off to the Open Hydrant Theater Company for creating opportunities for youth in the arts. If all children had this outlet, the world might be a happier place.