The Little Prince

Tara Travis is an expert at multi-tasking.

As an actor and puppeteer with Monster Theatre (where she also serves as a writer and artistic producer), Travis has gotten used to playing multiple roles on stage — as Whistlerites will see when the Vancouver theatre company brings its production of The Little Prince to Millennium Place on Feb. 21.

“I worked largely as a puppeteer for almost five years before my acting career took off,” Travis said. “It’s exciting for me to marry those two skills in the same work… I almost get bored when I just have one character in a play — it’s always a pleasure to be hired and to work, but it certainly gives me a lot of opportunity to relax when I only have
one role.”

To that end, Travis and castmate Nancy Kenny — who plays the Little Prince — are kept plenty busy with their new production. The play is adapted from the book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupery in which the Little Prince, who lives on his own planet about the size of a house, is moved to leave his home in search of friends after a rose he finds annoying blows into his little territory.

Travis plays multiple characters — both as an actor, puppet and with costumes that are “almost body puppets, in a way,” she said.

“It’s a story that both Ryan Gladstone (artistic director of Monster Theatre) and I bonded over when we met,” Travis said. “We both read it as children then read it again as adults and the depth and poignancy of it is incredible. It’s such a delightful story for kids and then it is so profoundly resonant when you read it as an adult.”

Many of the puppets featured in the play are also brand new. Monster Theatre launched a last-minute crowd-funding campaign in December, just weeks before the show was set to hit the road on a tour of Alberta
and B.C.

The timing near the holidays was a challenge, but in the end, they got a bit of extra funding and raised the profile of the production. “We didn’t reach our goal,” Travis said. “The bit we raised, it sure helped us out. At the same time, it worked as an opportunity to spread the word about the (show).”

So far, the production has been a hit at various stops in the province. “It’s been going fantastically well,” Travis said. “It’s always scary birthing a brand new theatre baby, but the reception has been amazing. We did a number of preview shows in Vancouver before we started our tour and that gave us a chance to learn from the audience.”

Kids in the audience have also enjoyed the Q&A session after the shows. “I think there are a lot of curiosities after an experience like that,” Travis said. “We also have original projections that play throughout the show — drawn and painted and captured projections. Kids want to know about that too and where the sounds come from and how the puppets work. We also get questions like, ‘Why did you choose acting as a career?’”

While the Whistler Arts Council — which is presenting the show through its Performance Series — encourages everyone to come check out the whimsical show, the pajama party theme will appeal to the inner child.

Attendees are encouraged to wear pajamas to the show and stick around for cookies and juice afterwards.

“Parents and teachers often laugh just as much — if not more than — the kids,” Travis said. “We are all about building as many levels of humour and engagement into our work as possible.”

The show starts at 6 p.m. and tickets are $12 for kids 12 and under, $18 for students, seniors and WAC members and $20 for general admission.

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