A scene from The Little Prince
(© Alexsey Photography)
A scene from The Little Prince
(© Alexsey Photography)
One of the greatest books ever written about the gift of imagination, Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince has long been a powerful magnet to artists who feel compelled to adapt it to another medium; but most efforts usually fail because the book is so entirely defined by its simplicity. Fortunately, the clever and soulful adaptation of The Little Prince, now at the New Victory Theatre, by Rick Cummins amd John Scoullar is the closest to "getting" the book that we have ever seen.

The Little Prince tells the fanciful story of a lone aviator who crashes his plane in the desert. When he comes to, he meets a strange young man who asks him to draw a sheep. Over the next several days the Aviator befriends the boy who says he's from another planet where he fell in love with a Rose.

The Little Prince goes on to tell the Aviator everything he's learned above life, love, and friendship through his travels and in his encounters with other creatures he's met, especially The Fox and The Snake. Devotees of the book will note that Cummins and Scoullar have cut the tale down to a tight 60 minutes, and while some important sections have been deleted, the work's essential message remains intact.

The key to the success of this delightful production is the decision to use puppets, a la Avenue Q, to play all of the characters except for the Aviator. This device not only serves to keep the show in the realm of the book's famous illustrations, it encourages a more child-like response from the audience's imagination, giving us a greater license to view these inanimate objects as people with a heart and soul.

To that end, the puppeteer/actors deserve particular acclaim for their performances, especially Eileen Cella who "plays" The Little Prince, and Michael Schupbach who not only "plays" the adorable and wise Fox, but who designed all of the puppets in the production. Credit also belongs to the simple and exquisite set design by Tom Gleeson, and the beautifully simple projection design by Daniel Brodie.

Most importantly, a keen sense of wonder is kept joyfully alive by the show's director, Susan D. Atkinson. Unlike a great deal of children's theater, in which parents have precious little interest, The Little Prince is a show that parents will insist upon taking their child to see. And that child will be all the better for it.