Arts & Culture

‘The Little Prince’ at Cal Poly is a magical journey

Miranda Ashland, right, plays the title character in “The Little Prince,” directed by Al Schnupp and playing at the Spanos Theatre.
Miranda Ashland, right, plays the title character in “The Little Prince,” directed by Al Schnupp and playing at the Spanos Theatre.

The Cal Poly theatre and dance department creates a magical journey with the fantasy play “The Little Prince.” The play is based on the iconic French novella written in 1943 by aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupery, which has been translated into more than 250 languages. The stage version is by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar.

This ambitious Cal Poly production is expertly directed by Al Schnupp with a cast of 12 actors and five hand-crafted puppets. A highlight of the show is the incredibly stunning and inventive set by Schnupp, who is also the puppet designer.

A well-traveled Aviator (Jacob Corsaro), who has become disillusioned with the world, blames the adults in his childhood for dismissing his unique imagination. After crashing his vintage plane in the Sahara desert, he meets the mysterious and innocent Little Prince (Miranda Ashland), who values his creativity and introduces him to stories about fantastic planets and unique creatures.

The Little Prince describes his home planet and his special relationship with a Rose flower (Jennifer McClinton). He tells the Aviator about his adventures to other galaxies where he meets the King, Conceited Man, Businessman, Lamplighter and Geographer. (Puppeteers — Sergio Gavidia, Cassidy Cagney, Emily Brehm and Aron Daw — skillfully voice and articulate these characters).

While on planet Earth, the Little Prince encounters the Desert Flower (Hannah Littier), Wall of Roses (Amara Villasenor, Sabrina Orro, and Littier), Snake (Charlene Jenny Cox) and Fox (Miko Vespremi). From each meeting, he learns valuable lessons to share with the Aviator such as “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.”

As the Aviator struggles to survive, his love and admiration for the Little Prince grows with the realization that each must find their way home.

Ashland portrays the Little Prince with a poignant playfulness and genuine curiosity without seeming too childish. The talented acting ensemble embrace their roles with much enthusiasm.

The extraordinary set of “The Little Prince” is the heart of this imaginary world. A vast three-dimensional backdrop is interconnected with gears, wheels and mechanical devices. In the center of the stage is a sultry moon that projects illustrations drawn by the Aviator and synchronized by artist Beatriz Pereira. The actors use exotic props to create a windy sandstorm, soaring birds, gliding sailboats, wistful tree branches and golden wheat fields. Technical director and lighting designer is Clint Bryson. Stage manager is Antonio Mata.

The colorful and clever costumes by Kimberlee Vandenburg bring to life a world of beauty and mystery. Makeup is by Caroline Rein.

“The Little Prince” is well suited for children with a running time of 75 minutes. Adults will also delight in this endearing story and spectacular stage design.

“The Little Prince” is a perfect antidote to the stress and fast-paced world we live in today. It reminds all of us to relish our inner child and embrace our pure imagination.

‘The Little Prince’

8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly campus, San Luis Obispo

$20 general admission, $12 students, faculty/staff, seniors and children

805-756-4849 or www.pacslo.org/tickets

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