Seattle Children's Theatre presents "Lyle the Crocodile," which charmingly re-creates the story of the Primm family and the crocodile they come to love.
We all know that life in New York can be a bit strange, but a full-grown crocodile living in your bathroom?
Now that is really bizarre, and that, indeed, is what the Primm family find when they move into their brownstone on East 88th Street.
After their initial shock, they realize Lyle is quite a companionable creature. He can’t speak, but he can tap dance, do magic tricks, juggle, find lost things and perform — delightedly — the duties of a maid. The Primms, especially son Joshua, grow very fond of Lyle. We, the Seattle Children’s Theatre audience, grow ever fonder of them, and all the young and old New Yorkers they encounter — except for the mean-spirited Mr. Grumps, who loves only his cat and is especially hostile to sweet Lyle, the star of “Lyle the Crocodile.”
This charming musical production, directed by Linda Hartzell, is as delightful for grown-ups as it is for school-age children. You sense it from the opening number, a New York street scene where nurse and nun, policeman and garbage man, street-hockey player and children of all ethnicities gambol and carry out business with song and dance. And it just gets better and better.
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Julie Briskman is a lovable and most prim Mrs. Primm. Allen Galli (Mr. Grumps) looks at the world with a face like a bulldog. Greg McCormick Allen displays Lyle’s every emotion without uttering a word.
The whole cast captivates, but Jayne Muirhead as Miss Nitpicker is especially beguiling. We first meet her as a somewhat officious guest in the Primm home, certainly not one who will readily accept a crocodile serving as butler. Of course, Lyle wins her over, and she launches into a song about “Likability.” No, not launches; she belts out the song a la Ethel Merman.
Mark Rabe directs the lively orchestra, and Marianne Roberts’ choreography involves everything from tap dancing and jump roping to skating.
Have you happy memories of being in New York’s Rockefeller Center near Christmas time? Here it is, re-created for you with the agile cast on roller skates instead of ice skates.
Of course there’s a crisis, and it doesn’t turn out well for Lyle. But this is a fantasy, so all is well in the end. It’s an end with happy children, snow falling and Christmas wreaths on doors. It’s an end where people overcome whatever problems they have with someone who is “different.” Like so many of Seattle Children’s Theatre productions, “Lyle” can be enjoyed on many levels.
Nancy Worssam: firstname.lastname@example.org