Review: The Berenstain Bears Live in Family Matters, the Musical
The woodland family gets the stage treatment in a new tuner that combines three of Stan and Jan Berenstain's most popular stories.
Tue Jul 12 2011
Photograph: Aaron Epstein
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Everyone's favorite family of bears has taken up residence at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center—better known as Bear Country—this summer. In , Mama, Papa, Brother and Sister Bear make the leap from picture book to performance space in a spirited show that is short in length but generous in content. Packed into a mere 55 minutes, the perfectly paced production draws upon its rich storybook history by applying familiar life lessons (staying away from strangers and junk food, not necessarily in that order) to a day in the life of the Berenstains.
While young viewers will have no trouble following the varied story lines that take the bears from their snug kitchen to the sometimes scary woods, over to school and back home again, it is the energetic cast that keeps the action centered. The impressive vocals of Alex Goley's Brother Bear and Jill Kurzner's Sister Bear are pitch-perfect, especially during "Hello," while the hilarious antics of Ryan Scarlata's Papa Bear make for a side- (and perhaps seam-) splitting escapade during "Fluff on Your Tummy."
It's clear from the gently used scenery that this is but one of many stops on Family Matters' national tour. But much like a well-worn teddy bear whose stuffing has come a bit undone, the show's overriding theme about the power of family is one that will resonate across generations.
plays at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center through October 30.