The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Just as successful children’s shows once spawned junior versions of themselves—think Muppet Babies and Tiny Toon Adventures—so, perhaps, are musical-theater favorites ready for their own era of kid-size knockoffs. This is what comes to mind while watching Joe Iconis’s sweetly likable The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks, in which a pair of dorky boys come into possession of mysterious, ravenous, quickly growing houseplants with highly unusual appetites. If the set-up sounds familiar, that’s because it is: The show is essentially Li’l Little Shop of Horrors, with sullied hosiery subbing in for too, too solid flesh. One looks forward to future efforts in this line: May I suggest Sweeney Toddler?

Meanwhile, Iconis’s show—adapted from a book by Nancy McArthur and presented free of charge by TheatreworksUSA—has the stuff to keep kids and their guardians well entertained. The affable Jason “Sweet Tooth” Williams stars as a sloppy seventh grader, and the gangly Lance Rubin is his nerdish, neatnik younger brother; Lorinda Lisitza and Kilty Reidy play the boys’ baffled parents; and Lauren Marcus adds comic vim as a demented cheerleader intent on discovering their horticultural secret. Directed by John Simpkins, the show has a knowingly daffy humor, in the manner of Nickelodeon’s The Fairly OddParents. Iconis has yet to write an adult musical that lives up to his promise, but he can be proud of the bouncy pop tunes and clever rhymes he has devised for this occasion: It’s a rock-’em–sock-’em little score.

Lucille Lortel Theatre. Book, music and lyrics by Joe Iconis. Dir. John Simpkins. With Jason “Sweet Tooth” Williams, Lance Rubin. 1hr 5mins. No intermission.