Regional Theater Review: HONUS AND ME: A BASEBALL CARD ADVENTURE (Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga)

by Kim Kautzer on October 8, 2011

in Theater-Regional

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LITTLE THEATER SCORES A BIG HIT

There’s nothing quite like taking a child to his very first theater outing. And when that child is a baseball fan, and the play is the family-friendly Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure, well—it’s pretty much a home run.

The curtainless stage in the intimate Lewis Family Playhouse establishes the nostalgic, hometown feel of a Little League baseball field. As the play opens, we take an immediate liking to the fresh-faced, wide-eyed underdog Joey Stoshack, played by Kevin Stidham.

Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure - Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga – Regional Theater Review by Kim KautzerLife is tough for Joey. The child of divorce, he longs for a way to reunite his ever-bickering, cash-strapped parents (Ann Marie Lee and Matt Foyer) and believes money will solve all their problems. As with so many adolescent boys, the heart of a baseball beats in Joey’s chest. Though he loves the game, he always manages to step up to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Sadly, striking out is so certain that his coach (Thomas Fiscella) calls in the pizza order before Joey picks up the bat.

When Joey discovers a rare and valuable Honus Wagner baseball card in his elderly neighbor’s attic, he’s confident it will bring in piles of money and become the answer to his family’s woes—unless Birdie (Matthew Henerson), the menacing baseball card dealer, has his way. Beyond its extraordinary monetary value, however, this is no ordinary baseball card. Through its magic, Joey is somehow able to conjure up the real Honus Wagner, and the two develop a friendship. The affable Honus (well played by Cody Lyman) offers tidbits of encouragement and fatherly advice as he works with Joey to improve his swing and build his confidence. When the two are transported from present day to the 1909 World Series, Honus continues to demonstrate to Joey in both word and deed the importance of doing the right thing.

Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure - Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga – Regional Theater Review by Kim KautzerStidham believably portrays both the present-day adolescent Joey and the man he becomes when he travels back in time with Honus. I found myself quickly drawn into Joey’s angst and social awkwardness through his dialogue with other characters and his own frequent break-out narration, during which he speaks directly to the audience. Though some may find this sort of thing distracting, I enjoyed the storytelling aspect that tied together the elements of the play.

Lee plays the overworked single mom striving to raise a fine, honest boy. She and Foyer do a convincing job as squabbling exes-cum-supportive parents. Henerson, the bat-wielding Birdie who stalks and torments Joey to steal the Honus Wagner card, brings a bit of comic relief as the thug you love to hate. And Miss Young (Jayne Taini), the elderly neighbor, steals the show in several scenes with her witty banter and a few surprises of her own.

Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure - Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga – Regional Theater Review by Kim KautzerIt’s a perfect combination: a kid who doesn’t believe in himself, a worthy hero, and a good, old-fashioned baseball story. In Honus and Me, these elements come together magically yet believably to make an entire audience—and an 8-year-old boy in particular—cheer for the “little guy” and smile and nod to one another in that feel-good sort of way.

Isn’t that what family theater is all about?

KimKautzer @ stageandcinema.com

photos by Ed Krieger

Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure
scheduled to end on October 16
for tickets, visit http://www.lewisfamilyplayhouse.com/

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

elaine anderson October 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

this is family entertainment we could use more of

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