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Kids will love SLAC's darling 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie'

"IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE," through Dec. 26, Salt Lake Acting Company (801-363-7522); running time: one hour, no intermission.

Sometimes a marriage comes along that has people raising eyebrows: Will they stay together? Will it work?

Such was the case when Salt Lake Acting Company, known for its edgy fare, announced it would produce theater for children.

Well I'm happy to say that so far, this marriage seems to be on the right track.

After last year's successful "Go, Dog. Go!" SLAC is bringing another book to life with "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."

The book, written by Laura Joffe Numeroff, is a darling story about a boy who unwittingly offers a cookie to a very talkative mouse. The mouse then asks for milk, then a straw and so on, until the house is turned upside down.

Needless to say, the best way to judge children's theater is by sitting among children and seeing how they react. I went to a matinee performance filled with a wonderfully participative group of kids.

They howled when the boy talked about his Aunt's kisses, giggled and nodded when mouse was afraid to be seen in his underwear (getting ready to nap) and delighted any time the two made a mess.

Not only is the story familiar to many kids, SLAC's production is as every bit as cute as the book that turned into a popular "if you give" series (even the playbills are geared toward kids — with games and a cookie recipe).

Penelope Marantz Caywood has directed the two-man show with plenty of movement and physical comedy, keeping the kids engaged.

Michael Gardner and Dustin Bolt (Boy and Mouse, respectively) do a very good job of the bringing the characters to life. Gardner handles the challenge of being childlike enough to resonate, but he does not come across like an adult trying to act like a kid. Bolt's mouse is quirky and funny, and kids loved every second.

It's the interactions between the two, on Keven Myhre's darling over-size set, that make the piece come to life. The mirror dance, set to music by David Evanoff (with everything from "Rocky" to Beyonce, Mouse climbing on top of the fridge and a bit where Mouse dispenses an entire roll of tape were favorites. Except for my own toddler who was so appalled at Mouse's behavior she exclaimed, "Oh! Now we have to leave the show!"

There is one scene where the two act out a comic strip that went on a bit long and seemed to lose the otherwise rapt attention.

So thank you SLAC for another wonderful kid's production allowing us to share our love of theater and the joy a well-told story can bring; a holiday treat, indeed.

e-mail: ehansen@desnews.com