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One of IRT’s holiday offerings this year is James Still’s magical theatrical adaptation of the childhood favorite, The Velveteen Rabbit. The original book by Margery Williams first appeared in 1922, and became an instant classic. Mr. Still’s play, directed by Carol North, with design work by Gordon Strain (Scenic), Guy Clark (Costume), Shanelle Hayes (Lighting) and Maggie Hall (Sound), is presented in the third floor Cabaret in the IRT facility.

The performance I attended, at 11 am on a Saturday, was a complete sellout. The enthusiasm of the many youngsters was offset by the well-directed energies of the actors, who told their story in a calm, even manner, while paying great attention to creating the exact type of illusion which children crave and respond to. Indeed, we were all drawn in to the emotional and entertaining story, no matter what our age. (I saw one man asking his wife for a tissue so he could wipe his tears during one especially emotive moment.)

Older Steve (Andrew Martin), Velveteen Rabbit (Tyler Ostrander), Young Steve (Mitchell Wray) and Rocking Horse (Adam O. Crowe) in "The Velveteen Rabbit" at IRT

Older Steve (Andrew Martin), Velveteen Rabbit (Tyler Ostrander), Young Steve (Mitchell Wray) and Rocking Horse (Adam O. Crowe) in “The Velveteen Rabbit” at IRT


The simple, utilitarian set by Mr. Strain alongside the colorful, imaginative costumes by Mr. Clark added to the enchanting quality of the storytelling. But it was the finely guided talents of the actors which held our attentions and helped the children to hear the show with their eyes, their ears, their hearts and their bodies, as they were encouraged to do by the wonderful lady who acted as mistress of ceremonies, Milicent Wright.
Ben (Isaac Herzog), Older Steve (Andrew Martin), Velveteen Rabbit (Tyler Ostrander), and Young Steve (Mitchell Wray)  in "The Velveteen Rabbit" at IRT

Ben (Isaac Herzog), Older Steve (Andrew Martin), Velveteen Rabbit (Tyler Ostrander), and Young Steve (Mitchell Wray) in “The Velveteen Rabbit” at IRT


The outstanding cast was led by Andrew Martin, who takes the part of our main storyteller, Older Steve. He describes his memories of being six years old, and we see them – with Mitchell Wray as Young Steve, Isaac Herzog as his older brother Ben, Ethan Holder as his toy Boat, Zoe Turner as his toy Train and Adam O. Crowe as the older, wiser, and very instructive Rocking Horse. All the actors do excellent work, skillfully telling the story and allowing us to move seamlessly between the fantasy and real life that we are asked to take in. Tyler Ostrander is fabulous as the Velveteen Rabbit, going from a naïve, uninformed toy who longs to be ‘real’, to a fun-loving playmate that Young Steve imagines and loves and shares his adventures with.
Boat (Ethan Holder), Velveteen Rabbit (Tyler Ostrander) and Train (Zoe Turner) in "The Velveteen Rabbit" at IRT

Boat (Ethan Holder), Velveteen Rabbit (Tyler Ostrander) and Train (Zoe Turner) in “The Velveteen Rabbit” at IRT


It all made for a perfectly spent hour or so, and it appeared that the children in attendance all had a wonderful time, giving the show their rapt attention! If you care to see The Velveteen Rabbit, I would suggest calling ahead for tickets, as this seems to be a very popular offering. The show does continue with public performances through December 21st and you can get show information by going online at http://www.irtlive.com/shows_and_tickets/shows/velveteen/ OR http://tickets.irtlive.com/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=1379 OR by calling the IRT box office at 317-635-5252.

* – All photos by Zach Rosing
* – Banner artwork by Kyle Ragsdale

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