I have to admit that growing up in the 1970s, I was a huge fan of Winnie-the-Pooh. Which is why it warmed my heart when I heard that Ottawa School of Theatre’s all ages class would be presenting a series of Winnie-the-Pooh stories at the Shenkman Arts Centre on April 14, 15 and 16.
|The all ages class at the Ottawa School of Theatre perform Winnie the Pooh at the Shenkman Arts Centre. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
When it comes to children’s classics from the 1960s and 1970s – I’m talking about the animated versions – Winnie-the-Pooh stands right up there with the Charlie Brown and the Peanuts. And like the Peanuts, Winnie-the-Pooh still stands the test of time.
The OST production included six of the most well-known and much-loved stories about Pooh and his friends Rabbit, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga, Roo and Piglet. (For some strange reason, Tigger was not included.)
In the opening story, a hungry Winnie-the-Pooh decides to try and climb a tree to get some honey. When that doesn’t work, he comes up with an idea to attach himself to a helium balloon and float up to the honey. When that doesn’t work, Christopher Robin has to use a slingshot to burst the balloon so that Pooh can get back to earth.
The second story was about the time when Winnie-the-Pooh got stuck in the door leaving Rabbit’s house after he ate all of Rabbit’s honey and had to be extricated by Christopher Robin. In the OST production, the cast elicited the help of the younger members of the audience who all pulled together to free Pooh from the door.
The third story was about when Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet came up with a plan to catch a Heffalump only to have Pooh get his head stuck in a honey pot which Piglet
mistakes as one of the mysterious elephant-like creatures and runs away frightened.
The fourth story is about the time when Eeyore’s misplaced tail ends up being used as a bell ringer at Owl’s house.
The fifth story, which was entitled “A Very Strange Creature”, was about when Winnie-the-Pooh and the gang first meet Kanga and Roo in the Hundred Acre Wood.
The sixth and finally story is about when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh throw a birthday party for Eeyore to try and cheer him up.
As all ages productions go, you can’t go wrong with Winnie-the-Pooh. The A.A. Milne children’s classic was first published in 1926, but the stories and the main character didn’t become broadly popular until Walt Disney turned them into an animated series in 1961. All of which to say, it has been enjoyed by several generations over the years, which is why it is such an all ages classic.
One of the things I liked most about the OST production was the use of the large cast to enable a different cast member to play both Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin in each scene or story.
To learn more about the Ottawa School of Theatre and the various classes they provide for aspiring actors of all ages visit ost-eto.ca.