“The Color of Stars” – Childsplay


Childsplay, Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe, AZ

What a wonderfully warm and touching play Dwayne Hartford has created for Childsplay in “The Color of Stars.”  It looks at World War II’s impact on a family in rural Maine.  In Graham Whitehead’s marvelously tender production acted with the usual aplomb of the fine Childsplay ensemble, this production is guaranteed to have young audiences and their chaperones in tears by the end.

“The Color of Stars” tells young Eddie’s story.  He’s moved in with his grandparents on the family farm while his father fights in the War and his mother builds ships.  His grandparents allow a government worker, Felix, to live with them while he inventories trees in the town that the government hopes to use to build mine sweepers.  A fire destroys the family’s trees and the suspicious family point fingers wrongly at Felix.  After much consternation, Eddie admits to setting the fire and the family are embarrassed at the accusations they made against Felix.  The show demonstrates the War’s impact on each character and why trust and honesty is critical.

The play is enormously touching and will paw at audience emotions.  Part of the play’s success is attributable to the exemplary Childsplay production and the fine acting of each performer.  Jon Gentry is a thoughtful and supportive Luke, the grandfather; Debra K. Stevens is the smarter Mabel, the trusting grandmother whose good thoughts about people keep her doubting that Felix could have set the fire.  The opinionated and biased uncle, Alfred, is played with forceful avarice by D. Scott Withers, while Katie McFadzen is the hard nosed aunt, Isabel.  Andres Alcala is quite moving as Felix and his closeness to young Eddie and his interest in the little boy is honest and genuine.  At the performance I attended, Sam Primack played Eddie with boisterous bravado but thoughtful introspection although he doesn’t disguise the fact that his interest in fire is bound to get him in trouble.  He alternates in the role with Aaron Zweiback.

The unit set showing the small farm’s common room, an eat-in kitchen and the areas around the property is perfect as are the historically accurate period costumes right down to the shoes.

“The Color of Stars” is an insightful, touching, introspective look at the evils of war, the closeness of families, and the need to approach every day with honesty and candor.  What a wonderful play both for young kids and for their chaperones.  It continues through May 20 with public performances on weekends at the Tempe Center for the Arts Theater and weekday school matinees.  For tickets, call the Childsplay box office at 480-350-3822 or order tickets online at www.childsplayaz.org.

Grade: A