Clap for the Wolf, Man . . .

Characters from “Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood” include the Big Bad Wolf (John Russell), King (Rob O’Connor), Queen (Corrine Reed) and the Fairy Godmother (Grace Wilder).

Pine Tree puts Doo-Wop twist on classic tale

Start with the 1950’s doo wop group Sha Na Na. Now tell them to put on a performance of Little Red Riding Hood and you have some idea of what to expect from the upcoming Pine Tree Playhouse production of the children’s musical, “Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood.”

Director Matt Swanson explains that “Doo Wop” is the story of Red Riding Hood with a twist – it takes place in the 1950s, in a 1950’s style household and with 1950’s style costumes and technology references.

It also has 1950’s style music, hence the ‘Doo Wop’ in the title. “There’s doo wop, rock and roll and even some Calypso music – like Harry Belafonte might sing,” said Swanson.

But this isn’t your grandmother’s Red Riding Hood story. For one thing, the Big Bad Wolf is a vegetarian. And he’s also an Elvis impersonator, complete with spangled Vegas-style jumpsuit.

Swanson has assembled a talented cast of kids from ages 4 to 18 to tell this crazy, Daddy-O fairy tale.

“Putting on a show with kid actors during the summer months when they’re out of school brought some special challenges,” Swanson said.

The largest challenge has been the absence of large parts of the cast during the rehearsals due to summer activities like church camps, Vacation Bible Schools and family vacations.

“I’ll be working with half the cast on any given rehearsal day, while the other half is not in town,” Swanson said. “That’s a real challenge. Some kids can get their blocking (movement on stage according to the script and the director) and their lines at one rehearsal, and then the next week other kids will pick up their blocking and lines while we fill in for the ones who are gone.

“Fortunately,” Swanson quipped, “the kids learn the material very quickly.”

Swanson said he has a very talented cast with several strong singers. While there are no solo songs in the show, there are solo parts to some of the songs.

“That’s made it easier, and it should make the quality of the show pretty darn good, too,” he added.

The kids have really enjoyed the off-beat, upbeat nature of the show, Swanson said.

“A lot of kids’ shows are based on classical literature or the classical model, which are usually rather serious plays,” Swanson explained. “This is not a serious retelling of the Red Riding Hood story at all. The material is fun, the music is snappy and the story is sassy.”

Sounds cool, Daddy-O.

Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood opens on Friday, Aug. 2 at 8 p.m. and continues with 8 p.m. performances on Aug. 3, 9 and 10. Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m. on Aug. 4 and 11. Call the Pine Tree Playhouse at 803-635-6847 or email [email protected] for reservations. Tickets are $8 ($6 for students).

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