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REVIEW: Fantastic Mr. Fox

by Rebecca M. Alvin

After 17 years at the helm, writer/director and founder of WHAT for Kids Stephen Russell has passed the torch. Fans of Russell’s original twists on classic tales will need to make an adjustment as the new WHAT for Kids, as evidenced by this production, provide shorter, more typical children’s theater experiences. The selection of Roald Dahl’s classic Fantastic Mr. Fox, is an excellent choice to bridge that gap, and director/designer Christopher Ostrom (who is also WHAT’s executive director) pulls together a tightly paced, one-hour (including intermission) show with wonderful performances from its young cast.

The story centers on the fox family, led by Mr. Fox (Terrence Rex Moos) who provides for his family by sneaking into local farmers’ chicken coops, cider cellars, and grain stores and bringing his spoils home for Mrs. Fox (Alyssa Freeman) to cook up a feast. In addition to the little foxes in the family, there are also badgers, rabbits, and other critters who are often the recipients of Mr. Fox’s sly endeavors. Of course, not everyone is happy with Mr. Fox’s strategy. Farmers Boggis (Colby Bell), Bunce (Paige O’Connor), and Bean (Aisling Sheehan) are determined to stop the fox’s thievery, if only they had the brain power to do it!

The story was written by Dahl in 1970 and was famously made into an animated feature by director Wes Anderson, featuring George Clooney as Mr. Fox. Its appeal comes from the same feature many Dahl stories have: rooting for the underdog, questioning authority, and valuing relationships in family bonds. As the farmers try to starve out the animals by keeping them from coming up from their underground homes, the bonds between animal friends grow, with Mr. Fox dreaming up a new world in which they all live together in an underground wonderland and he happily provides for them every night through his cleverness.

In this condensed version, adapted for the stage in 2001 by David Wood, young children will delight in the antics of Bell, O’Connor, and Sheehan as the dim-witted farmers and in Mr. Fox’s confident plotting to get around any obstacles thrown in his way. There are also clap-along music and dance sections and an inventive set involving a long dining table with trap doors built in it.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is best suited for children in the 6 – 10 age range.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is performed in the WHAT for Kids Tent at 2357 Rte. 6, Wellfleet, Tuesdays through Thursdays, 7 p.m. through August 15. For tickets ($12) and information call 508.349.9428 or visit

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Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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