Madcap’s ‘Story Quest’ is an Engaging Treat for Families

Review by Sherri Ogden Wellington

Madcap Theatre does it again!  Story Quest is engaging and charming with lots of wild and wacky puppets and stories to enthrall the unsuspecting toddler as well as the cynical grandpa. Story Quest is a tale of the Royal Storyteller, Everett Hickenbottom, who has told the Queen 999 stories but no longer has any tales left to tell.  Hickenbottom explains that the queen is demanding that he shares a new yarn with her later that very day or he will be turned into a boiled potato.  He shares two of his stories, ‘The Stolen Crown’ and ‘Feet Water,’ with the audience.  He then goes on his own adventure to find a new story and through that exploit, he finds a new tale for the queen.

Dylan Shelton, the Artistic Director, is the actor and puppeteer.  He is amazingly talented and keeps the audience laughing throughout.  He engages the audience by asking them questions, bringing both adults and children onto the stage to assist him, and even directing the audience as a whole to help him.  Shelton reacts spontaneously with humor and honesty to his volunteers and when something does not go according to plan, he flawlessly moves on.  

One is transformed into another world through the puppets.  Whether they are small like the White Tipped Fizz Fizz or huge like the Evil Genie, they mesmerize. There is giggling galore when the audience meets the Screaming Hag and the Burping, Belching Hag. A child yells out “Oh my goodness!” when he sees the Evil Genie.  It is amazing looking at the audience and seeing everyone thoroughly entranced by the puppets.

The music, the queen’s voice and all of the sound effects enhance the show.  Mel Hatch Douglas,the Associate Artistic Director, is behind the scenes helping make it all work.  The intimacy of the theatre itself aids in making the show magical.

One of the things that I look forward to when going to a Madcap production is that at the end of the show Shelton comes out and asks the audience if they have any questions or statements about the show or the puppets.  Many of the questions are regarding the puppets and Shelton explains the type of puppet the child is asking about and explains the type of puppet it is such as a “rod puppet”, a “hand in mouth puppet”, or a “scarf (stole) puppet”.  Other times the child may just say something silly. It is at this moment that it becomes obvious that Shelton truly enjoys his audiences because he will laugh along with the child and the audience then segway to the next question.

Story Quest, written by Jerry Handorf, the Founder of the Madcap Puppet Theatre, and Dylan Shelton, Artistic Director,  is an extremely delightful way to spend an hour.  If you are ready to keep the party going afterwards, then I suggest you do what I did with my kiddo.  After the show, when we were talking about our favorite puppet we walked across the street (Harrison Ave.)  to the playground and ran around making believe that we were various characters. Eventually when we got hungry we simply crossed the other street (Epworth Ave.) and had lunch at The Nation,   It can be one of those afternoons you and your children will joyfully remember for years if not decades to come.

The next show at the Madcap Education Center is Your Wish is Our Command on April 23 at 11 am and 1 pm. Get tickets and more information HERE. Madcap also regularly performs at the Cincinnati Art Museum and touring around the country.