Playhouse serves up a tasty treat with “How to Eat Like a Child”

— Created December 7, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Anyone looking for appetizing entertainment this holiday season might want to consider checking out what the Whidbey Playhouse is serving up.

“How to Eat Like a Child (And Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown Up)” opens Friday in Oak Harbor and runs through Dec. 18. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and matinee performances will be at 2:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Based on the Delia Ephron book, “How to Eat Like a Child” is directed for the Playhouse by Rusty Hendrix and is a series of 23 lessons about what parents need to know, from the children’s perspective.

This fast-paced, energetic show is filled with upbeat music, light-hearted humor and an enthusiastic cast.

“Our cast has 22 students that range in age from 7 to 16,” Hendrix described. “They have all become like a family and get along well with each other. The older children help out the younger ones; they work as a team. They are so excited to finally have an audience.”

From teaching adults the proper way to eat various foods, to lessons like “How to Beg for a Dog,” “How to Look Forward to Your Birthday,” or “How to Torture Your Sister,” it is clear the cast is having a good time on stage.

Whether the enthusiasm comes from the show’s content or from the fact this is the first children’s production in two years, it really doesn’t matter. It’s good fun and lively entertainment that will keep audiences grinning.

“The Whidbey Playhouse tries to have at least one show in the season that has children included,” Hendrix explained. “COVID put a stop to theater for almost two years. The classes had to stop also. ‘How to Eat Like a Child’ is the first show for kids after COVID. I was lucky enough to cast every child that auditioned. I think the cast is very excited to be on stage again.”

While it is true there are some cast members who have been on stage before, for several this is a new experience, which has given Hendrix the opportunity to share some lessons of her own with them.

“I think what is most fun for me about doing this show is to be able to teach stage etiquette as well as acting skills,” she said. “Kids are like sponges. They remember everything you teach them. It’s amazing.”

The same applies to learning the music for this show.

“The songs are light and fun,” said Hendrix. “Almost every song has fun choreography that goes with it. Children love singing and dancing. They learn so quickly. They are fun to watch.”

Andilynne Eller, age 7, is one of those making their stage debut in the show. She doesn’t seem daunted by singing in front of people.

“It’s a little scary, but I do like it,” she said with a giggle. “I really like that I have a solo and not very many people have a solo.”

Andilynne said her favorite part of the play is that she gets to be on stage with her older sister, Charlianne.

“My sister and I have a song together and well, I’m just excited that she’s in this with me because all the other plays I’ve done she’s been in the audience,” Charlianne agreed. “Now we actually get to act together, which is pretty cool.”

Danica Hong, 16, said she has enjoyed acting like a 10-year-old for the show.

“It was definitely a very fun challenge, but I was up for it,” she said. “I always take on a challenge; it makes it interesting. I loved working with people younger than me. It lets me tap into that inner child.”

When Hendrix describes the cast as becoming a family, there is a ring of truth to it, particularly when it comes to the sibling relationship.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Cora Fix, who is in the chorus. “There’s been a few people that have been on my nerves, but everyone here is really nice and I have a friend from school here. It’s just fun.”

“It’s been fun interacting with all the other actors and making friends,” said Lorena Kidd of working with a cast of different ages. “Sometimes it’s annoying, but it’s also fun.”

For Leo Hendrix, who is part of the chorus, this is his first time being in a play.

“It’s really exciting and fun,” he said. “It gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you explore new things.”

“This play is really funny and I like acting on stage,” said Cillian Burke, who said his favorite part of the show is the “dog song.” “It’s upbeat and I like how swingy it is.”

Selah Rivera’s favorite part of the show is the car scene from “How to Torture Your Sister,” because her character gets to be really mean to their sister.

“I’m not a mean person usually, so it’s kind of fun to play somebody that’s like the complete opposite,” she said.

“I like getting to be someone else and getting to step out of my skin to do things that I wouldn’t do, but as that character, I can do with ease,” said Elizabeth Lo, who described her character as a little bit pouty, whiney and a slight bit entitled. “She has an entire song complaining about walking places instead of being driven, but she’s a lot younger than I am.”

Clara Ashcroft is in the chorus and is also the understudy to two people.

“It can get a little challenging memorizing lines, but that’s something I’ve always been good at,” she said. “I do enjoy it, especially since I’m an understudy to one of my closest friends. We practice together in the mornings at school. I’ve helped her with her lines and I’ve been able to memorize them for myself to be her understudy.”

“At first it was hard,” said Isabelle Tucey, who is making her Whidbey Playhouse debut. “I have a solo and there’s a lot of lines. But I like the kids. I like watching the kids get their energy out.”

First time actor Delayna Hong, 7, is in the chorus. She said she likes to go out and sing and enjoys playing quietly backstage with her friends when she’s not on. She is looking forward to her favorite part of the show.

“Seeing my mom and dad in the audience,” she said.

Tickets for “How to Eat Like a Child” are $15 and may be purchased online at Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through Dec. 18.

“It’s a really interesting play and it’s super funny,” said Hana Traurig. “It has a lot of great songs and I think people are doing really well with their characters. It’s going really great.”

“Please come see the youth of your community perform a show they have worked very hard to bring to the Playhouse,” Hendrix encouraged. “It’s lighthearted and fun.”