August Miller, Deseret Morning News
"Big Friendly Giant" cast includes Celesta Rimington as Sophie, left, Laurel Barham as Childchewer, Corinne Timmons as Gizzardgulper, Nik Mikkelsen as Bonecrusher, Shawn Mortenson as Big Friendly Giant, Deborah Bowman as Meatdripper and Josh Patterson as Bloodbottler.
THE BFG, BIG FRIENDLY GIANT; SCERA Center for the Arts; 745 S. State, Orem; through Nov. 9; 225-2569; running time, 1 hour 15 minutes with one intermission.

OREM — You might think a play filled with monsters who go by the names of Fleshlumpeater, Childchewer and Bonecruncher would be too scary for kids.

Or that the scenes filled with whiz-popping body noises after the characters drink drinks that fizz downward would offend adults.

But neither is the truth.

The kids loved the monsters with their great soft heads, and audience members of all ages were laughing heartily at the whiz-popping.

This is a show that's silly and fun and likable while still managing to tell a story about dealing with bullies.

"BFG" does indeed snatch Sophie from her bed, but he's a kind-hearted giant who mixes and mangles his words as he explains who he is and what he does. He also protects Sophie and takes her with him to collect dreams, so he's one of the good guys.

Meanwhile, the child-eating giants are also decked out in bright, friendly colors and the adventure is told in a way that isn't fearsome (although the two kids called up from the audience to be eaten looked a little uneasy).

Roald Dahl's story is kept pretty much intact and the action moves right along.

In addition to giants, there's a good assortment of puppets whose sizes make the giants all the much bigger.

Celesta Rimington does a good job of being both Sophie the girl and Sophie the puppet.

Shawn Mortensen makes a good BFG. He's affable and big. His collecting of dreams is interesting to watch. (It's a shame all of the colored lights inside the collection jars didn't work. Maybe after the play gets going.)

In fact, all of the cast members get right into their parts, and they have a busy time. They each play multiple characters, dance, sing and have to make rapid-fire costume changes.

The set is simple but effective. The costuming is great.

And there are a number of clever devices worked in that sell the story and add interest such as the shadow play "belly poppers" scene with the hapless bird and the Queen of Sweden talking on a modern-day cell phone with the Queen of England. Kudos to David Whitlock, the director.

This is a story that can entertain and amuse and then parents can talk with their children about the giants in their lives who cause them trouble.

Grandkids ages 8 and 6 really, really liked it. Granddaughter age 4 was a little restless and unrelated, children ages 2 and under in the rows behind us were too young to be there.

Just bring the school-age children. Then you can both enjoy it.


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