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Review: ‘The Gruffalo’ is a jolly romp for all ages

With a clever take on a classic tale, “The Gruffalo” can be equally enjoyed by the wee ones and their companion adults. The show, developed in 2001 by the Tall Stories Theatre in Britain and brought here in a joint production with the Children’s Theatre Company, uses imagination as much as fancy settings and costumes to weave its spell.

That’s fitting, as the original book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler focused on using imagination and thought to get out of sticky situations. The story is simple: A tiny brown mouse heads into a dark forest in search of nuts. Along the way, she finds a host of predators ready to make a nice snack of her. She is able to defeat them by weaving a story about an even more terrible creation, the Gruffalo. But her work is put to the test when the fantasy creature makes his appearance on stage.

All of the action is brought to life by three actors — Karina Garnett (decked out in a brown outfit with pink gloves and high-top Chuck Taylors) is the mouse, Alex Scott Fairley plays the various predators, and Alan Park brings the Gruffalo to life. Fairley probably has the most fun, shifting from Cockney fox to stiff R.A.F. officer and a Ricky-Martin-inspired snake. The others get their moments, and they all work together like a well-oiled children’s-theater-producing machine.

It’s a jolly romp, with lots of jokes, songs and audience participation, and it’s the perfect length to keep everyone entertained throughout the show.

The Gruffalo.” Through Feb. 22. Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis. ($14 to $35). 612-874-0400 or online.

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