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get some peace

You can't really fault a show for not being faithful to the novel Swiss Family Robinson. The original tale is fairly dull going, a useful manual if you really are stranded on a desert island and want to read descriptions of farming and building tools and the such (mixed in with a lot of praying and piety) but rather dull in general. But the "family shipwrecked on an isle" story is too engaging a concept and so Swiss Family Robinson has been expanded and contracted over the centuries, dumbed down for kids (who might be shocked at the constant slaughter of animals in the original; hey a family's gotta eat!), stripped of its moralizing, juiced up in the action by Disney and so on.

Still, this new musical by the brothers Kennedy does lose sight of the basic appeal of this story: a family surviving and learning to depend on each other on a deserted island. (Patrick and John did the book, John did the music and lyrics, Walter did the choreography and Patrick directed.) Their island is bursting with so many characters -- from French sailors who are NOT pirates to school girls who are being raised in an Amazonian-style by their mistress -- that the poor Robinsons might well search out another more deserted island to get some peace.

The minimal staging and choreography add little to the story, but the story is less isolated survival and more Gilbert & Sullivan romp. The Robinsons are stranded on an island after their ship is capsized in a storm. It's lucky in a way since they were being threatened by dread French sailors, who have a young man in captivity they hope to ransom. That young man is actually a girl (the very appealing Jessie Shelton), who has been adventuring with her father all over the world and isn't about to let some French fools stop her from getting away.

They're all on the island where schoolgirls are running around in odd native garb, encouraged in their heathen ways by a mistress who has taken advantage of their earlier shipwreck (this island is quite the busy way station) to teach the gals independence and a forthright disdain of the male species. Men. Who needs 'em? That lasts about one second after the girls get their first glimpse of the Robinson lads.
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