How to Eat Like a Child
by Redmond High School Theatre Arts

Carly Gilliland. Photo by Sonya Isherwood.Ah, childhood. It’s a time of play and a time of learning. And thanks to Delia Ephron, John Forster,and Judith Kahan, it became a play about learning in their musical How to Eat Like a Child. By the end of the night, far more than one lesson will be taught to the audience – all lessons by children eager to impart the valuable lessons they’ve learned to help them deal with the new world they’re discovering. How to understand your parents, how to beg for a dog, how to pretend to be sick, how to torture your sister, how to do your homework, and so on and so forth. Including, of course, how to eat like a child.

The genius of this particular production, held at Redmond High School near Seattle, is that Director Misty Carson held the show in the school’s cafeteria. Yes, it’s dinner theatre. The dinner is brought out in servings by students, during which the cast members pause from the show but remain in their roles as young grade-school children, joining us at the tables where they ask us the sort of questions you get asked by eight-year-olds and tell us tidbits about their lives.

Our table was visited by Lauren Funaro and Carly Gilliland – “sisters” in 3rd and 4th grade respectively who clearly have not forgotten how to act and talk exactly like children half their age, capturing the right body language, uninhibited curiosity, eagerness to talk about what they like and don’t like, making observations older kids and adults may be reluctant to make, a propensity to draw and write with crayons, and a little sisterly rival. Part of Misty Carson’s idea was to give the actors the challenge of staying in character, and Lauren and Carly couldn’t be parted from their characters for a moment despite my occasional attempts to ask questions to break the illusion. The interplay among our table’s two performers and the other audience members at our table quickly became at least as important to the entertainment as the show itself, and was certainly one of the more amusingly unique theatrical experiences you’re likely to come across.

And then, of course, there’s the show itself. It is staged all around the perimeter of the table settings, which often made for a bit of work to keep up with the source of the spoken lines – locating the speaker and then adjusting your position in your chair to view them. But overall the setup worked pretty well, keeping people alert and making sure we were all close to the action at some points.

A few of the highlights of the various scenes included:

How To Beg For A Dog – Darren Caulley and Thomas Moore trying to convince their parents how easy it will be to keep a dog with them promising to do all the upkeep, and hilarious physical comedian Kim Cundy acting out the role of the dog with magnificent expressions and body language.

How To Stay Home From School – Survival skills of playing sick by Akshika Patel, Audrey Geiger, and the ever-amusing Kelsey Kinzer who really does seem to have a cold as she’s always wiping her nose on her aqua-colored sweatshirt (to match her orange sweatpants). It’s very important to only play up the sick part to the point that you have to take a St. Joseph’s Aspirin. You don’t want to end up at the doctor’s office getting a shot or something.

How To Practice The Violin – Our own Carly Gilliland, who had just recently been asked to play the air guitar at our table, proves to be a true guitarist when she gets bored playing a practice song The Jolly Buccaneers on her violin (which is basically scales and has nothing to do with pirates). She soon tosses the violin and imagines herself as a rock star, jamming out in a big way on an electric guitar.

How To Wait – And our very own Lauren Funaro teaches us how to melodramatically wait when parents are late picking her up (later, at the table, mean older sister Carly will confide/rub it in that their parents really did forget Lauren once).

How To Brag – Josh Oratz and Bridget Dillon get caught up in a dueling duet over who has had the most stitches and other badges of honor.

How To Put On Make-Up, with sisters using their hapless brothers as guinea pigs, is quickly retaliated by the brothers with How to Torture Your Sister.

How To Get Ready For Bed is a big one, from excuses to staying awake to faking out that teeth brushing thing, and ends with wholesale rebellion wherein the cast refuses to fall asleep (for as long as they can).

Other soloists teach us how to argue that childhood should be a time free from the work they’ll have to do the rest of their lives (Greg Rocha), Caitin McCartney singing the praises of birthdays, and a very ticked off Geena  Pietromonaco letting her parents have it after she’s sent to her room in Sayonara.

And, of course, there’s a lesson on How To Eat Like A Child. In fact, there are several lessons, including Rachel Solomon demonstrating some of the grosser ways you can play with your food, and Carly and Lauren giving us several eating and drinking etiquette examples right at our dinner table. Yes, that food was pretty much like school cafeteria food, but the show made eating it highly enjoyable anyway.

Performed November 1 - 18, 2007.

Photos by Sonya Isherwood.

Rob Hopper
Executive Director
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Photo by Sonya Isherwood.

Darren Coulley
Spencer Clouse
Kim Cundy
Bridget Dillon
Lauren Funaro
Audrery Geiger
Carly Gilliland
Lauren Isherwood
Kelsey Kinzer
Emily Mann
Catlin McCartney
Thomas Moore
Patrick Mulligan
Josh Oratz
Akshika Patel
Geena Pietromonaco
Greg Rocha
Rachel Solomon
JoJo Turner

Stage Director: Misty Carson
Lighting Design: Ruth Barton
Vocal Director: Andreww Schmidt
Music Director: Andrew Robertson
Stage Manager: Connor Hobbs
Props Design: Brittney Berthold


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