amy zuch as corral blue
Corral Blue Can’t Dance, which plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre through July 11th, 2015 as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival and Fringe Kids, invites its audience to an Awesome Possum Party full of drawings, dancing, singing, jokes and puppets.
Set at Corral’s Corral Corral Blue Can’t Dance is a pastiche of 1980s Canadian children’s television programs and the American Hee Haw all rolled into one, only much funnier. It features puppet pals Robo Horse (80s Robot, but a horse) and Tumble Weed, a Mr. Dressup-style drawing story segment (with Slumpy the Snake!), music from in-house cowboy Cactus (Kevin Henkel), Improvised sketches with Cowboy the Hat (Devon Hyland) and songs sung by Corral Blue (Amy Zuch) herself. It’s akin to Pee-Wee’s Playhouse in its self-referential silliness that engages adults and children at the same time, on different levels, but it also has a perfectly endearing host in Corral Blue, and a strong, sweet message about not letting a perceived lack of natural talent stop you from doing the activities that you love.
Corral Blue is stopped in her tracks in the middle of planning her Awesome Possum Party when Robo Horse composes a new dance song because Corral Blue can’t dance. She has been intimidated by a dancer she saw once in the woods and has resigned herself to a dance-less life saying, “Unless you can dance like that, you have no business dancing at all.” With the help of her friends at the Corral Corral Blue learns an important lesson about the ways that we limit ourselves and allow others to shape our own self esteem.
Amy Zuch is adorable as Corral Blue; she has a vulnerable sensitivity, which lends itself well to a children’s show, but also a radiant silliness, and a sweet singing voice. Devon Hyland’s Cowboy the Hat is a charming complement to Corral, full of improvised jokes and sketches, while also gently pushing Corral to confront her fear of dancing.
The show is an ambitious one, with lots of different technical elements, from the live cartoon drawings to the robot horse, and there were a few bumps and glitches on Opening, which hopefully will get sorted out (and an awkward intermission that would benefit from having something onstage the entire time to engage the children while sets and costumes are changed). Yet, what strikes me most about what Zuch has created here is its potential. With a larger budget, these characters could find a home on Canadian television, and I think Corral Blue would make a fun addition to a network like CBC Kids. She is MUCH funnier and more genuine than most of the adults on children’s television, that is for sure.
Corral Blue Can’t Dance plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place) at the following times: