Review: ‘Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane’ is a tale for young and old alike

Dana Omar with Edward. Photo by Mark Garvin

By Margie Royal
As Mother’s Day weekend approaches, People’s Light has a bittersweet family show on their main stage, ‘The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,’ based on the novel by two-time Newbery Award recipient, Kate DiCamillo. This Philadelphia-premiere, adapted by playwright Dwayne Hartford, tells the story of a self-centered and snobbish china rabbit named Edward, whose idyllic life ends when he is tossed overboard on a sea voyage by bullies. If you’re saying to yourself, it’s a kid’s show and I don’t want to see it, you’ll be missing out on an amazing show and amazing use of theatrical storytelling that speaks to the child in all of us.
Director Stuart Carden collaborated with composers Jessie Fisher and Erik Hellman, and uses a multi-talented cast of four to bring Edward’s story inventively to life. It’s not a musical, but music is used at intervals to tell the episodic story.  Rope, poles, ladders, crates and blankets are also used to seamlessly transform the stage as needed during Edward’s journey.
Charlie DelMarcelle, billed as The Musician, gives expressive voice to Edward’s inner thoughts. At times it’s funny, and gradually more and more poignant and heart-wrenching, Dana Omar, billed as the Woman, brings to life an array of multi-generational characters, showcasing her talent and range as an actress. Her young girl and old woman characters are genuine, and all are brought to life with depth and insight. The same can be said of Emily Peterson and Reggie White – they both play multiple roles with wonderful range and change of voice. Peterson, billed as The Traveler, narrates the show in between characters. Reggie White, billed as the Man, will break your heart when he portrays the boy who cares for his sister – just one of his many excellent character portrayals.
John Musial’s set suggests an old-time barnyard or theatre, which cleverly is used to become the places in Edward’s journey. That journey teaches the rabbit about love, and opens his heart, and Edward develops compassion for others.
Lee Fiskness’ lighting is, at times, appropriately magical. Rachel Healy’s costumes suggest a troupe of travelling players putting on a show in the early days of the twentieth century.
Bravo to the four actors who work together seamlessly, and create a magical theatre experience for young and old alike. I saw several adults wiping tears from their eyes at the end of the show. So, be warned – this show will pull at your heartstrings. You might want to make sure you have tissues with you if you go to see it.
“The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” plays on the Leonard C. Haas Stage  through June 4, 2017.
People’s Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets, call 610.644.3500 or visit