The Train Theater brings a puppet show based on the beloved, Caldecott-winning children’s book A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, now playing at the New Victory Theater.
Every day Morris McGee gets up and takes the No. 5 bus to the zoo where he works and takes care of all the animals. He has never missed a day in his lengthy tenure at the zoo, until now, when he has a bad cold and can’t get out of bed. The original story shares a simple message that portraying kindness and thoughtfulness to others, and all species, is very important in our society.
In this production of the story, renamed A Sick Day for Morris McGee, it all plays out on one medium sized set, which is a large multi-use table complete with hidden props and simplistic special effects, with a singular puppeteer, Maayan Resnick, performing in full view. Benjamin David Elder narrates in a pleasant voice and the interaction between the narrator’s voice and the puppeteer are delightful and humorous.
It is always interesting to see how different companies present a puppet show, and although the cut-out stencil puppets were lovely, they were not very large or elaborate and had limited movement capabilities. The production did not seem to go beyond simply lengthening the story, and although it will most likely keep a child under five entertained, there is not much there for the adults who bring the children to enjoy. I found it disappointing that much of the charm that is prevalent in the book is not recreated in this show, with storylines such as the owl being afraid of the dark and the penguin being shy missing. The stage production spends much of its time on the details of its protagonist, Morris, getting up out of bed and his morning routine, leaving very little time for the depiction of his relationships with the animals at the zoo and the strong bond of friendship between Morris and the animals, which is the heart of the original story.
Still, for the children who love the book, seeing it come to life in puppet form will certainly be a treat and a nice way to keep them entertained on a cold New York winter’s afternoon.