TAKING CHILDREN to the theater is one of those things that, as responsible adults, we're supposed to do—like cramming Brussels sprouts into their mouths, and pretending to have a great, positive outlook on life. So when a children's theatrical performance comes along that doesn't make you want to blow your head off... by all means, jump at the opportunity.
Oregon Children's Theatre's world premiere production of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is one such great example. Adapted by Finegan Kruckemeyer from Stephan Pastis' popular book series, Timmy Failure plays like an updated version of Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts—turned up to a slightly insane degree. The titular Timmy is a wildly imaginative eight-year-old who's convinced he's a genius. (Not so true... though what he lacks in common sense, he makes up for in megalomania.) Along with his 1,500-pound polar bear pal, Timmy runs an in-home "detective agency" that takes on cases involving missing candy and shoes... though his batting average for solving these problems is remarkably low. But that's beside the point: The primary thrust of the story involves Timmy's struggles with school and schoolmates, as well as his single mom's efforts to channel Timmy's unbridled creativity while preserving her sanity.
The cast is uniformly terrific, especially Pat Moran as Timmy, Scott Engdahl as his pal Rollo, and Katie Michels as the screeching Molly Moskins. But then there's also the clever stage design, snappy direction, and the adaptation from Kruckemeyer, which deftly weaves theatrical conventions with a breakneck pace. Best of all, there are plenty of witty, laugh-out-loud jokes for the adults, pratfalls for the littles, and empathetic, relatable situations for the middles. With so few terrific shows for children out there, it would be a mistake not to go with Timmy Failure.