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The Little Prince. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is presenting Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince as a fable for both children and adults, though it might be a little sophisticated for the former. The Aviator's plane goes down in the desert, where, with his supply of water running out and fearing for his survival, he encounters a strange, golden-haired boy and learns about the boy's home, an asteroid that boasts three volcanoes — one extinct — as well as a horde of troublesome baobab trees whose powerful roots threaten to tear the place apart, and a beautiful rose, with which the youngster is in love. The prince also spins satirical stories about the six planets he visited before Earth, each ruled by a foolishly eccentric man; the idea that adults are inherently ridiculous and only children can see clearly is central to the author's worldview. There are many autobiographical elements to the plot, the festival program explains. Saint-Exupéry himself spent several hallucinatory days in the Sahara after a plane crash, where he saw desert roses and encountered small desert foxes. The character of the Little Prince was inspired by his younger brother, Francois, who died of rheumatic fever. Director Philip C. Sneed is to be commended for using an adaptation (by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar) that sticks closely to the original text, and the spare, simple set, costumes and character groupings all refer to Saint-Exupéry's own watercolor illustrations. The Aviator tells us at the beginning how his attempts to draw as a boy were thwarted by the incomprehension of adults — he thought he'd created a boa constrictor that had just swallowed an elephant; they saw only a hat — and the production focuses closely on the act of drawing throughout. The Aviator sketches the scenes the prince describes, and we see the results on a screen; this makes for a dynamic illustration of the ways in which art and imagination shape reality. Presented by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival through August 14, University Theatre, University of Colorado at Boulder, 303-492-0554, www.coloradoshakes.org. Reviewed June 30.

Romeo and Juliet. The casting for this Romeo and Juliet is unusually strong, at least with Jamie Ann Romero as a tender and radiant Juliet. As Romeo, Benjamin Bonenfant is an absolute charmer through the first half of the evening, quieter and more feeling than his friends, funny in his romantic hormonal confusion, moving in his interactions with Juliet — but when things go drastically wrong, the performance falters. The more Romeo grieves, the more Bonenfant runs his words together into an undifferentiated stream. Yes, Romeo is sometimes a blubbering child — after all, he is not much older than Juliet — but we'd like to see him man up by the death scene. Geoffrey Kent's Mercutio is juicy, funny and energetic. His rendition of the Queen Mab speech is superb, a textbook example of how to vivify a monologue everyone has heard a thousand times before. Where Juliet's Nurse is often a chattering fool, an irrelevance, Leslie O'Carroll makes her flesh and blood — a feisty peasant, full of warmth and humor, limited in her way but so essentially strong that she easily removes the sting from the shameful scene in which Romeo's friends torment her. If ever there was a woman, peasant or no, who could take on these callow young aristocrats, it's this Nurse. In Mark Rubald's hands, Lord Capulet changes from a reasonably kind authoritarian to a family head so violent that you're forced to understand why the Nurse gives in to him, and Lady Capulet — an intense, etched-in-acid portrayal by Karen Slack — turns on Juliet with a mix of vindictive rage and baffled tenderness. By our standards, Lord Capulet is a batterer. By the standards of his time, he's just doing what's expected. If you want to find the root of the tribalism that dooms young love, look no further than here. Lynne Collins has directed a clean, swift, well-orchestrated production, with loads of adrenaline and testosterone sloshing around, a few stumbles and many nice touches. Presented by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival through August 13, Mary Rippon Theatre, University of Colorado at Boulder, 303-492-0554, www.coloradoshakes.org. Reviewed July 7.

A Touch of Spring. A Touch of Spring, Samuel Taylor's rarely performed 1968 comedy, has one foot in the '50s (it's set in 1959) and another in the late '60s, that era of questioning and boundary-pushing. It starts out as a charming romantic comedy, but after a brief, exhilarating fling with genuine iconoclasm, it falls back into conventionality, with a conclusion that's a little wicked — at least for the time — but also deeply disappointing. We first encounter Sandy and Diana Claiborne in an expensive hotel in Rome. He's a business tycoon, she's high society, and they're behaving like the typical ugly Americans abroad. They're in town to collect the corpse of Sandy's father, who died in a car accident, and then hurry back home. But no sooner has impatient Diana huffed back to the States than Alison, a young Englishwoman, appears with an errand similar to Sandy's. Her mother died in the same car accident as his father, and Sandy is the only one who takes more than a second to figure out just what this means. The one truly original character in the play is Baldassare Pantaleone, or Baldo, a fast-talking young Italian operator who can fix balky appliances, blow through the bureaucracy and reveal the sensual joys of Italy to both Sandy and Alison. But Baldo leaves the stage halfway through the action, sticking us with the lovers and dialogue so insipid that it's impossible to care very much how this affair turns out. As Baldo, Michael Bouchard runs off with the evening. Presented by Miners Alley Playhouse through August 28, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, 303-935-3044, www.minersalley.com. Reviewed July 28.

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