Stages Theatre Review Archive

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse – Stages Theatre Review – October 2013

Thanks to Stages Theatre Company for providing tickets for this review of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  While the tickets were given to us all opinions are mine! 100%.

While I was expecting a great show, I had no idea what we would experience while watching Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  Stages Theatre Company is producing this kid-friendly theatrical performance until October 20, 2013 and you don’t want to miss it.

Based on the children’s literature works by Kevin Henkes (who is from Wisconsin, our neighbor), Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is a conglomeration of three stories.  All of them starring Lilly.  Chester’s Way and Julius, Baby of the World and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse are woven together in a script by Kevin Kling (Minnesota’s own) in just the way I imagined it would be when I’ve read them to my kids.  I was thrilled that the play didn’t stray from the stories except for a few scenes that Kevin Henkes could have written into the stories himself.

Lilly's Purple Plastic PurseThe day we were scheduled to catch the show started in a very rough fashion, so unfortunately, we were rushed more than I wanted to be since our first stop was the library for the book by Kevin Henkes .  We had already read it at our house a number of times, but it had been a while, so I wanted to remind the boys (yes, my preschool boys) about the story.

The great thing about Lilly is that her best friends are two unique little boys, so this story is great for all children: boys or girls.

Let me tell you a little about Lilly (besides who her best friends are).  She is exuberant, vibrant, dramatic, daring, fearless, creative, extreme—in a word exhausting!  And amazing.  Lilly is the kind of mouse that makes life exciting whether it’s because she loves everything or she feels brave because she wears band-aids.  She is a girly-girl who gets dirty and loves it.  She dances, she draws, she rides a scooter, she wears costumes, she spends time in the Uncooperative Chair, she wears red boots, she sings.

Life is not boring for Lilly.

The play opens as a scene from Chester’s Way with Chester (Abby Schroeder)and Wilson (Cason Willman)  who are two peas in a pod.  They are cautious, love routines, play croquet, double-knot their shoes, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Enter Lilly played by Gabi Jones, who breaks them out of their shell (or peapod) while they welcome her into their safe little world.  One of my favorite parts of the play is at the beginning when Lilly scares away the bullies who are “making personal remarks” to Wilson and Chester.  That seals it for everyone.  Lilly is in.

And now it’s three peas in a pod!

As the story continues, we meet Lilly’s pregnant mom  and her eccentric dad.  Then, Julius, who Lilly loved en uteuro, is born and causes much strife in Lilly’s life.  No longer does she care about Julius.  He is nothing but a germ.  And a germ is nothing.  So Julius is nothing.

We meet Lilly’s cousin Garland who ultimately and unintentionally convinces Lilly that her little brother is beautiful.

Lilly's Purple Plastic PurseWhile Lilly was the star, my favorite character (and I’m guessing most people’s favorite) was  Mr. Slinger.  Mr. Slinger, played by Todd Bruse, was portrayed exactly how I pictured him when reading the book.  Everything down to the tone of his voice.  It was almost eerie.

It’s with Mr. Slinger that Lilly has her biggest conflict.  Don’t get me wrong.  Lilly LOVES Mr. Slinger.  Adores him. Idolizes him.  That’s why her life was so dreadful when he took from her the brand new purple plastic purse her Grammy purchased and held it for safe keeping the rest of the day.

How does she deal with this devastation?  Will her life never be the same?

Well, I guess you will just have to find out!


  • The show was one hour. With no intermission, it captured both boys attention for almost the entirety.  Jack, my three old, got a little antsy toward the end but was able to keep it together and enjoy it.
  • Stages understand kids.  They provide booster seats for little ones.  Both of the boys loved them and used them until Dash got a little nervous and crawled into my lap. For the most part the audience was quiet, so no one was upset when we needed to explain things to our kids or when kids laughed out loud (even in the “wrong” place).
  • No scary parts were in the show.  Once the actors were on stage, I don’t think the lights went completely down for the rest of the show.  A word of caution.  Lilly is kind of loud.  She has to be.  That’s who she is.  And this startled my extra sensitive 5 year, but there was nothing else that you need to worry about.  Some might argue that the FBI agents coming for Mr. Slinger dream sequence scene is scary, but I would beg to differ.

This is the perfect play to introduce your children to theatre with most of the actors being children, with the short length of the play, with lots of action and music,  and with the beloved children’s story retold.

Lilly's Purple Plastic PurseLilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes, adapted by Kevin Kling
playing September 20-October 20, 2013
Hopkins Center for the Arts

2 thoughts on “Stages Theatre Review Archive”

  1. “The Prince of Arrogance, who is played by Theodore Emo, is a likeable arrogant character. He reminded me a little of Neil Patrick Harris, and he really steals the show.”

    Theodore Emo is my son. He died on Dec 2nd, 2020. I found this article while searching his name on Google.

    You’re critique offered me some tiny comfort this afternoon.

    1. Mike. I’m so sorry for your loss. While it has been several years, I do remember that play and your son lit up the stage.

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