With their hour-long, family-friendly Leonard and Minky, composer-writer Joel Diamond and choreographer-director John Selya seem to be aiming for a hip urban analogue to Peter and the Wolf. Plenty of kids attended a recent matinee; one wonders what they made of such plot elements as herbal healing and the candlelit “cleansing ritual” that Minky, the female half of a feline odd couple, performs to try and save her dying mate.
Leonard’s a burly, unkempt hermit of a cat, resembling a youthful Peter Schickele as he interrupts his routine of eating and loafing to flail a baton wildly, conducting an orchestra he hears in his head. Primy Rivera, the actor who portrays him, does little to suggest “cat” (although he sports a long, furry tail) and fills long stretches with empty gesticulating. Narcissistic Minky, sleek in gleaming white, is portrayed by lithe Amanda Kay, who cleanly executes the basic ballet legwork and conveys her character’s shallowness and eventual generosity, but also has to fill a lot of time doing very little.
The youthful, eager five-member ensemble (a couple of squirrels, a bird, a poodle, and a dalmatian, if I read the costumes correctly) and the nasty street cat portrayed by Shawn Garner do most of the dancing, but are barely integrated into the story. Diamond’s fresh, jaunty score has a nice urban edge. The narration he wrote, on which the piece relies too heavily, is delivered on tape by Ed Koch in his inimitably Noo Yawk tones.