Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Red Riding Hood
Arden Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Ciera Gardner and and Jo Vito Ramirez
Photo by Ashley Smith, Wide Eyed Studios
"Little Red Riding Hood" is a classic fable that has been adapted into many different forms of media, including a variety of plays. With Red Riding Hood, playwright Allison Gregory and Arden Children's Theater have put a new spin on the well-known story that focuses on the importance of collaboration, the protean nature of fairy tales, and the value of friendship. Two actors take on all the parts in this occasionally silly and always upbeat production. They play off each other with adorable enthusiasm, but there are places where the narrative stalls out for too long and the pace lags.

This version starts with a young actor named Wolfgang preparing to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood in his bedroom. Wolfgang is all set to skip the boring intro and head right to the gory good parts when a curious delivery person comes into his room and starts asking questions. Together, Wolfgang and the Delivery Person discuss the nature of storytelling, come up with their own version of Little Red's tale, and generally caper and cavort all over the intimate stage. The energy is fantastic and there are lots of funny moments everyone in the family can enjoy, but the simple story is stretched out for too long.

Jo Vito Ramirez brings a wonderfully zany energy to the role of pretentious but well meaning Wolfgang. Ciera Gardner is thoroughly charming as the daring and clever Delivery Person. I cannot wait to see what these actors do next. Rebecca Wright directs this farcical comedy with a frenetic energy that keeps all the young people in the audience engaged and entertained. Thoughtful set design is essential to any good farce and Andrew Cohen's set design is fabulous.

It's not perfect, but there is a lot of love in this fun and genuinely insightful production.

Red Riding Hood runs through June 9, 2023, at Arden Theatre Company, Arcadia Stage, 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia PA. Tickets start at $25. For tickets and information, please visit, call 215-922-1122, or visit the box office in person.

Jo Vito Ramirez: Wolfgang
Ciera Gardner: the Delivery Person

Rebecca Wright: Director
Andrew Cohen: Set Designer
Krista Smith: Lighting Designer
Leigh Paradise: Costume Designer
Alex Bechtel: Sound Designer
Kate Nelson: Stage Manager