MORE FROM STORY THEATER-At the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater through October 7.
A little girl innocently voiced surprise at seeing on the stage an actor she recognized from television and another she remembered from a movie.
They were both racing around the Eisenhower Theater in "More from Story Theater," changing characters and costumes at a breakneck pace. It seems that she hadn't thought that people in her roster of showbusiness celebrities would still bother to work so hard just to entertain her and the few hundred other people a theater can hold.
Naturally, this brought on an exaggerated parental lecture about the difference between electronically reproduced mugging and The Liiive The-a-ter. Real acting is required to do the quick and exact sketches this troupe provides: Hamilton Camp being a disreputable rabbit; Richard Schaal as the Devil, wearily supplying flattery to unchallenging souls; Mina Kolb singing a mother's blues-"Oh, my daughter ate five pies!;" Regina Baff as a self-satisfied romantic heroine; and Richard Libertini making the chief characteristic of God the fact that He has seen everything.
Ten folk tales are dramatized in this second edition of "Story Theater," and there isn't a moral lesson worth learning in the lot. The child who would accept without argument "Perhaps it's better to be industrious than clever" isn't thinking.
But the pleasure of seeing the wealth of character and incident that good actors can create quickly on a plain stage is a treat for both parent and child. It's not the sort of holiday treat that a major production for children is supposed to be, with its elaborate costume and tricky effects. The treat in this is one's growing realization of such artistic subleties as the different ways actors can walk to turn themselves into kings, beggars or animals.
Of course, these fine points would be much better observed on a smaller stage, where there's no expectation of extravaganza. And learning to appreciate true acting is not everyone's idea of how to entertain a child -- it's not the theatrical equivalent of stuffing the kid with sweets. It's more like showing an unbeliever how delicious a good cheese can be.