Deep in the hundred acre woods (Athens), where Christopher Robin plays (where Bobcats go to school), you will find the enchanted neighborhood (Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium) of Christopher’s childhood days.
That’s right, the most iconic Pooh Bear – and perhaps the only Pooh Bear – of all time made an appearance at MemAud at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in “Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation.” Accompanied by his trusty pals Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo and Owl, Winnie the Pooh sang about what it means to be a friend as well as how to find the best joy in life: hunny.
Athens locals, Ohio University students and anyone willing to make the drive watched in awe as the magical characters, originally crafted by English author A. A. Milne, came to life. Staying true to the premise of the characters being Christopher Robin’s plush toys, the characters on stage were rather large puppets controlled by the actors behind them.
Whether the audience was there to see Tigger bounce around the stage (because bouncing is what Tiggers do best) or to hear the dreadfully monotone cadence of Eeyore (“ohhh-kayyy”), it is safe to say there was a good turnout of Winnie the Pooh fanatics. The auditorium was buzzing with excitement as the audience took its seats.
Stuffed animals of favorite characters could be seen dancing and twirling in the air, as well as a multitude of homemade Winnie the Pooh merchandise including crocheted hats and a DIY Tigger costume, complete with ears and a tail. Throughout the performance, many noises could be heard including, but not limited to, the occasional sob, chatter and lots and lots of giggles.
Although the general demographic of the crowd was definitely geared to the younger generation, some attendees proved that love for Winnie the Pooh does not stop when someone simply grows up.
This was proven in OU alumna and mother, Robin Gray. Having received the tickets to the musical from her two daughters for Christmas, Gray said she was ecstatic to be back on campus and watch the beloved classic.
“It was two of my favorite things: Athens and Winnie the Pooh,” she said, laughing and clutching her own plush Pooh Bear.
The electric excitement remained for the entire performance, coming to a head during the climax when poor Pooh was stuck in a tree after eating too much honey. Luckily, Tigger, Piglet and Rabbit all worked together to unstick Pooh and make sure he was safe and sound.
For Amelia Marino, a freshman studying psychology, Winnie the Pooh signifies family and childhood memories. She said her brother is a super fan and her entire family had plans to drive and see the musical but unfortunately, they could not make it. Despite this, they told her to go out and see it, and she said she really enjoyed the show.
She said that during family trips to Disney World, her family would always make a beeline for “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” ride. She said even their home decor is reflective of their love for the classic tale.
“At our house, you’ve lost count of how many Winnie the Pooh things there are,” Marino said.
Another fan, Mal King, made the trip from West Virginia after finding out about the musical on TikTok and went on to receive the tickets as a birthday present.
King said she relates to the character Eeyore the most, going so far as to Disney bound – or dress up in an homage to a character – as him, donning a blue cardigan, gray undershirt and a lilac scrunchie.
“I definitely tried to encompass him in the fit,” King said.
As the audience made their way out of MemAud and into the night air, smiles were plastered on faces as attendees recounted their favorite parts of the musical and hummed the recent tunes.
Afterall, Winnie the Pooh said it best: “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”