Even if you haven’t read Stephan Pastis’s charming “Timmy Failure” books, you’ll still enjoy the Oregon Children’s Theatre production, “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made.” We sat in on the show and found the exploits of a seriously clueless 8-year-old detective and his sidekick, a 1,500 lb. polar bear to be a hilarious, fast-moving and surprisingly sweet play older kids will love.

Owen Carey/Oregon Children's Theatre

photo: Owen Carey/Oregon Children’s Theatre

The Story
Timmy Failure is sort of like Calvin, of “Calvin and Hobbes” fame. (Except with the aforementioned polar bear, Total, as a sidekick, rather than a tiger.) Timmy has enough self-confidence to power a small city, plenty of quick-witted comebacks when faced with his evil nemesis, smart girl Corrina Corrina, and a booming detective agency, “Total Failure,” headquartered in his mother’s closet.

Timmy is convinced he’s destined for greatness. But until then, he has to confront “time-wasting distractions” like school; his giggly classmate, Molly, who has a serious crush on him; and his mother’s goofy new boyfriend. Did we mention Timmy’s trusty Failure-Mobile — a.k.a., his mother’s Segway — also mysteriously disappears?

Why You Should Go
All the actors are adults, clearly having a blast with the witty script, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Sometimes, the grownups in the audience are having so much fun, they’re laughing even more than the kids. (Hint: A cat, named Señor Burrito, steals the show.)

Even though it’s totally hilarious, the play manages to have some touching moments. When money gets tight for Timmy’s mom, they have to sell their home and move into a small apartment, where Timmy sleeps on a fold-out couch. Timmy gets a letter from his school, announcing he’s in danger of having to repeat a grade. And as a consequence, Timmy’s beloved polar bear gets sent to live at the zoo. Naturally, everything works out in the end, but until then, it adds some poignant suspense to Timmy’s goofy exploits.

Credit: Owen Carey/Oregon Children's Theatre

photo: Owen Carey/Oregon Children’s Theatre

The Inside Scoop
Running time is about 75 minutes without intermission, unless you count a brief interlude where Total, decked out in a hot pink tutu, performs a dance solo that incorporates ballet, disco, and even The Robot.

We’re pretty sure there are no bad seats in cozy Winningstad Theater, but if you can, get seats in the “pit” or sides of the first tier so even littlest kids can see all the action on the stage.

Afterwards, don’t run right back to your car. Think about sharing a plate of fries or flat bread at ArtBar & Bistro, the in-house theater cafe. It’s just swanky enough to make kids feel special.

Even better, immediately following the performance, kids have an opportunity to meet the actors  and get their autographs. While you’re standing in line, make sure to check out the drawings taped up just outside the theater. OCT invited a handful of local artists to live-sketch a recent performance of “Timmy” and the results — like this production and Timmy himself — are genius.

The Details
Saturdays and Sundays until March 22

Winningstad Theatre
1111 SW Broadway
Tickets are $18-$28/adult, $15-$24/child (Group rates are also available.)
Online: octc.org
Recommended for kids 8 and up.

Are your kids fans of the books?  Let us know in the comments below!

–Stephanie Booth