Isn’t it just ridiculous that in 2018, we adults have learned absolutely nothing … and that the more things change, the more they stay the same … and that the more progress we’ve made, the more backward we really are?!? Well, thank goodness for bright, bold, unapologetic children’s musical theatre! It says it like it is, without sugar coating or subtlety – kids just don’t buy into that nonsense.
Written by Melvin Tunstall III, composed by our very own SA boykie, Greg Borowsky together with Douglas Lyons, who also wrote the lyrics. The original idea of POLKADOTS was inspired by the Little Rock Nine who ended segregation in American schools in the late ’50’s. But before you start yawning, and wondering how on earth this relates to kids of today … sadly it does!
What’s it all about? Lily Polkadot (the gorgeously bubbly Gugu Dhlamini) has recently moved to the town of Rockaway and is apprehensive about her first day of school. She’s the only Polkadot in a school of Squares. And immediately she’s targeted by Mean Girl, Penelope Square (Kirsty Marillier, in fabulous, full-scale viciousness), purely because of the way she looks – she’s a ’round peg, in a square hole’ and isn’t wanted here! She’s misunderstood wherever she turns, and whatever she says (despite her determined optimism), and even confronted with a separate water fountain to drink from! All she needs is one friend so that she doesn’t feel alone. Surprisingly this comes in the form of Penelope’s shy brother Sky (wonderfully awkward and endearing Bonginkosi Jay Hlatshwayo), and also the sunny teacher Mrs Square (vivacious and highly accomplished
Andrea Shine – who also doubles up as Mama Square).
This small, but extremely skilled cast has no trouble keeping its audience enthralled, engaged and entertained and in just 55 colourful, vibrant minutes, our four main characters teach us all some fundamental life lessons!
There’s a very good reason why POLKADOTS recently won the Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Family Show in New York. The entire show teaches us that what makes us different is what makes us awesome! Not one of us is the same, and why do we even want to be? But then why can’t we accept each other as we are – for after all, we’re all the same on the inside?
Kids of all ages will gain something from POLKADOTS, whether it’s just the fun element, the catchy songs that carry great messages, or the more in-depth meaning of the storyline. There’s really something for everyone here.
This is POLKADOTS’ first international production and it’s not surprising that it’s led by an award-winning local team. Making its debut at this year’s REDFEST, followed by a week of school holiday shows at Redhill, it’s produced by Joseph Gerassi for Redhill School, in association with producers Drew Bakker and Rowan Bakker for &CO, together with associate producer Matthew Counihan. Shelley Adriaanzen directs and choreographs, with musical supervisor by Rowan Bakker and production design by Sarah Roberts.
With its strong anti-bullying message, a tour schedule is in the pipeline. So keep a close eye on the POLKADOTS SA Facebook page for updates.
For info on shows this week, and to book, click here.
Don’t miss POLKADOTS. I can’t recommend it enough!
All cast photo credits: Ronel Hugo
Written by Mike Kenny
Directed by Francois Theron
Once again, director Francois Theron succeeds in bringing a production to life in such a way that it’s perfectly accessible to and understood by the youngest of theatre-goers. We are so used to productions that are big, bold and shiny – far too brash and sophisticated for the likes of younger minds who are just getting to grips with what theatre is all about and how they can relate to it. The National Children’s Theatre is the ideal space in which they can do that.
I’ll admit from the start, I’m a fan of anything that relates to Peter Pan, and this didn’t disappoint. Sarah Roberts has created costumes and a set that will delight young audiences, and will inspire them to go home and re-enact both in their own homes! She’s made use of everyday household items that children will be able to find around their homes and that of their friends: an umbrella (the big, magical moon), gardening rakes (crocodile teeth), sleeping bags (mermaid tails – assisted by braces) … they might have to look a bit further for a wheelbarrow (a boat)!
The animated cast are an absolute delight and interact energetically with their highly enthusiastic young audience. Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku as Wendy can be forgiven for her somewhat errant accent (slightly British … somewhat not-so-much) because she’s completely endearing and utterly lovely, and she sings beautifully. Daniel Kieth Geddes is Wendy’s younger brother John; he’s also a rather raffish Captain Hook, who’s actual quite wonderfully comical. Danny Meaker is the youngest, sleepiest brother Michael. He’s trying to show his older siblings how brave he is by sleeping out in the back garden with them. Meaker also plays Peter Pan, our well-known protagonist who never wants to grow up, leading Wendy to face her own fears about growing older and leaving childhood behind. Phiphi-Gu’mmy Moletsane is a charming and cheeky Tinkerbell who kids will immediately relate to. She’s mischievous and playful, willing to do anything for her hero Peter Pan.
Based on Mike Kenny’s adaptation of James Barrie’s original Peter Pan, this is a gentle and imaginative way of telling this popular and much-loved story to a far younger audience. The songs are catchy and enjoyable. I’m thinking they’re added in for maximum effect and to hold attention for as long as possible. It certainly works. Parts of the show are interactive and will enthral the young children who sit in front on cushions, and are virtually a part of the actual production. If your child is more sensitive, it might be better to keep them further back with you if you think they might feel slightly intimidated sitting near the front.
I highly recommend this if you have young children. (I’d say from age 4 to about age 12.) Productions at the National Children’s Theatre are of excellent quality, and are one of the best ways to introduce younger audiences to the magic of theatre and imagination.
The theatre is situated at 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown, Johannesburg
Underneath a Magical Moon is on until 15 April 2018.
BOOKINGS: Call the theatre on 011 484 1584/5 or firstname.lastname@example.org