Munscha Mia A Hit For Children AND AdultsSunday, March 06, 2011
|Hilary, Lauren's mother|
For years I have questioned children’s festivals. It was in 1982 that my daughter Hilary (Lauren’s mother, see left) posed for a poster for the Vancouver Children’s Festival. For laughs I photographed her by one of her posters in Burnaby. I have always thought that such festivals pandered to children and forced long suffering parents to take them to festivals that nobody would like and that parents in particular (and this one, even more in particular) would find to be cutesy and irrelevant.
It was with that bothering me in the back of my mind that I cautiously took Lauren (8) to Saturday’s opening performance at the Waterfront Theatre of Carousel Theatre’s production of Munscha Mia.
I knew I was in trouble when in a pre-performance talk a young lady asked us to fasten our seats for some Abba songs.
But it was not to be. Or at least the Abba songs were past in short minutes or so it seemed to me. The singers and actors, Samantha Currie and Laura Jaye began to grow on me. The play following the plot of five of Pittsburgh-born but Canadian author Robert Munsch, delighted Lauren who proudly told me she had read all five books (in French!). I suspected this as every time I had to go to the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library my wife would give me a list (a long one) of the Munsch books in French that Lauren had already read.
Since I had never read any of the Munsch books in English (my wife Rosemary read them to Lauren in French editions) I had no idea why Munsch is so popular. I soon found out in a segment that featured Samantha Currie (as Mia Maybeeh) in multiple versions of the lowly pony tale and the copy-cat jealousy she produced with her rival Laura Jaye (as Lotta Munscha).
|Lauren Stewart & Benjamin Elliott|
But it was the presence of Benjamin Elliott, who was listed as Ace and musical director (he played on a keyboard) who transformed the fine play into an exceptional one that did not pander to my adult sensibilities. Lauren was entertained and so was I. Benjamin Elliott’s changing-face-expressions in a lanky (at least 6ft) frame was a delight to my eyes as were his multiple impesonations of Mia Maybech’s mother. Something about his performance brought memories of performances by Ryan Beil who is probably Vancouver’s funniest virtuoso actor. I can see a lot of that in Elliott and I look forward to seeing him in other plays (and not all just for children [and!] adults) in a near future.
Lauren and I left the Waterfront Theatre with contented smiles and I have begun to understand that there is indeed merit in plays dedicated for children. Some of the credit must be given to playwright Debbie Patterson and director Carole Higgins. Kudos to Carousel Theatre for helping me see the light.
|Lauren before going to see Munscha Mia|