ELLIE AND THE STAR
Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington
11/07/2017 - 22/07/2017
Ellie reaches for the Stars: An out of this world adventure
Ellie is a young girl who dreams of being the first New Zealander to travel into space. One night she is playing with her telescope in the garden when she sees a bright object shoot of out the sky: a fallen star!
Ellie runs off in search of the star, who turns out to be much more than Ellie had imagined, and together they set off to find a way to get the Star home to the night sky. On their way they cross paths with the noble Knight Owl, an adventurer and guardian of the forest, who is sworn to help those in need. The Knight Owl has a plan to help the Star, but to achieve it the trio must travel deep into the forest to the lair of the wicked Wind Wolf where Ellie’s courage, intelligence and imagination will be put to the ultimate test…
After his summer directing the revival tour of DinoRock: A Musical for Kids and producing Fringe at the Gryphon, Aaron Blackledge directs Simon McArthur (Fresh Leaf)’s first children’s show.
Go on a journey that was written in the stars! Kids won’t want to come back down to Earth.
Ellie and the Star
Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street
11-22 July 2017
11am and 1pm Tuesday to Friday
11am only on Saturdays
$10 / Groups of 10+ $9 each /
Book by 23 June for $8 tickets
Theatre , Family , Children’s ,
Imaginative with wide appeal
Review by Jo Hodgson 12th Jul 2017
Ten year old Ellie is a down-to-earth girl who dreams of places high above it.
We meet Ellie in her Grandfather’s garden peering through her new telescope (which – she proudly states – she put together all by herself) at the night sky.
While checking out constellations like Orion, The Bear and Pegasus something out of this world happens and she realises that one of the Southern Cross stars has fallen out of the sky. She goes in search of the star and through the help of Sir Hoo the Knight Owl (ba dum tish), together they solve the mind riddles of the crafty Wind Wolf and discover what is truly important in life in their quest to send the Star back into the sky.
Kapital Kids’ Theatre have mastered the formula of kids theatre over the years and writer Simon McArthur certainly keeps up this tradition with his first children’s show. Ellie and the Star is an imaginative story which appeals to the range of ages attending this opening performance (approx 2 – 10 yr olds).
The younger ones are well entertained with the stories of space and stars, fun noises to make, engaging songs and dances (a good hook in using well known songs like ‘Twinkle Twinkle’) and the beauty of live-interactive theatre is the chance to call out and give ideas to the characters. One pre-schooler took the interaction to another level completely upstaging the actors while trying to catch the dancing lights on the floor.
For the older children (and adults) there are riddles to solve and a plethora of clever (and groan-worthy) puns, educational facts about space and moral dilemmas to ponder. Again, the use of ‘hooks’ – weaving in well-known quotes from history, poetry and age focussed general knowledge – gives the audience a sense of belonging and partnership in the investment of the exchange.
I particularly like the expressive writing which isn’t dumbed down just because its ‘children’s theatre’ and I wish I could remember word for word an evocative piece of prose about the day turning into the next day and the magical space in between.
The story has a pretty good flow to it, which I’m sure will get tighter now that they have the audience interaction and can figure out where they might need to encourage or coach the audiences to join in. I do feel a little more of this would have helped to get the artistic balance between the pacing of the narrative with the improv and panto style moments enhancing the energy and dynamic in the live theatre audience and actor relationship.
The performers, directed by Aaron Blackledge, all give connected and energetic performances as they portray their very distinctive characters.
Lauren Simpkin’s Ellie is what is now termed a ‘Mighty Girl’: a girl who has been empowered to follow HER dreams and interests. She is smart, empathetic and can think on her feet. Lauren creates a very likeable role model in Ellie and shows great resilience as she meets the challenges she faces.
The curious and child-like Star, Natalie Wilson, shows off her dance and movement skills while the talon-ted (groan) Darryn Woods portrays the honourbound sWORDsmith Sir Hoo with great comic timing.
Hamish Boyle plays the urbane Wind Wolf with a conceited air and through not being the ‘ah – ha ha ha’ type villain, manages to trick the audience into helping him find the ‘sky diamond’.
The choreography is upbeat and current with music styles featured from Beethoven to Bruno Mars (‘Treasure’?). The songs are delivered with great zest through the acting and dancing – and, as a singer, I would love more attention given to the vocal production so it can match as strongly with the other disciplines.
It’s always interesting to see what remains in the minds of my children after seeing a show. I now have a 4 year old Willie Nelson fan requesting and singing (on repeat) ‘On the Road Again’ like Sir Hoo!! Classic!
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