HomeNews & eventsUpper Prep’s Moana a joy to watch

Upper Prep’s Moana a joy to watch

Years 6, 7 and 8 staged a magnificent production of Moana Jr, the musical based on the hit Disney film. Our art teacher Phil Magson supported by supervising the creation of some wonderful props. He was also moved to pen this review:

I have seen rehearsals close to show-time before that have suggested imminent disaster and humiliation for all concerned. Unexpectedly, somehow the cast have usually pulled a rabbit out of their collective hat and performed superbly.  Having witnessed the last practice session for Moana, chaos was not as evident as on previous observations so it was not a surprise to see a more polished version achieved a day or so after. And what a shiny polish it was!

With the children donning headdresses and outfits that actually spoke of the south seas, created spectacularly by seamstress extraordinaire, Ms Wainwright, the opening scene promised more than just a splash of colour – and not a tea-towel in sight.

Songs and phrases that had begun to be not just familiar, but also a mite irritating (imagine how Mrs Dance must’ve felt) when on stage, were ignited with verve and context. I even hummed along a little… to myself, of course.

Once you’d gotten your head around the fact that there were multiple Moanas and Mauis, the whole set-up became less surreal. What had been a patchwork of unrelated snippets of a tale in rehearsals was now beginning to make sense, and an actual story did indeed exist. You might have gathered – I’m one of the few people on the planet not to have seen Disney’s interpretation.

There were jokes, too. How could there not be, when half the cast already think they’re comedians in class. While specific lines have trickled from my memory, I do recall having more than the occasional chuckle.

Like all reviews, especially of any creative act, impressions, positive or negative, are subjective. I hate to think that any of the actors not about to be mentioned will be upset, because everyone, genuinely, impressed me. I enjoyed Flo’s gentle, soothing singing, George, Henry and Alf’s spirited acting, Morgan’s face and movement – absolutely alive with expression and glee – Henry, camping it up something rotten as a crab, would you believe, and the Moanas – Rosa, Annabelle, Ava and Lyra… I honestly can’t tell you who was my fave. In fact, the lead boys and girls all brought their own personalities to their performances. Other things I remember clearly – Alfie and Theo enjoying wearing sequined dresses more than they, or I, might ever have imagined – and what a role to impress future dinner party guests with – ‘I once played a crab’s claw on stage.’

Motunui isn’t, apparently, a Samoan prop for Leeds Rhinos and Te Ka isn’t a brand of green tea. These things I now know. And Max can channel his ever-present vitality, dazzlingly into his stage persona.

Some of the songs are very catchy and will no doubt become ear-worms, emerging from nowhere when someone says ‘You’re welcome’ or ‘Away’ and I’ll wonder why I’m suddenly singing to myself. As long as I don’t start swaying while moving my arms from side to side.

How Mrs Dance whipped such a large ensemble into shape is impressive, to say the least. Mr Mulryne twiddled knobs to inspire positive adjectives in his lighting, while Mrs Cole tinkled the ivories magnificently. Mr Keens ensured sound levels increased and decreased in the correct sequence and Mrs Watt swirled her wand in the make-up department. These are grown-ups though, so they should be capable enough. Apart from the thespians giving it their all on stage, I can vouch for Dina, Sasha and Serhii who made a super job of the props, as did William, who not only made Maui’s hook, but also got stuck into the sound and lighting aspects too.

Preparations for putting on a show can often be fraught – despite not having had a major role in it all myself – and I don’t always relish the prospect of watching the whole shebang again, but mostly, including the other night, I leave with a smile on my face. The children really did us proud.

Drama and music classes help pupils develop their creativity, communication and performance skills. They also learn to work collaboratively with others, express themselves confidently and appreciate different art forms.