When Noddy and Oliver Twist met Willy Wonka and the von Trapps…
Museum Theatre, Egmore, was flooded with kids of all ages on July 3 as the Boardwalkers came together to entertain them with a compilation of all our all-time favourite characters. Directed by Michael Muthu, ‘Over the Rainbow' brought with it many a smile and a cloud of nostalgia for those of us in the audience who are today only toddlers at heart.
The evening started with Noddy and his story with the little kids being, it almost seemed, no bigger than a thumb! They sure made one wonder whether it was Noddy they were enacting, or Thumbelina! The Noddy act was followed by an equally convincing one of Oliver Twist as the children took the stage with panache and confidence. The third part of the act brought with it Willy Wonka and his much-acclaimed, always-loved chocolate factory. The final quarter of the evening's act was an extract from The Sound of Music. Once again, the children (only amply supported by the rest of the adult cast) did not fail to impress and many in the audience found themselves singing along to “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”, “Doe, a deer” and “So long, farewell”.
The play was truly one which was of the kids, by the kids and for the kids. Democracy at its best on the sets of a Michael Muthu play! The child artistes burst into song as spontaneously as they were delivering dialogue, some of the lines pretty long.
The performances still retained a dash of the innocence of their youth and the audience was treated to acts where the hesitation of childhood was perfectly coupled by the professionalism with which they carried themselves. It ensured that monotony was avoided and the stage supported, and even encouraged, show of individual differences. The audience was thrilled, adult and child alike. While Anu opined that schools should encourage theatre even furthur, Uma felt it helped repel stage fear even before it had the time to settle in.
With only three weeks of intensive training and the team having to work around school timings and summer vacation plans, ‘Over the Rainbow' is a play which brings out the best in everyone involved — the children, of course, for it was their show, but also Anisha Vergis, a music teacher by profession, who played the role of Maria (The Sound of Music) wonderfully, Aarthi, who designed all the costumes and last, but not the least, Michael Muthu himself and the passion with which he works with children.
Ask him what theatre is to him and pat comes the reply, “Theatre is me.” Likewise, ‘Over the Rainbow' was a reflection of him, the artists and every single person in the audience at some point or the other in life.
Yashasvini is a Std XII student of APL Global School.