Wednesday, January 20, 2016

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

A Musical Theatre show for children with music, lyrics and script by Peter Best. Directed by Jordan Best. Centrepiece Productions. The Q Theatre. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre.  January 19 – 23. 2016

Reviewed  by Peter Wilkins


 
 


Centrepiece Theatre returns to the stage after too long an absence with its acclaimed production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Writer, Peter Best’s utterly enchanting revisiting of the classic children’s story  is a an absolutely flawless retelling of the tale of Daddy Bear (Jim Adamik), Mummy Bear (Kiki Skountzos), Baby Bear (Tim Sekuless) and Goldilocks (Amy Dunham). I don’t say this lightly. Too often, productions for the very young can be tainted by token participation, exaggerated characterization, touches of inappropriate adult humour or too much sound and fury signifying nothing.

Tim Sekuless as Baby Bear. Amy Dunham as Goldilocks.
Kiki Skountzos as Mummy Bear and Jim Adamik as Daddy Bear
Photo by Kelly McGannon
Centrepiece’s production is pure perfection, pitched at its young, mostly preschool audience and their parents or grandparents with such sensitive understanding of the heart and mind of the child. That there is not a shred of the insincerity that one might find in those productions that claim  to know what a child should experience, rather than what most delights a child and ignites their imagination, is a  credit to this imaginative and sensitive company. 
Jim Adamik as Daddy Bear in Centtrepiece
Productions Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Photo by Kelly McGannon
From the very opening of Centrepiece’s version, the scene is set in a picturesque staging, designed by director, Jordan Best. The three bears and the musical cow (Matthew Webster) on the keyboard, are effectively costumed in Best’s design. We are drawn into a Playschool home with bears in there and chairs as well, with different coloured beds and a story to tell. It’s a stage that’s colourful and flowerpot lined to invite an audience inside to the Goldilock’s tale. Every detail of the setting has been designed with a child’s view of the world in mind and gently lit by Kelly McGannon.

In fact, everything about this show is gentle, coaxing the children to enter the magical story-world of a tale as familiar to them as their daily breakfast. And yet Peter Best’s cleverly constructed action is full of surprises, with ample opportunity for the bears to meet the audience and the audience to realize that Daddy Bear is not really scary at all, but quite a softy below his gruffly growl. Under Jordan Best’s sensitive and joyful direction, the actors create a lovable world of action, comedy and adventure, designed simply to delight. It would be too easy to create a Grimm’s fairy tale version of this tale with fearsome bears, frightened Goldilocks and furious reprisals by bears, indignant at an invader who has eaten their porridge, broken their chair and crumpled the bed.

This version is no Roald Dahl revenge tale. It is a beautiful story of forgiveness and friendship, of apology and acceptance, and all that we love about bears and girls with golden hair. Best has chosen an ideal cast, who engage honestly and affectionately with their audience, while creating a believable storybook world for all audiences to be charmed by.


Amy Dunham is Goldilocks in the Centrepiece production
Photo by Kelly McGannon
Peter Best’s music and lyrics, gently played by Webster, like the learning of audience names at the start of the show, begins with simply lyrics and rhythms. However, by the time the bears sing their Bear Bottoms Song and Goldilocks sings her Sorry number, Best’s songs take on a Disney touch, less sugary, but very sweet and melodic with a touch of real class and anyone of the final three numbers could be an all-time hit.

Tim Sekuless is Baby Bear
Photo by Kelly McGannon
Jordan Best’s sure-handed direction is evident in every moment of this thoroughly entertaining show. Her participation is handled with carefully controlled intent. The audience knows when to call out Bear! Bear! Bear! to warn the rather funny and slightly silly Bear family of Goldilocks’s approach, and Goldilock!s Goldilocks! Goldilocks! to warn the heroine of the Bears’ return. It’s all done in good fun, with a gentle touch of slapstick and crazy business. I am also impressed by the easy segue from action to realization as the bears discover the evidence of an intruder in their house. Script and direction fuse in complete understanding of the true nature of good Children’s Theatre and this is excellent children’s theatre, professional in every respect, and delightfully acted by the skilful storytellers and their Musical Cow.
With its small cast and simple, transportable set, Centrepiece’s production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears cries out to be toured. I urge any touring production company to take up this show and delight the widest possible audience. In the tradition of the very best of children’s theatre, Goldilocks and the Three Bears in this production will enchant the youngest child to the oldest adult. The Q needs to be congratulated for bringing Centrepiece’s revival to its stage. Be quick. Once the word gets out, there’ll be bearly  a seat to be had.

 

 

 

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