I watched the children. I often do in children’s theatre. They were absolutely and utterly absorbed. I looked back into the audience. So were the parents.
The latest production of Freckleface Strawberry, The Musical is, as usual, marvellous. The National Children’s Theatre and its actors and productions have been nominated for seven Naledi Awards for work done in 2016, including the wonderful production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus for the school setwork om 2016. The excellent standard of work being produced at the National Children’s Theatre is no flash-in-the-pan stuff. It is the result of good, solid hard work from a talented and imaginative creative director, Francois Theron, with an excellent CEO heading up a team of theatre people who make the creativity flow. One understands that everyone loves what they do.
Freckleface Strawberry The Musical is a simple tale about self-image, bullying, recognising other people’s insecurities, making friends and accepting that feeling different and being different are not always the same thing. Our heroine is seven years old, so it is children within two or three years of that who relate best to it. The original story was written by Julianne Moore as an autobiographical one and adapted and directed by Francois Theron. His creative team features set design by Stan Knight, musical supervision by Rowan Bakker, choreography by Shelley Adriaanzen, staging byPhillida Le Roux, costumes by Sarah Roberts and lighting by Jane Gosnell.
It is performed by Teekay Baloyi, Brandon Loelly, Kirsty Marillier (as Freckleface Strawberry), Dihan Schoeman, Caitlyn Thomson, Senzo Radebe, Megan Rigby and Megan van Wyk. From the moment it begins one is caught up in the action. There are no weak links in the casting. Everyone did well and the team worked very effectively at all times.
The autobiographical nature of the tale espouses traditional values of gender roles and marriage and children so if one is raising children to be more inclusive, one might want to discuss that as part of the dealings with the play. It is one woman’s story, not a map for everyone’s life.
Freckleface Strawberry The Musical is running at the National Children’s Theatre in Parktown, until 13 April 2017. Call 011 484 1584 or visit nationalchildrenstheatre.org.za/